Saturday, March 8, 2014

AASL eAcademy Invite

My school recently hosted Bill and Ochan Powell for a professional development day.  
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In preparation of this event, multiple copies of their book, Making the Difference: Differentiation in International Schools, were purchased for staff to read. 
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I highly recommend their work, whether you are at an international school or not.  Many of their strategies are applicable for ELL students anywhere. And every classroom is populated with students whose needs vary. 

But I am especially pleased with the chapter on the role of the library.  It was written by a librarian and clearly outlines the role of the modern library.  And I have to admit, I am rather proud of the fact that one of our teachers, after completing that particular chapter, came up to the library to share what he had read and tell us that it described what was happening in our library.  (Yes!)

In Making the Difference, reference is made to some of the teaching books that I have checked out to teachers in recent years... including some I have carried home with the intention of reading in my "spare time".  One section that really jumped out to me referred to the text Understanding by Design by Wiggins and McTighe.  

Way back when, I was taught to write lesson plans using backwards design, and I still begin with the end in mind.  But I was struggling to update my thinking to using Enduring Understandings to guide my lessons.  I watched classroom teachers do this, for example, guiding students to understand WHY people explore rather than just memorize the dates and locations that are associated with James Cook or Lewis & Clark.  But I just couldn't seem to make a satisfactory connection with that process and information skills students learn in the library.

I know part of the problem is time.  Finding Making time to write out complete lesson plans and then reflect later can be difficult if you are unable to find a quiet place to work.  My door is always open and interruptions are frequent, so this task often gets pushed to "later" on my to-do list.  

But I really wanted to document the curriculum framework I use, not just carry it around in my head.  I hadn't been able to get it onto paper until I finally understood how Enduring Understanding applied to the library.

One key to Enduring Understandings is that one should be able to answer the question "How will this matter to the learner in 20 years?"  Rather than making students memorize Dewey Decimal numbers, we can help them learn that "Information can be organized in different ways".  This allows for their contributions to the concept as well provides a basis for understanding how the parts of books are organized, how alphabetical order can help us organize books on the shelves, the Dewey Decimal system, etc.  I was so excited to see how I could take what I had been teaching and create a usable structure for it.  

In doing a little searching, I found an article on Enduring Understandings for the Library by Jean Donham. Donham wrote 9 Essential Questions based on AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner Beliefs. I used her suggestions to draft my big picture, and then I began to craft Guiding Questions that would drive the learning at each grade level.  

So there I was, brainstorming and writing.

And that's when the invitation from AASL arrived in my inbox.  

The AASL eAcademy is offering a course, Design for Understanding Meets the 21st Century School Librarian, starting March 21.  

I have registered, and I am super-excited to proceed with a network of librarians.   And looking over the syllabus, I see that I will finally read some of those books I have on my nightstand. 

Anyone out there want to join me in the course?

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