Coteaching: What Does It Look Like?

Many schools are getting serious about collaboration and coteaching as strategies for implementing the Common Core State Standards. Communication and collaboration across grade levels and content areas are especially critical to students’ success in meeting the CCSS College and Career Readiness Standards, which are identical across grade-levels in the English Language Arts (ELA) standards. Coteaching, however, takes collaboration beyond curriculum articulation.

Coteaching among educators offers many benefits for learners and for educators, too. When implementing new standards, educators who develop a shared vocabulary, procedures, and processes create greater opportunities for student success. Coteaching between a classroom teacher and a school librarian brings together the combined expertise of two professionals who bring different skill sets to the table.

In our graduate program, the majority of our preservice school librarian students, who have all served as classroom teachers, note that they have never practiced coteaching. In our courses, we encourage coplanning and collaborative work. Still, students ask, “What does it look and sound like?”

To that end, Texas Woman’s University doctoral student Ruth Nicole Hall and I provided a demonstration lesson for preservice classroom teachers and selected video snippets of various parts of the process. For both preservice classroom teachers and preservice librarians, we posted videos that showed us, in the roles of classroom teacher and school librarian, coplanning, comodeling, comonitoring, and coteaching this lesson. We hope these snippets will help our students see the benefits in action. Check out the videos on our undergraduate preservice classroom teacher Library Materials for Children course wiki!

New Year’s Resolution: Deep Learning through School Library Programs

In a recent post to the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Forum, Dr. David Loertscher pointed us to a Mindshift blog post by Tina Barseghian. Her piece focused on measuring deeper learning.

In the Mindshift blog post, Dr. James Pellegrino defined deeper learning as a way to learn processes that transfer and make knowledge useful in new situations. Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, professor of education at the Stanford and advocate for education reform, is also cited in Barseghian’s post. Darling-Hammond states that deeper learning involves problem solving in collaboration with others: “Collaboration is a skill not a deficit.”

On the AASL Forum, David asked how school librarians are shifting their practices, particularly in Common Core State Standards learning experiences, “to concentrate on deeper learning rather than the old superficial factual knowledge acquisition that has been commonplace.” He also asked what school library educators are doing to teach this shift in preservice preparation courses. To answer David’s questions, I would like share my New Year’s resolutions.

I will continue to work with the school, public, and academic librarians in Denton, Texas as we inquire about how to best support young people in our community in developing lifelong literacy skills through deep learning. As a first step in the 2012-2013 academic year, the Denton Inquiry 4 Lifelong Learning team is facilitating a year-long book study of Drs. Carol Kuhlthau, Leslie Maniotes, and Ann Caspari’s book Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Your School (Libraries Unlimited, 2012).

In my work as a school librarian educator, I will continue to push the preservice candidates with whom I am privileged to learn toward facilitating inquiry learning and technology integration through classroom-library instructional partnerships that position librarians as leaders in “deeper learning” reform efforts in their schools.

Whenever the opportunity arises, I will write letters to the editors of the newspapers in my communities to inform readers of the potential of professional school librarians to positively impact 21st-century students’ learning and teachers’ teaching.

And I will continue to coproduce this blog with my colleagues Drs. Sue Kimmel, Melissa P. Johnston, and Judy Kaplan to share news and views to further conversations with our preservice librarian candidates and practicing librarians regarding our role in building cultures of collaboration in our schools.

As a practicing school librarian or school librarian educator, how will you resolve to improve the practice of our profession in 2013?

References

Barseghian, Tina. (2012, Sept. 13). How do we define and measure deeper learning? Mindshift Blog. 31 Dec. 2012.

Word Cloud. Wordle.net. http://wordle.net

 

Notes from AASL Fall Forum

 

By reviewing the readings and joining the Ning, I felt pretty prepared to attend the AASL Fall Forum 2012 on Transliteracy, in Greenville, South Carolina.  While I was excited about aspects of participatory culture, I had real concerns about the print centric emphasis of the Common Core Standards, so I was especially interested in learning about how other educators were integrating cross media platforms as vehicles for learning.

The presenters, Henry Jenkins, Kristin Fontichiaro, and Barbara Jansen provided a whirlwind tour of the intersection of informal and formal learning through the possibilities and challenges of school environments.  Throughout the intensive sessions, various models of collaboration were evident.

Henry, Kristin, and Barbara modeled a constant organic collaboration, as they shared, explored, and extended each others’ work and ideas.  Instead of three separate tracks, they were able to integrate and connect ideas through conversations with each other and with the participants to present a holistic view of transmedia and learning.  Henry’s closing remarks were inspiring as he made connections to the democratic power of social media.

Collaboration across time and space took place in several satellite sites.  Folks in Pennsylvania, Texas, and California, were connected through a live video conference feed during the sessions.  Participants at those sites could ask questions that were relayed to the presenters who then responded to all.  The time difference with California, meant that the site tuned in a bit later on Saturday, but they had access to the information presented through social media networking.

During the sessions, each presenter encouraged discussion by asking probing questions, and allowing time for groups at all the sites to explore and reflect on ideas.   Using Google docs, Today’s Meet, and the Ning, participants collaborated and shared conversations electronically.  Those links are available are available through the Ning that is open to all who are interested.

My brain was on overload for two days, as the presenters and participants demonstrated multiple paths for thinking about teaching and learning.  It was great to network with folks from other states who shared their successes and frustrations that sounded a lot like my own experiences.  One woman who was in an elementary school in Georgia had 750 students in her school. Fortunately, she had flex time and a clerk.   Another participant from Maine supervised paraprofessionals in several schools in a district.  Some who worked in private schools were unencumbered with constraints in public schools- lots to think and talk about. The Common Core was a major buzz everywhere.

One of the participants, Linda Dougherty, created a Pinterest Board of links that were tweeted during the conference.  Things went so fast, I could not keep up, so it might give you a flavor of what was covered. Have a look! Jennifer Tazerouti also shared lots of links in her Auntie Librarian Blog.

My takeaways:

Henry Jenkins, and the research and work that he does at USC and the Innovative Lab, informed us of the endless possibilities of connecting youth with media in informal learning.  He showed many examples of the PLAY projects that connect popular culture to learning. Given the opportunities to analyze traditional literature such as Moby Dick through a meaningful cultural lens, incarcerated youth revealed understandings and interpretations about the overarching themes in Melville’s work.  They were able to relate and produce performances that were powerful and insightful, but reflected in their own gang culture.  I have a greater appreciation about how twitter, youtube, and other social media can drive ideas and movements very quickly through the world. Jenkins feels that libraries are important incubators for advancing the democratization of learning.  He cited the public library in Chicago for its programs for youth after school.  Another project that is in the works will be of interest to school librarians.  He is working with author/illustrator David Wiesner to create a transmedia production for Flotsam (2006), with interactive components, links to oceanographic studies, and other creative options for sharing the book through multiple lenses.  I was thinking that would be great to connect it with an information text such as Loree Burn’s, Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion. (2007)

Kristin Fonticihiaro, who has unlimited energy and in depth understanding of the pedagogy of learning, gave us some background on the emergence of the term transliteracy.  She asked us to think about how this concept is different from what we have been doing all along.   The digital networked environment has changed that way that people read and interact with information, and we need to think about effective ways to integrate this understanding into how and what we teach in the context of  the text oriented environment of the Common Core Standards.  Kristin presented the contrast between informal learning as described by Henry Jenkins, and what happens in schools, where there are barriers to access to the internet, as well as, curriculum guidelines and high stakes tests.

She also focused on assessment, instructional design, and expectations for effective student work in learning with technology.   She shared examples of students’ work to look for evidence of learning.  Take a look at the videos and see if you can tell what the students have really learned (synthesized), and also what value the format of the report adds to the learning.

Barbara Jansen, School Librarian and author from Austin, Texas, filled in at the last minute for another speaker who could not make it.  She was a treasure trove of ideas and examples for designing lessons and units that incorporated authentic challenges for students.  Here is a link to the wiki that she set up for her speech, and also her virtual library.  Look at the integrated assignments page, and the menu for pages that define and clarify research strategies-a model for all to take away.

Thank you to all involved in putting together a rewarding and informational experience. Barbara Jansen, coincidentally was the chairperson of the committee that organized this event, and special hats off to her for her excellent and seamless contributions to the conference at a moment’s notice.

As a participant, I came away with the feeling that there is still so much to learn about bridging the participatory gap for all our students.  The folks at this conference seem have a handle on it, but as school librarians in practice, the only way we will make a difference is to be part of the conversation in our own district and school communities-think leading from the middle through collaboration.  We have to have to share ideas that we learn from others who are traveling the same path, so let’s get going!

Nuff said!

Some resources mentioned above:

Burns, Loree. (2007).  Tracking trash: flotsam, jetsam and the science of ocean motion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Jenkins, Henry et al. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: media education for the 21st Century. Chicago: MacArthur Foundation (white paper).

Wiesner, David. (2006). Flotsam. Boston: Clarion Books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Core Collaboration

A couple of weeks ago one of the featured articles in Education Week highlighted how the Common Core Standards are providing opportunities for school librarians to partner with teachers. This is something I have been continually preaching to my students for the past two years. I truly believe the Common Core Standards (CCS) provide an opportunity for school librarians to demonstrate that they are teachers and a valuable part of the educational process, and hopefully step up as instructional leaders in their schools. The inquiry-based learning that is central in the Common Core Standards is also at the foundation of the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner (AASL, 2007). The research process is integrated throughout the CSS and we as school librarians know a little something about this process! But are you making sure that the teachers in your school know this?

Yesterday as I opened my new issue of Knowledge Quest I was pleasantly surprised to see the editorial by the ever-current Buffy Hamilton (2012) discuss “how a participatory culture and learning [can] bolster implementation of the Common Core Standards” and the importance of reading and writing. The whole issue looks at innovative ways the school librarians can design learning experiences that not only engage students, but also address the CCS. What innovative ideas have you come up with to work with teachers to design innovative and meaningful learning experiences?

AASL has even created the Common Core Crosswalk, which presents a very useful quick reference tool on how the CCS and the AASL Standards mesh and the lessons in the AASL Lesson Plan Database also are aligned to the Common Core. Are you utilizing these resources to create standards based instruction?

The Education Week article goes a step further and says that the Common Core Standards are thrusting school librarians into an instructional leadership role. I disagree – I say they are providing us the opportunity and it is now up to each of us to step up into a leadership role. So the opportunity is there – what are you doing to take advantage of it? Are you stepping up?

References

American Association of School Librarians (AASL). (2007). Standards for the 21st-century learner. Chicago: American Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/ aasl/aaslproftools/learningstandards/standards.cfm

Hamilton, B. (2012). Participatory culture in the school library. Knowledge Quest, 41(1), 6-7.