The Learning 2.0 School

Shifting Perceptions of Teaching and Learning in and out of the School Library

“I had a very positive interview experience at Westmont High School.”

Posted by Michelle Torrise on May 15, 2009

“Thank you to the entire selection committee at Westmont High School for taking the time to share your vision with me and for allowing me the opportunity to share my skills and experience with you.   I am, of course, very excited about the opportunity to join your team of deducted professionals.”

It is always great to talk with other professionals about the effective integration of information literacy and technology in the classroom.  I was really impressed with the insight expressed by my colleagues at Westmont High School, who see the integration of information literacy and technology as a necessary component of a 21st century curriculum and who also understand the urgency to define information literacy and technology instruction in terms of standards and assessments.

For a good part of our interview, we talked about specific technologies and ways that they might be used to increase student engagement and literacy.  We also discussed how important it is that the media specialist demonstrate practical applications of technology within the context of specific subjects.

What I learned is that teachers understand the value of using technology, but they don’t always have the time to redesign their curriculum so that it can be used effectively.  It is, therefore, important for the media specialist to provide teachers with a framework, as well as specific examples and demonstrations of how technology can be effectively integrated within existing curricula.

On a higher order, media specialists should align goals for information literacy and technology integration with the philosophical values of our school communities (e.g., to prepare students to be active members of a democratic society).  If we do so effectively, it will be clear to all constituents that we need to work collaboratively to provide students with skills they will actually need and can use to successfully participate and contribute as responsible and engaged “21st century” citizens.

In terms of curriculum planning, media specialists first need to identify the skills students need to have related to emerging technologies and new ways of organizing and accessing information so they will be competitive as they enter college and eventually the workforce.  In practice, media specialists need to make teaching and learning engaging and authentic so that students know how to apply these skills in real world contexts.

Borrowing from the symbolism of the Westmont High School’s identity as a Sentinel Community, we might even go so far as to say in general about all high school communities…

“If we, as educators, are to be effective Sentinels in guarding the intellectual freedom of our students, we need to embolden them with the tools they will need as productive citizens of a 21st century society–so that they contribute not only to the productivity of our economy, but also to the collective wealth of knowledge that has shaped our great democracy.”

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