Posted by: Kris Woods | January 28, 2009

Are they learning what I am teaching?

Buffy Hamilton, media specialist at Creekview High School, has begun a meme of what she plans to teach not only to her students, but faculty and administration as well.  She includes the following:

  1. Literacy
  2. Digital Citizenship
  3. Collaboration
  4. Personal Learning Networks
  5. Authority
  6. Library as Information Commons

Buffy gives a comprehensive list with valid, effective points for any media program. Considering the new AASL Standards for 21st Century Learning include elements of skills, dispositions, responsibilities, and self-assessment strategies, I think I will concentrate on how I plan to work with students to meet and exceed these elements and standards.

  1. Think critically: Our schools have become assessment-driven to the point that thinking skills are not developed to the level needed for a student to become a contributing member of society who is going to make a difference.  Projects based on fact collection with no discernable component of asking why may increase the knowledge (but what is knowledge? Can what they “learn” really just be found in a couple clicks?) but does nothing with the ability to apply that knowledge in a new situation.  Collaborate to make every inquiry project connected to an authentic audience with a product created for purpose of use.
  2. Connectivity:  Are we connecting our students with the outside world?  The Horizon Report 2009 states, “increasing globalization continues to affect the way we work, collaborate, and communicate” (p.5).  Authentic audiences are a result of connecting with the outside audience.  How are we connecting with others?  Classroom blogging (real blogging) and wikis with comments and collaboration from the wider world; interaction with experts, authors; a social consciousness of students are goals I have for my students.  Service components are an integral facet of a well-rounded person.  Can students use social networking in the schools to create a school community dedicated to service as well as knowledge?
  3. Personal LearningSelf-monitoring of progress for students through use of data to inform students of where they are, where they need to be and how to  formulate a plan to get there.  In reading aesthetics, I can help by counseling students on their progress.  Are they pushing themselves to investigate new interests or are they jumping the hoops to say they completed the reading assignment?  What is their personal criterion for evaluating progress?  It is not the number of pages or the amount of books.  It is the internal desire to seek information, be determined to find it, use it to the fullest potential, and understand how to improve the process.  The goal is not the completion of the work.  The goal is the learning along the journey.
Posted by: Kris Woods | November 5, 2008

Curriculum mapping and the media program

Today the media specialists in the district had one of four district meetings available to us each year.  The meetings are an opportunity to network with other media specialists to share ideas, re-energize, and develop skills in administering effective media programs.

One goal of today’s meeting was to provide time for grade level groups to work on aligning content area standards with the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner.  The groups were able to begin discussing the benchmarks of AASL skills for grades 2, 5, 8, 10, and 12 found in the draft of the Standards in Action document and work on compiling a grade level content map.  Below is the presentation with information about the mapping project:

The information literacy map is a photo album approach to the operational curriculum for the media program addressing student performance standards.  The maps will show paced instruction over time with a prioritized curriculum.  Information literacy skills are integrated into the content areas.  Content and skills are aligned with assessments and based upon data-driven decisions.  The skills students learn through the media program diffuse throughout the entire school curriculum.  Information literacy embedded in the content areas provides a curriculum continuum of learning by continually reinforcing skills for student mastery.

The mapping project has potential to open the lines of communication with faculty and form collaborative instructional partnerships.  Once the grade level maps are completed, we will be able to look at the entire K-12 media program curriculum to align the skills and standards vertically.  The responsibilities and dispositions are broken down into stages of development, which we can use to assess the progress of the students through the vertical plan.  This is an exciting opportunity to see not only the collaboration among the media specialists but a tool to help raise student achievement by utilizing the resources, support, and services of the media program to engage learners in 21st century skills to succeed as lifelong learners.

Posted by: Kris Woods | October 9, 2008

Application & Technology

A reading teacher and I are trying something new.  Using a jigsaw approach to learning, we are working through the informational text unit for reading by having the students create a digital movie.  Using the concepts of text, graphics, strategies, evaluation, author’s purpose, and audience students are trying to find examples of application of these concepts using GALILEO.  The next step is to take a screen shot of the article, add arrows (in PowerPoint) to point out the feature or strategy used to understand the text.  Students are creating scripts to go along with the screen shots explaining the application of the feature.  This project emcompasses numerous technology literacy, information literacy, and media literacy skills.

We are just beginning the stage of building the PhotoStories for each concept.  Once the PhotoStories are complete, we will then collate the individual set of skills together into one video, which will become a teaching tool for the rest of the class to learn about the other sets of information involved in informational text.

The project has been a challenge because the students need to move up the taxonomy to apply their knowledge about informational text and not just define the concepts.  This project is forcing them to truly examine an encyclopedia article or a letter to the editor and metacognitively consider the process they use to understand the information then COMMUNICATE that knowledge to someone else.

Posted by: Kris Woods | August 20, 2008

Video Tutorials

I spend most of the first quarter teaching daily between the orientation and online resources classes for all the 7th grade social studies (Grolier) and 7th grade language arts (GALILEO and Website evaluation) so that the students will be prepared to research efficiently and effectively.  This schedule limits my availablity for the quarter.
This year, I decided to use Camtasia to create a video tutorial for the 8th grade social studies classes.  Moving into Georgia Studies, these students will now need to utilize New Georgia Encyclopedia, Georgia Info (UGA), and the Digital Library of Georgia.  I planned with the five teachers to create the video and have them show it to their classes with a follow-up on the resource use throughout the year.  This enabled me to reach more students, using the alternate delivery method.  I uploaded the video to TeacherTube for anytime access with a link on my website.  Students can view the video as a refresher or new students can view the video.
Due to a short notice School Improvement meeting, I was faced with rescheduling an 8th grade teacher for a Big6 research process lesson.  After the success of the Georgia Studies video, I decided to again utilize this delivery method to keep this teacher on track (I did not have another day available for her for over a week.)  I created a SmartNotebook for the lesson and created the video using the notebook.
Video tutorials have proven to be an effective instructional strategy for introductory material for our experienced students.  I felt comfortable using this method with my 8th graders because I know their research skill level from the past year’s work with them.  I remain hesitant to use the video method with the 7th graders.  I do not know their prior knowledge level and feel the video tutorials may not be an effective method for them at this point.
Posted by: Kris Woods | March 21, 2008

Reflections on the wiki project

Reflection on the inaugural Teasleypedia project

          The language arts teacher and I were eager to try the wiki research project with our students.  The students’ excitement was palpable when we introduced the concept of the wiki and creation of online encyclopedic entries.  The essence of Web 2.0 is collaboration and building knowledge together as an online community.  The goal of this instructional sequence was to review research skills while integrating technology to engage learners.  Connected learning via the Internet necessitates an openness to change.  The collaborative relationship I have with the language arts teacher allowed us to journey into uncharted territory.  The wiki concept is new to us and to the students.  As we collaborated on the unit, we adjusted for problems that arose and made note of changes for the next time we facilitate this unit.I feel the students were more engaged in the research for the wiki project than I have seen in traditional research projects.  The students understood that their work could be viewed by anyone on the Internet.  At first the students did not conceptualize the final product.  Once we realized that we were having an issue with the conceptualization, we relied on the students’ knowledge of Wikipedia to give them a visual image of what we were expecting as a final product.  The next time we use the wiki unit, we will include a better mini-lesson in the pedagogy and creation of a wiki entry.  Students needed to see multiple examples to transfer informational writing skills into production of the wiki entry.

One goal we had was for the students to integrate primary documents and videos into the entries and to use the documents to directly support information in the entry.  The inclusion of primary documents in the project gives the students a wider experience with accessing, locating, and using digital resources.  Visual learners benefit from the use of primary documents.  The pictures help to tell the story.

The language arts teacher and I wanted the students to collaborate through peer editing of their work.  The editing of other entries not only improved the entries but also allowed for discussion among the students.  The students became engaged in editing their peers’ pages.  The language arts teacher commented that he had not seen the students so animated and involved in peer editing.

Online collaborative work is the future of information literacy and research.  I will continue to revise and refine the concept of a school encyclopedia wiki.  The students’ attitudes toward research and writing changed as a result of the online writing environment.  They were excited to create the entries.  The basic format of the unit is transferable to any content area.  I plan to incorporate the wiki into other projects to add entries.  I included an alphabetical index in the wiki.  As other classes participate in creation of entries, our school online encyclopedia will grow with the prior entries serving as needed examples I described.  The entries are available for further editing.  As the wiki grows, grammar assignments could include editing wiki entries.  When a student edits an entry, the changes are kept in the wiki history.  A teacher can check the history to see what changes a student made.  Peer editing of entries will lead to internalization of writing conventions as the students will have an authentic purpose to the editing.  Building a collaborative school encyclopedia will influence future instruction in a profound way.

Posted by: Kris Woods | February 14, 2008

Reflection: What is it we want a 21st learner to learn?

I am aligning and mapping the seventh grade curriculum to the new AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner. Using the Understanding by Design model, I am first examining the standards, determining enduring understandings, and formulating essential questions to develop an integrated curriculum map of information literacy skills and the content curriculum.  I have decided to use the nine common beliefs of the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner as my enduring understandings.  I believe these nine beliefs encompass the goals of the four standards and the numerous elements relating to skills, dispositions in action, responsibilities, and self-assessment strategies under each standard.AASL beliefs

Enduring Understandings [Common Beliefs (AASL)]

Reading is a window to the world.
Inquiry provides a framework for learning.
Ethical behavior in the use of information must be taught.
Technology skills are crucial for future employment needs. 
Equitable access is a key component for education.
The definition of information literacy has become more complex as resources and technologies have changed.
The continuing expansion of information demands that all individuals acquire the thinking skills that will enable them to learn on their own.
Learning has a social context.
School libraries are essential to the development of learning skills.

I am currently working with this version of essential questions for my media program and information literacy instruction for the seventh grade:

Essential Questions

What information do I need?
Where can I find the information I need?
What do I need to do with the information I find?
How is the information I found useful to me?
How do I critically evaluate information?
How do I research efficiently and effectively?
How do I evaluate the end result of my information search?
How do I give credit to my sources?
How will I record the information that I find?
How do I chose books for my own interests and growth?
How do I use technology to communicate my new knowledge?

Of course, this design necessitates the collaboration with teachers with their own essential questions for students to answer for just-in-time learning of the skills, dispositions, responsibilities, and self-assessment of the 21st century learner. This mapping project is consuming my thoughts lately and the implications it may have in my school and the resulting impact to student achievement.  My district is currently involved in a 21st century learner professional development program called TeAch 21 with media specialists participating in MediA 21 (the “A” referring to Academics).  I believe technology should be integrated throughout the curriculum and not taught or used in isolation.  Information literacy goes hand-in-hand with using technology efficiently and effectively in the 21st century.

While reading Dangerously Irrelevant, I came across a series of posts. (Birth of a question and paradigm shift and Curriculum 2.0 – Building buy-in and shared understanding) by Justin Medved and Dennis Harter.  They ask questions about curriculum design and technology:

What if this same “best practice” [UbD] approach could be applied to the way technology was used and talked about in the classroom?  If this was good curricular design practice, why should technology and thinking curriculum be any different?  What if that same approach was used in the way we looked at connecting technology and learning across the curriculum? What if there were only a few manageable questions that even the most tech-resistant teacher could see value in?

They go on to formulate five essential questions for a curriculum focused on “the thinking that was needed for the 21st century learner, rather than the technology.”

How do you know information is true?
How do you communicate effectively?       
What does it mean to be a global citizen?       
How do I learn best?       
How can we be safe?

I think Medved and Harter are really media specialists at heart.  Their formula of essential questions is the essence of what an effective media program should be.  Technology and Information Literacy go hand-in-hand in the 21st century.

In the words of Medved and Harter, “who is going to teach these skills?…Everyone is.”

 Cross-posted at GLMA
American Association of School Librarians. (2007). ALA/AASL standards for the 21st century learner. Retrieved February 13, 2008, from
Posted by: Kris Woods | February 10, 2008

Web evaluation: Reflections on MediA21 @ TMS

Each nine weeks I collaborate with our Computer Applications teacher on a website evaluation unit with our seventh graders.  I have a PowerPoint that I made into a webpage.  The students follow along on the laptops while we work on answering the essential question: How do I critically evaluate a website?

This week we tried something new and I am happy with the result.  I had been using The Dog Island website as the model for working through the Five W’s of Website Evaluation.  This is a great hoax site to show the value of critically evaluating a website and being a cautious consumer of information.  However, I wanted to emphasize the questioning aspect of the lesson more so than is possible with Dog Island.

This time, we used the DHMO website.  A colleague pointed me toward a DHMO video on TeacherTube that is a teen talking about the website and how upset she is with the state of contamination by this chemical, DHMO.  The video is a great hook for the students as I explained that I wanted us to examine this website to see if we should join this girl in her crusade against DHMO contamination.  After we worked through the Five W’s of the website ( Who, What, Where, When,  Why) we determined that the chemical must be a hazard.  I then had the students discover and realize what compound DHMO is by working through the chemical formula.

They were blown away by the result.  I think the lesson shook them up a bit about Internet research.  The point I made was that all the information on the website is accurate, but the premise behind the information is completely misleading.  A great teachable moment for information literacy.

Posted by: Kris Woods | February 1, 2008

Wiki: Reflections on MediA21 @ TMS

I began wokring on the Teasleypedia wiki for our Civil War project coming up.  I have decided to take some of the elements of the jigsaw pathfinder project I developed for TeAch 21 and apply the strategies to the wiki project.

I created a Big6 page for the pre-research strategizing that the students will do before they begin work.  They will copy the template and then create their own entry page.  We have decided that the students will complete the organizer as a part of their page, including annotations of the websites they choose to use.

I read an article quite a while ago about the changing literacy that students will need to read online.  Online reading requires different techniques than print reading.  One strategy is to have students annotate any links they use to ensure that they have made an analysis of the material and that the source will be an effective source for their information needs.

My next step is to collaborate with the teacher further to create an outline we want the students to follow for their entries.  I suspect there will be an inquiry written section and the sources.  I would like to have the students incorporate primary documents and reflection in their entry outlines as well.  I want to incorporate too.  Perhaps we can also do podcasts.  The students could “interview” soldiers, nurses, abolitionists, etc.  We could expand the project to Social Studies even more by working in that class on interview scripts while the class works in Language arts on the wiki entry. Hmmm, that’s some food for thought.

Posted by: Kris Woods | January 19, 2008

Online searching: Reflections on MediA 21 @ TMS

This week there has been a discussion on the GeorgiaMedia listserv about how to present the debate between using databases and search engines in “teen-speak.”  This is a perennial problem.  Students seem to naturally gravitate to the search engines or world-wide connected wiki for their research information.  This is after instruction in use of the databases.  Brian Collier devised an apt analogy:

  • Google is like flipping the stations on your car radio and hoping a good song is playing.
  • A database is like cueing up the song you want on your iPod.

At the county media meeting this week, Rebecca Amerson (WHS) and Patricia Gilman (EHS) presented on information search strategies, specifically using search engines.  They emphasized three search strategies:

  1. Narrowing a search focus by use site:domain (e.g. site:edu)
  2. Use phrase searching (e.g. “Great Depression”)
  3. Use + – in search

These strategies can be practiced while playing the “The Google Game” (I found this link using the strategies: site:slj google game – it was the first hit).

I created a flyer for teachers to post in their rooms concerning this debate along with some advice to include database searching in inquiry-based projects.  This has sparked some conversations, which is the hoped for outcome.

Posted by: Kris Woods | January 12, 2008

Wikis and Blogs: Reflections on MediA 21 @ TMS

Today two teachers and I discussed some upcoming projects.  In one class, we are collaborating on a research project using a wiki.  The basis of the collaboration is for the students to work together on entries in a “Teasleypedia” wiki to write to a wider audience.  I recently discovered the video, “42” by Barry Bachenheimer.  The premise of the video is that during thirteen years of education, students write for 42 people: their teachers.  Students will participate in an inquiry-based exploration of the the Civil War creating entries on topics from the war.  We are beginning to design the unit; however, the gist of the project is the students will use a research template on a wiki to record their sources, notes, research process, and writing. We will create an encyclopedia with the entries.  Once students write the draft for their entry on the wiki, we will then open the wiki for collaborative, peer editing.  Students will work in groups to edit each other’s entries online working on specific, grammatical constructions for each student.  Students will be responsible for leaving feedback to each other in the discussion section of the wiki ( I made this change because…).  After the peer collaboration, each student will then compare their original version of the entry with the collaboratively edited entry and reflect on the differences and what the student learned from the experience.  Since the wiki is online, the students will not be writing solely for their teacher.  They will be writing for each other and for anyone else who discovers the wiki.  I cannot wait to get started on this piece!

The other teacher and I are collaborating on two blogs for novel studies.  One blog is for Basher-52.  The other is for Crossing the Wire. I have only just begun building the blogs and we still need to take some time to plan.  I have begun incorporporating RSS feeds from my account to create a pathfinder within the blogs for resources the students will use during the novel study.

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