These four pillars exemplify the focus and areas we believe students need to be literate in the 21st Century.
The old question: “Where did you find it?” 15 years ago, finding relevant information was a difficult and time consuming task. Libraries were essential because they provided access to the only information available. But with the Internet, online library databases and other digital sources, finding relevant information is almost instantaneous. Does this make the library obsolete? The NEW question: “Why do you trust it?” Today, information is easily accessible and published from a wide array of sources. But while there is far more information available to students in school than ever before, not all of it is to be trusted. The critical evaluation of information sources is essential for today's informed citizen. Challenge students as to why they select information sources. Information Literacy is perhaps the biggest new challenge for the library and for every learner. Teachers need to consider a new array of valid sources of information, but should require students to justify their choices. Library staff can help by instructing students on how to validate a resource for use in school-work, and how to keep their own catalogs of information.
The world has always been profoundly impacted by new communications technologies. The telegraph fundamentally changed world events by delivering messages over the Atlantic almost instantly. Today, our networks facilitate a speed and diversity of communication methods that stagger the mind. From video conferences to live streams of text, it is now perfectly normal to engage in a conversation with someone (indeed many someones) from anywhere on the globe. Students today need to master how to use even the tiniest bit of information to contact a potential colleague, strike up a conversation and begin a productive working relationship. And it's happening in Littleton Public Schools! It is becoming commonplace for students to meet and discuss books with authors, not just produce reports about them.
Productivity and Publishing
Gutenberg‟s first printing press was invented in Europe around 1439. The Renaissance, the Reformation, The American Revolution and the French Revolution were all powered by this new technology that shifted the power of publishing from the scribes of the Church and the Monarchy to private citizens. Today, our students have more publishing power than Sam Adams and Paul Revere ever had! Who knows what this will mean for society? Now that it no longer takes expensive machines and a massive distribution network to publish an idea that can reach millions, any person could be the next great influence on our world. There may seem like a lot of chaos right now in this new medium, but that only means change is afoot. We need to educate our students to master this power of publishing so they can lead the way!
When we first saw the Internet, people quickly grasped the risk of young people being exposed to inappropriate material. But today, the situation is different. We are not asking students to simply be observers of the information online; mere consumers of information. We are asking them to become fully interactive with the body of knowledge and communication the Internet represents today. Personal safety is therefore even more important. Teachers must help translate the “stranger danger” sensibilities we all have in the real world into cyberspace. Kids need to learn that their identities are valuable. They need to know how to deal with cyber-bullies and avoid scams that abound online. And they need to develop a global perspective as they interact with people from around the world. The days of isolation are over and our students need world-class skills.
Our goals for educational technology and information literacy shall be oriented around strategies that will inspire students to take personal ownership of their learning. Only through embracing a philosophy of life-long-learning will our graduates thrive in the 21st Century.
Inspired Writing: Our district-wide focus for educational technology in Littleton Public Schools shall be on developing the most effective and powerful writers we can among our learners. Through writing, the journalist illuminates politics, the poet tickles the psyche and the scholar advances the body of human knowledge.
For Elementary Schools
Powering Up Writing: Support the Universal Literacy Framework effort from Learning Services by orienting the deployment of classroom sets of laptops in 5th grades around the Lucy Calkins Writer’s Workshop. Students will employ the computer as a writing tool to pre-write, draft, revise, conference, edit and publish their work. Students will develop an awareness of the Internet and develop basic search skills. Basic online personal safety and identity protection will be supported. Students will develop basic computer productivity and ergonomic skills.
For Middle Schools
Writing Exploration: Extend the Writer’s Workshop processes by exploring how Web 2.0 tools can enhance each phase of the writing activity. Interactions with peers as well as educators and qualified adults from outside the classroom will give students engaging learning experiences. Students will begin online publishing in more formal settings to gain an understanding of intellectual property. Students will master personal online safety and identity protection. And, students at this level will master the essentials of Information Literacy.
For High Schools
World Class Writing: Prepare students to be competitive applicants for college admission and the work-force by developing strong composition skills. Students will master scholarly writing incorporating library databases and citation management tools that efficiently manage their references. Student technical writing will be evaluated by both subject-area teachers and Language Arts teachers. Creative writing will be incorporated into writing programs even if the thrust of the course is technical in nature. Students will master the art of collaborative writing leveraging Web 2.0 tools. Upon graduation, students will have an impressive digital footprint based on the strength of online published works.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programming will continue to have a strong presence in the district. All middle and high schools support a Technology Education curriculum and a Technology Students Association program supporting the practical arts of design, engineering and problem-solving. This program will be guided by the Technology Education Curriculum. Several elementary schools have also begun robotics and engineering programs that support the STEM concept. Information Technology Skills: Students will master computer productivity tools, Internet safety, Online collaboration, relationship management systems, data management services and the intellectual skills to use all such technologies effectively in alignment with ISTE NETS 2.0.
Ultimately, we believe that basic computing will become a “school supply” item that most students will provide for themselves. Our strategy will accommodate this future trend.
2013 Google Summit Presentation - Dana Levesque
Inspired Writing's success is due to the high level of collaboration with Learning Services. The close ties with the Literacy Initiative and Universal Literacy Framework gave Inspired Writing its clear focus. The work by ETAC that was forwarded and fully supported by the Board of Education gave this project the resources to build and expand as it has. The support of Inspired Writing by our LPS Foundation has been tremendous. Our schools and parent community have seen the success of Inspired Writing and have shown their full support of this project by purchasing even more netbooks carts, while teachers have continued to participate in our professional development workshops in high numbers.
(Educational Technology and Information Literacy)
Inspired Learning: We believe our path to inspired learning in the 21st century is through writing. The importance of writing has never been higher than it is today. Through writing, human knowledge is grown,
communication is extended, productivity is achieved and citizenship is codified. And in nearly every use of technology in the district, writing is a fundamental activity. We believe that by initiating a program of writing supported by netbook computers assigned for student use, we can improve and enhance student learning in all subjects. We believe that by making the focus of the effort about writing, and not the tool, we can inspire our students to engage in learning and master the skills needed for the 21st century.
Learning in the Cloud
Inspired Writing PD Timeline
Professional Development: Dana Levesque and Randy Stall
2013-2014 Inspired Writing: All contents 3rd-12th grade optional
2013-2014 Inspired Learning: All contents Kindergarten-12th grade optional
2012-2013 Inspired Learning: Science/Social Studies 4th-12th optional
2011-2012 Inspired Writing Revisited: 5th - 10th Language Arts
2010-2011 Inspired Writing: 7th, 8th, 10th 1:1 Netbooks in ALL Language Arts
2009-2010 Inspired Writing: 5th, 6th, 9th 1:1 Netbooks in ALL Language Arts
2008-2009 Inspired Writing: Pilot 5th Grade 1:1 Netbooks in pilot classrooms
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Achievement Technology Leadership
Noted professor and author on the use of technology in schools, Dr. Mark Warschauer a
Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy
Laptops and Inspired Writing
The 21st Century is rapidly emerging as the age of information technology. Though many school districts have worked feverishly toward the technology part of this equation, it is important to recognize that the technology is just a tool to acquire and, increasingly, produce and publish the first part of the equation: information. While we all recognize the validity of this statement, school districts in particular have difficulty in reconciling this fact with past classroom practices. This paradigm shift is captured elegantly by such thinkers as Will Richardson, who points out that the 21st century learner must master the change from “do your own work” to “work with others”; from “just in case” to “just in time” learning; and from “hand it in” to “publish it.” Likewise, to paraphrase last year’s keynote speaker at the Technology in Education conference, Dr. Jason Ohler, on literacy in the 21st Century: “Literacy is the ability to write in the medium in which one reads.”
In other words, if our students spend significant time on the web gathering information, which they do, can they truly be considered literate if they don’t know how to publish to the web in a safe, ethical, and thoughtful manner? This question cuts to the heart of the National Council of English’s recent statementabout a shifting definition of literacy. The NCTE offers:
Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies.