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21st Century Learning @ Your School Library – by Nancy White

Lately, I’ve been involved in multiple levels of discussions centered around 21st century learning. In March, I was invited to travel with administrators from my school district to visit Loudon County School District in Virginia, a “21st Century School District” featured on a tour sponsored by NSBA.   In April, as a representative of CASL, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting of key players in the K-12 and academic educational arena, as well as business and government representatives in a meeting arranged by The Partnership for 21st Century Skills.  The purpose of the meeting was to encourage Colorado to become a full state partner, just as North Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin are.  In June, I attended the Technology in Education Conference where the hot topics were 21st Century Learning and Web 2.0 technologies. Also in June, I attended the 21st Century Learning Navigator Conference, sponsored by the Council on 21st Century Learning, again with key representatives from government and education present, including a good sprinkling of library media specialists, and a group of high school students.   The amount of information and ideas swimming around in my brain is reaching critical mass at this point, but there are a couple of key ideas and realizations I would like to share: ·        If people want to see what we mean by “21st century learning” – they need only step into a vibrant school library media center to see it in action. Why? Students are engaged in project-based learning, using technology, accessing, evaluating, using information to produce a quality product.  Chances are, the teacher-librarian has collaborated with one or more classroom teachers to plan this learning experience, and there is some connection “outside of the school walls” either through information gathering or authentic assessment. ·        If this doesn’t sound like your library, it is time to make some changes! Administrators are starting to “get” that traditional classroom teaching, i.e. “sage on the stage” and textbook-based learning will not adequately prepare students for the future.  Teacher-librarians need to be there with a quick and ready answer when their administrator starts asking “how can I begin to implement some of the elements of 21st century learning in my school?”  The answer should be – “This is what I do – lets work together to get more teachers involved.”


2 Responses

  1. Nancy, you are so right on with your comments. Every school librarian should be an active instructor of 21st Century Skills integration. We have been on the leading edge and must continue to be there. An administrator’s first thoughts about best practices classroom instruction should be to contact the teacher librarian and brainstorm ways to align the skills and current teaching.

  2. I believe that St. Vrain has strategically positioned itself this year to further market the essential opportunities with our media centers. We have merged three groups in our district: Media, Instructional Technology and Science to Go (K5 curriculum kits), into one combining our service offerings to our schools. Principals, media staff and instructional technology staff are working together on providing just in time learning for our students.

    Much like the Colorado Springs model of Library Technology Educators, we are working hand in hand to offer support solutions to classroom teachers and students. And it is working!!

    If the new Skills Act passes, we will be better prepared to implement it’s requirements as we are already moving in that direction. Just as it took Colorado Springs five years to implement their model, we are moving at a guided, evaluative pace.

    The key is to plan, take a proactive approach and realign along the way as appropriate. It is an exciting time in which we live and the opportunities are many. I just watched the 2020 Graduation Vision video on Karl Fisch’s the Fischbowl – it is the first futuristic portrayal of technology I have seen in a long time. Reminds me of the furistic visions from the 60’s and 70’s decades. Where will you be and what will you be doing in 2020?

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