Leveling the digital playing field
A few years ago teacher librarian Deb Temperly noticed significant discrepancies in the technology skills of her students at Bettendorf Middle School. Although her school does not have a one-to-one laptop program, students were expected to conduct online research and complete digital projects with minimal instruction. Not all of the 1,100 plus students had the skills to do so.
Temperly and classroom teacher Connie Jeschke recently addressed these issues in a presentation at the Iowa Technology and Education Connection (ITEC) Conference entitled "Get Everyone in the Game: Leveling the Digital Playing Field."
According to Temperly, the different levels of technology skills did not stem primarily from the digital divide—some students having Internet access at home and some not. “At home, students are just playing games and being consumers. They aren’t working on tech skills,” she explained. Instead, she and her colleagues found that students’ tech expertise varied widely by which elementary school they went to or which middle school house they were placed in.
To address these deficiencies, Temperly and her colleagues worked both “horizontally and vertically.” At the elementary level, district librarians collaborated to create a more uniform technology curriculum. At the middle school, digital literacy courses for all sixth and seventh graders are now taught by Temperly, Jeschke and three other classroom teachers. The curriculum was planned by asking teachers which skills students need at the middle school level as well as in the high school's one-to-one environment.
At the ITEC Conference in Des Moines on October 13, Temperly and Jeschke described their digital literacy curriculum including their flipped classroom approach to teaching digital citizenship, Google Apps, electronic portfolios and other key applications. “The previous computer course was based on a direct instruction model which didn’t work very well,” said Temperly. She and Jeschke now flip the classroom by making screen casts to teach specific skills, allowing students to revisit the screen casts as needed and giving teachers more time to engage with students.
The courses are working well said Temperly. Students have more confidence and independence with technology, and the content teachers can focus on their curriculum rather than teaching tech skills.
An experienced elementary school teacher, Temperly received a MA in Administration from Drake University before finding her home in the school library and earning a teacher librarian endorsement through UNI. Temperly said her decision to become a librarian was not based solely on her love of reading and kids. “What I was really looking for was a way to positively impact an entire building,” she noted. “Being a teacher librarian enables me to do that.”
To help students develop digital literacy skills and evaluate online sources, Dr. Karla Krueger has developed the ABCD model. The model, which stands for Authority, Bias, Coverage, and Date, offers a tool for developing and practicing the critical skill of evaluating online information. Karla Krueger, an assistant professor of School Library Studies at University of Northern Iowa, described the model in an article titled “Evaluating Information with ABCD (Authority, Bias, Coverage, and Date)” and published in School Library Monthly in September/October 2013. The article includes an introductory handout for upper elementary and middle school students as well as a more advanced handout for middle school and high school. Read more.
School Library Studies student Tyllie Corbin presented at the 2014 Iowa 1:1 Institute on April 10, 2014 in Des Moines on “Teaching Tech with Tyllie.” As the K-12 teacher librarian for Denver Community Schools, Iowa, Corbin helps implement a 1:1 program which provides each student in grades 1-12 with an Apple device. Read more.