Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wisdom of Kathy Schrock about Collaboration

For several years I have been, as my dad would say, "treatnin' to" write a book about the need for collaboration between school librarians and school technology specialists. Ever since hearing Marla McGee and Barb Jansen present about their book, The Principal's Guide to a Powerful Library Media Program, I have thought there should be something of that kind to advise librarians and tech teachers. The problem was...I had no answers as to how to make things better when there is not a good working relationship between the two entities. Finally I decided to propose the book anyway and find answers as I went along. I enlisted to wonderful colleagues, Dr. Holly Weimar and James VanRoekel, and we are hoping to conclude this project before too very long. I sought advice from the experts, mostly from those in the trenches. Today I also gathered up my courage and contacted some of my heroes. Within two hours I had a wonderful and very practical response from KATHY SCHROCK! Here is what she had to say:

“I would strongly encourage them to create a three-sided teaching model that includes the librarian, technology specialist, and content specialist in the development of the curriculum. "Library" and "computers" are not subjects, in my opinion. They are both very important components of curriculum that both allow students to showcase knowledge as well as become proficient in all of the 21st century skillsets.” She went on to say, “I would suggest a sit-down together, each listing the types of things they do with students, and first see the overlap. I am guessing that the librarian list, among other things, will include some type of information literacy model that is used to make sure students develop good questions, pick the appropriate resources, effective searching skills and critical evaluation of the information they find, with the addition of correctly citing the information. In addition, the librarians will talk about copyright, fair use, and Creative Commons and the respect for the intellectual property of others.

The technology specialists will talk about having students pick the correct tool for the job, whether on the computer or tablet, or Web-based. They might include tools that help students gather information and collaborate in real-time as well as the creation of project-based things that culminate in a movie or presentation. This group will also include the overview of publishing material with respect to font and color and how best to communicate using technology. They will include the fact they cover cyber-safety and identify protection and proper Internet etiquette.

The third part of the triangle that should be invited to the table is the content specialist (the classroom teacher). The classroom teacher should be one to drive the content of both of the other two, and work with them to development appropriate formative and summative assessments that both showcase mastery of the content as well as use of the technology and information literacy skillsets.”

Such a meeting of minds could not help but be beneficial to all concerned. Kathy is absolutely right that the third side of the triangular model, the classroom teacher, must never be overlooked. The librarian and technology specialist share the responsibility of supporting classroom teachers in all their efforts and needs from immediate quick answers to staff developments to collaborative projects. And it should be added that the real raison d’etre for the entire set of efforts is the students. I wish I had this back when I was in a school library and working with our technology specialist. Having a formal model and keeping the principal in the loop would have been very beneficial.

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