Hey, #FutureReadyLibs, new #AASLstandards show #makerspace not a fad

Copy of #FutureReadyLibs Take on AASL MakerspaceIf you’ve been in education as long as me (Um…wow…20+ years), you’ve surely seen educational trends come and go and watched the pendulum swing on what are considered educational priorities. So, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some librarians are sitting back and waiting to see if the library makerspace trend is going to go out of style.

For much of my English teaching career (before I became a librarian), reading and writing across the curriculum was all the rage, and my expertise in these areas was appreciated by teachers across the content areas, who were all of the sudden expected to be teachers of reading and writing on top of their own content. Yet, the pendulum has swung in recent years, and now STEM and STEAM are everything. (Those smarties in Art got in on the acronym action early, and now we are left to awkwardly try to slip in an R for reading, to make it STREAM,).

If you aren’t teaching “design thinking” or “novel engineering,” you are behind the times, dear literacy-loving friends. And, while I do believe Humanities will get their due again eventually (at least I hope so– especially given the way modern life seems to resemble more and more those dystopian novels that fly off the shelves in my library), I have to tell you–having taken a deep dive into the new AASL Standards this semester–I truly believe that this new “makerspace mindset” is not just a passing fad.

If you don’t believe me, then just take a look at these competencies from the shared foundation, Explore:

  • V.B.1. Learners construct new knowledge by problem solving through cycles of design, implementation, and reflection.
  • V.B.2. Learners construct new knowledge by persisting through self-directed pursuits by tinkering and making.
  • V.C.3. Learners engage with the learning community by collaboratively identifying innovative solutions to a challenge or problem.
  • V.D.1. Learners develop through experience and reflection by iteratively responding to challenges.

While Explore, with its key commitment to “discover and innovate in a growth mindset developed through experience and reflection,” encompasses more than just making, it is pretty clear that the language in this shared foundation encourages it. According to Chapter 9 of the new standards book, learners benefit from “opportunities to cultivate creative pursuits by making and experimenting with hands-on activities within the library space” (emphasis mine), and they advance “by tackling challenges that build skill through multiple opportunities to engage in problem-solving and critical-thinking processes.”

I’ll admit right now, I have been slow to get on board with incorporating makerspace in my library and not because I think it’s going to go out of style. Because I serve a student population that is behind in reading (75% of our incoming 6th graders read 2-3 grade levels below where they should be), the focus of my middle school library program is always going to be on reading. But, I also realize that if I do not provide opportunities to make and iterate, my high-poverty students may not be exposed to it elsewhere.

This is why an METC STEAM Summer Institute session on makerspace activities tied to state-award nominated picture books I attended last summer was so appealing to me. The idea of tying the makerspace to literacy seemed like the perfect fit. I blogged about that session here, and I set out this school year to figure out how I could take the idea and make it work for my secondary students.

fins

One of elementary librarian, Carolyn Allen’s terrific ideas that inspired me last summer.

My first thought was to book talk a Truman or Gateway book, read a quick excerpt and then have the students complete a related makerspace activity during their regularly scheduled library visits. Yet, incorporating anything but the simplest, quickest makerspace activities turned out to be hard to manage given the limited time I see secondary students, so I had to get a little more creative and reach out to teaching partners who could collaborate.

As it turns out, our middle school science teachers were looking for enrichment activities for their intervention time, and they were more than willing to have me come in and share about an award book. Then, I could leave, and they took care of the related STEM activity. We were able to incorporate maker activities this way, and it also ended up leading to a broader STEM-Literacy partnership.  For instance, I read an excerpt from Red Queen to 6th grade science students at the start of a unit on blood types, which incorporated inquiry as well as a more traditional lab. The collaboration has me so excited, that I am thinking about reaching out to other departments, like art, social studies and math!

red queen

6th graders learn about real blood types and read about red & silver bloods.

Another idea we have in the works, is putting together some Family STEM-Literacy take-home kits, where we’ll send home two copies of the award book, along with an accompanying nonfiction title, discussion guides and maker activities and materials. We’re writing a grant this month in hopes of funding this idea and our continued partnership!

beneath

I really hope we can fund these kits!

For my high schoolers, I decided to focus on Gina Seymour-inspired “makercare” activities, where the projects were tied to community service. I introduced this through my monthly Teen Library Council lunch meetings, and then students could come in during their free time to participate in making  with the added incentive of getting to go on a field trip to deliver the items we made that were meant for outside the school. Here is a link to the Donor’s Choose project I did to fund the supplies for this idea.

bright

An easy “makercare” project you can do in school.

 

So, while there are a lot of Future Ready Librarians who are trendier than me and a lot farther along when it comes to their library makerspaces, I hope you find a little inspiration here. Plus, I hope you will join in on these collaborative documents (MASL Makers 2017-2018 & MASL Makers 2018-2019) where we are sharing our maker ideas for the MASL award-nominated books (even if you are not from Missouri!).

 

 

A #FutureReadyLibs take on #DigCit in the new #AASLStandards

At #METC18 (Midwest Education Technology Conference) I was fortunate to attend several sessions with Dr. Kristen Mattson (@DrKMattson), including a 3-hour preconference session, “Digital Citizenship: Moving Beyond Personal Responsibility.” Dr. Mattson, who started the Future Ready Librarians Facebook group, had a book  published recently by ISTE , Digital Citizenship in Action: Empowering Students to Engage in Online Communities. Her sessions really got me thinking about the way we approach digital citizenship with our students, and I decided to see what the new AASL National School Library Standards had to say about the librarian’s role in teaching digital citizenship.

While the phrase “digital citizenship” does not appear by name in the Standards Frameworks, nor is it indexed in the standards book, digital citizenship is definitely a big part of the new school library standards. As is no surprise, the librarian’s role in teaching students to ethically gather and use information is prominent. The key commitment for shared foundation Engage states that learners will “demonstrate safe, legal, and ethical creating and sharing of knowledge products while engaging in a community of practice and an interconnected world.” However, it’s also not surprising that the competencies enumerated in this shared foundation focus much more on the “safe, legal and ethical” use of knowledge (what we traditionally view as digital citizenship) rather than the latter part of the commitment, where we help learners navigate within “a community of practice and an interconnected world.”

digcit

In her book and her presentations, Dr. Mattson argues that our digital citizenship lessons need to move beyond “personal responsibility so that [we] can create opportunities for students to become participatory citizens, actively engaging in multiple levels of community and developing relationships based on mutual trust and understanding with others in these spaces.” Dr. Mattson further states, “As citizens, we have a responsibility to give back to the community and to work toward social justice and equity. Digital citizenship curricula should strive to show students possibilities over problems, opportunities over risks and community successes over personal gain.”

This expanded view of our responsibility in teaching our students to be good digital citizens is reflected in two of the other shared foundations in the standards: Include and Collaborate. Consider some of the following competencies and what we as librarians can do to guide our students:

  • II.A.3. Learners contribute to a balanced perspective when participating in a learning community by describing their understanding of cultural relevancy and placement within the global learning community.
  • II.C.I. Learners exhibit empathy with and tolerance for diverse ideas by engaging in informed conversation and active debate.
  • III.B.1. Learners participate in personal, social, and intellectual networks by using a variety of communication tools and resources.
  • III.D.2. Learners actively participate with others in learning situations by recognizing learning as a social responsibility.

Dr. Mattson believes that we should take a “participatory citizen” approach where equity and social justice are emphasized as we acknowledge student voice in digital spaces, help students understand their roles in digital communities, give them opportunities to participate respectful discourse, show them how to make meaningful connections through networking, and encourage them to make contributions that matter.

According to the Future Ready Librarians Framework, teaching digital citizenship should be part of the instructional partnerships that we build with other educators, and Dr. Mattson suggests that we help our instructional partners add a layer of digital citizenship to lessons they are already doing. For instance, a free speech discussion in Civics class could include consideration of digital speech, or a history lesson could ask students to consider how the sinking of the Titanic would be different if cell phones always existed.

For more practical ideas about teaching digital citizenship, check out Dr. Mattson’s website, view the #METCTV recording of her session, Beyond the Hashtags: What Can Social Media Do for Social Justice, and definitely consider picking up a copy of her book.

 

 

3 Tools to Differentiate Reading & Research #METC14

We sent Jennifer Frazer, one of our high school English teachers, who also serves on our tech committee, to the METC preconference workshop on integrating technology tools in English Language Arts to Meet Common Core Standards. She came back with lots of great ideas to share with her department colleagues, but we also asked her to do a short screencast of some of the webtools she learned about that would be of interest to all subject areas. So, Jen chose Newsela, Rewordify, and Instagrok. I particularly like how Rewordify makes a text easier to read not by shortening it (which most automated sites do rather in-eloquently), but by substituting easier words or phrases, while still allowing students access to the original word and its pronunciation.

How #METC14 got this teacher to dive into the Twitter stream

I’ve asked the members of my tech committee who attended METC this year to share something they learned in a screencast. Our eighth grade Social Studies teacher, Danny Commes, was inspired by Josh Stumpenhorst’s  Interactive History and PDBytes’s own Patricia Brown’s Classrooms Without Walls to dive into the Twitter stream. Learn how he got started and why Commes thinks you should, too!

Stream Video from #METC14

I wish we could send our whole staff to the METC conference. Here’s the next best thing: The Connected Classroom, Education Plus’s blog,  reminds us this week that you can still  catch 12 of the METC 2014 sessions, including both Keynote speakers, by viewing the “Virtual Conference” videos that were streamed and archived. These sessions feature national and Midwest leaders in educational technology presenting about topics such as flipped classroom, project based learning, STEM, and PLNs.