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Advice to rising stars

 I like you. You remind me of myself when I was young and stupid. (from my t-shirt list)

brightstar.jpegThe blogosphere is a wonderful place to get to know the rising stars in the fields of school librarianship and technology. It's great fun to read the excitement in the posts of younger professionals who are being invited to speak at conferences, to write for professional publications, and to be recognized as experts in their respective fields.

Knowing that some you read the Blue Skunk, I'd direct your attention to the recent post, How to be “famous” (wink wink, nudge nudge) by library "superstar" Karen Schneider over at the Free Range Librarian blog. I am having these words of wisdom from her post embroidered on a small pillow for my bed: "Don’t assume that because you’re well-known, your poop don’t smell." (Of course I am lucky to have the LWW around to remind of this now and then as well.)

Karen's advice is both practical and humorous. You'll enjoy it, rising stars! 


The rest of the AASL standards


(For a larger jpg of this diagram click here for top half, and here for bottom half. Click here for Inspiration file of complete diagram.)

As I indicated in yesterday's post, I compared the ISTE Standards only to the Skills section of the AASL Standards. To be fair, I thought I should diagram the other three parts of the AASL Standards: Dispositions in Action; Responsibilities; and Self-Assessment Strategies.

These sections are both the most visionary and the most problematic of the new standards.  A quick glance at the diagram above shows that these three sections deal with HOTs, ethics, and especially attitudes toward learning. The visionary part is that if we listen to Daniel Pink and Tom Friedman and Richard Florida and the enGauge people, these are just the sorts of attributes globally competitive workers need. The question is: Are these attributes actually teachable and assessable?

I guess we will find out. Sara Kelly Johns, AASL President, assures us there will be more material to support these standards:

... the Learning Assessment and Indicators piece, the Implementation project (that task force is chaired by Susan Ballard) and, coordinated with the standards, Program Guidelines (that task force is chaired by Bonnie Grimble).  Some people have asked why the standards came out on their own without the other pieces but in my mind, it does give the profession an opportunity to study and reflect and develop ideas for teaching and curriculum. Your comments will be  carefully considered as were the comments from the field as the standards were developed.

Here are just a few interesting snippets, pulled from LM_Net postings, that indicate the range of reactions to the AASL standards after Sharon actually got us reading the damn things. (A few of these messages can be read in full as responses to Sharon Grimes original LM_Net posting on the AASL Blog.)

I didn't really know why I was uncomfortable [with these standards], since I do hold dear the principled but vague picture of idealized learning described and illustrated in the new report. Now I realize that there is a disturbing disconnect between the role I have in my building to support student achievement, which is valued, and the role described in the report ... Susan P

Documents like this should never be placed in mailboxes or dropped off on desks, they need to be shared in a carefully constructed social context that includes your professional and expert thoughts on how this broad national document will be applied in the local environment.  ... Don't give standards to your principals, give them solutions. Chris H

I expected to LOVE them, because of their emphasis on twenty-first century learning.  Instead - they feel very "slippery" to me.  I have assumed the problem was because I have not yet studied them as thoroughly as I should - but perhaps there really IS little to grab onto. Jacquie H

AASL, ALA, and other organizations can publish all the standards they want. The only ones that count, though, are those published by our own Boards of Education, our own States, and the Federal government, since they are the only ones with the force of law. ... Use what actually works best for you. David L

I'm very excited about the new standards and looking forward to sharing them with faculty and administration over the next semester. For me, the standards seem visionary, not vague. ... Listening to education/tech gurus like David Warlick or Ian Jukes and witnessing what happens every day with my students has convinced me that education needs to/will change, and I think the new standards are the start (just the start) of a new road map for school libraries. Anita B

Like Sharon Grimes, I believe that teaching reading comprehension strategies is a large part of what we do in school libraries - at all levels. To that end, I created a matrix that aligns the new AASL standards with seven reading comprehension strategies. Judi M

With all due respect -- visionary is wonderful -- however - reality is – they have to be concrete -- for the majority of end users and there has to be a reason to use them -- and normally that means tied to testing and/or funding or you won't get most supt., administrators, principals or teachers to use them. Paula Y

I have thought about this and feel VERY strongly that we do ourselves a disservice by emphasizing our role too broadly in terms of inquiry based, problem-based, critical thinking, lifelong learning, etc.  Yes - teacher-librarians and library media programs contribute to the effectiveness of these, but our CORE, unique curriculum contribution is information literacy - defined as information problem-solving and involving the learning of information skills and understandings.  It's the INFORMATION side that is uniquely ours - among all educators, we are the ones uniquely responsible for ensuring that information skills are learned by students. Mike Eisenberg

I've been struggling with [with standards] at the school level.  Here's what I'm juggling:
1) New state standards for Georgia (Georgia Performance Standards)
2) New AASL standards
3) New ISTE standards
4) A state information-literacy check-list (that has been waiting for AASL's and ISTE's updates for revision) ...
The AASL standards are an overview of best practices.  What will they mean K-12?  How do we make sure the rigor and the quality is there?  More importantly, how do we convince our faculty, admin, and politicians that we are driving these standards and pushing American education to a higher level? Lindy P

So, everyone confused at a higher level? Good.

Just what should be the skill focus of our programs and teaching efforts - reading, information literacy, tech skills, none-of-the-above? Are national standard of value and if so how? Are these new standards visionary or vague? Far-sighted or flakey? Will anyone but ISTE and AASL members actually buy into them? Who really did kill JFK? Is Roland Smith actually Bigfoot? Does she or doesn't she? Where's the beef? How can I get rid of that embarrassing wax build up on my floors?

Don't worry, we'll solve all these problems - and more - right here on the Blue Skunk. 



Student standard comparisons and a clean garage


(Click on image for a larger jpg image. For the same diagram as an Inspiration file, click here. Or as a pdf file.)

I spent some time this weekend finally getting around to trying to compare the new NETS Standards to the new AASL Standards. This was a tough go. While I usually write as means of putting off doing chores around the house, I actually cleaned the garage yesterday to delay working on this comparison. This was challenging task, but it was a good way to gain some familiarity with both new publications.

Both sets of standards are more complex than in their previous iterations. Hoping to address some of the widely discussed "knowledge work skills," both documents address creativity, independent learning, higher-order-thinking skills, collaboration/social networking, and life-long learning. More emphasis on the "affective" side of learning, if you will. ISTE has 6 major skills groups with 16 specific skill sets; AASL had only 4 major skill groups with 28 specific skill sets. (AASL also had other specifics in the categories of Dispositions in Action; Responsibilities; and Self-Assessment Strategies. For this comparison, I am ONLY comparing what AASL regards as Skills.)

In working on direct skill to skill comparison, I got frustrated. Separate skills in one document were often combined in the other (and vice versa). Shadings of meaning were evident. But there was still major overlap - even agreement - between the documents on the basics.

I decided a better way to approach the comparison was visually. So I fired up good old Inspiration and the chart diagram you see above is the result. The diagram displays all the areas and at least the basic idea of all skills in both sets of standards (or at least how I interpret them). I then color-coded each set and skill:

  • Red: Information literacy (we can quibble later about the actual name)
  • Yellow: Communication
  • Pink: Collaboration/teamwork
  • Green: Creativity, HOTS, application
  • Blue: Safe and ethical use
  • Purple: Reading skills
  • Orange: Tech skills
  • Light blue: Attitude (I am sure there is a better word for this)

A few initial observations:

  1. Information literacy, regardless of how it is organized, remains a major focus of both sets of standards. Squint and look at the red.
  2. HOTS (along with creativity and application) are a second major emphasis in both standards. I will be interested in seeing model benchmarks and assessment tools for these areas.
  3. ISTE still has some tech-specific skills and AASL some reading-specific skills. But they seem to be only a small part of each set.
  4. There is, as Jacquie Henry in an LM_Net posting calls it, a "slippery" factor to many of these "skills." AASL: "Read, view and listen for pleasure and personal growth" ISTE: "Exhibit leadership for digital citizenship"? Are describing student competencies here or describing a philosophical ideal?
  5. Both sets of skills seem overly ambitious. Schools and states will need to carefully pick and choose which skills will be included in their own IL/IT curriculum models and for embedding in the content area standards.

I would be DELIGHTED to see other comparisons/interpretations of these sets of standards.  Comments, as always, are very welcome.

Hey, and you should see my garage - it's never looked so good!