"There is a growing body of research that documents the effect of a strong school library program on student achievement, and we need the data on staffing, size and age of collections, and budgets spent on resources to get a picture of a strong program that makes a difference for students." AASL President, Sara Kelly Johns.
The above quote comes from the eSchool News article School library research makes the case for more targeted support, September 18, 2007. The results aren't as interesting as the interpretation of the results of the first national survey on school library media programs. But I guess that is always the case... The article is worth reading, but the full report won't be released until AASL in October.
A few other recently published papers:
Do Our Students Measure Up? How to Define and Assess Student Technology Proficiency. Technology & Learning. Yes, it is basically a 25 page advertisement for Learning.com's online assessment tool, but it raises some interesting questions about how to assess student tech proficiency. (Here is another approach to tech skill assessment.)
Reading Revisited: Evaluating the Usability of Digital Display Surfaces for Active Reading Tasks. Microsoft, October 2007. Sort of an oblique look at why paper is still the reading medium of choice. Cutting to the chase: Although digital systems have improved their support for active reading in the last ten years, there is still room for improvement. Yup. I was surprised digital ink (which does not require constant screen refreshes and is easier on the eyes) was not mentioned at all, and screen resolution was not considered much of a factor.
The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2007. This annual study of college students and their use of technology now includes longitudinal data for the past 3 years. Any guesses about what the trend is? Something all instructors, K-whatever, might want to consider:
For better or worse, students put responsibility for the answer to the question "Does technology improve learning?" squarely on their instructors. Rarely do students attribute IT-related learning problems to their own technical limitations. If the student conclusions are correct, then optimizing technology effectiveness for learning is best focused on four areas:
- developing instructor technology skills
- training instructors on how to effectively integrate technology and pedagogy
- improving the speed, reliability, and support of the institution's network and academic applications. especially course management systems; and
- increasing instructor and administrator awareness about how their students differ in technology savvy and access to technology resources
Beyond the Basics: Achieving a Liberal Education for All Children. Thomas B Fordham Institute, July 2007. Chester E. Finn and Diane Ravitch have compiled an extensive set of essays on why we need to go beyond the 3r's and narrow technical training when considering the education our children and our society need. From Finn's introduction:
STEMs Without Flowers
Recent days have brought yet another challenge to liberal learning in the schools: well-meaning business leaders and policy makers,rightly concerned about America’s (and their states’) competitiveness and the dearth of highly skilled workers able to sustain tomorrow’s technology-driven economy, are pushing so-called STEM (Science,Technology,Engineering,and Mathematics) training.
STEM seeks to give students the skills needed to handle the technology-rich tools that undergird the modern economy.Understandably,leading proponents of STEM have included the Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM),vividly aware ofthe difficulties that employers face in finding,hiring,and retaining such people.NAM reports,for example,that 90 percent of
America’s manufacturers now face shortages of skilled production employees such as machinists, operators,craft workers,distributors,and technicians.
Such problems are real.Yet those who see K-12 education as the solution to them are pointing America toward yet another curricular tightening and another round of unintended consequences. In the long run,America’s true competitive edge is not its technical prowess but its creativity, its imagination, its inventiveness, its people’s capacity to devise new solutions,to innovate, to invest new organizational as well as technological forms,and to eke productivity gains out of what others see as static situations.STEM cannot claim to inculcate such attributes any more than the basic-skills folks can. Indeed,too much STEM may mean too few leaves and flowers.If children are deprived ofthe rich content of American history,as well as the history ofo ther cultures, geography, the arts, languages, and literature,they will face unmanageable challenges on many fronts.
I have to admit I've not read the entire 192 page book, but it looks promising. I've been a Diane Ravitch fan since her book, The Language Police came out in 2003.
Finally, just a nod to Harrison and Killion's article "Ten Roles for Teacher Leaders" in this month's Educational Leadership. (Sorry only the abstract is available free online.) They list and describe these things teachers as leaders do:
- Resource Provider
- Instructional Specialist
- Curriculum Specialist
- Classroom Supporter
- Learning Facilitator
- School Leader
- Data Coach
- Catalyst for Change
What jumped out at me is that the authors describe what so many library media specialists ARE ALREADY DOING!
Cat reading image from Postmark Press.
What reports have caught your eye lately?