A Traditional Educational Practice Adapted for the Digital Age

Brugioni, Angela

IL = Information Literacy and 21st Century Skills

Nix, E., Etheridge, B., & Walsh, P. (2014). A Traditional Educational Practice Adapted for the Digital Age. Honors In Practice,10 37-43.

The article describes an alternative MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) and explains why this method transcends the trending pre-recorded digital course MOOC format. MOOCs reach large numbers of learners, and this alternative MOOC developed at the University of Baltimore strives to contribute to “three conversations concerning educational innovation: (1) How can we define and deliver online education to large numbers of students in ways that support excellence? (2) How can digital advances add to an academic institution’s civic engagement? (3) How can honors shape the expectations for massive online experiences?” How does the alternative MOOC combine broad distribution with the ever important in-class discussion? Live broadcasts of weekly seminars allow viewing auditors the ability to watch live, comment live, and continue the conversation. Also, the participating seminar students were asked to read different materials, allowing for variation and setting the class up to be “highly interactive.”

The experience described in this article was admittedly small scale and experimental, but the pilot project was inexpensive and ultimately reached an audience larger than intended. More importantly the project allowed participating honor students and the honors program itself the opportunity to use innovative practices. As the article describes, educators often praise innovative practices meanwhile safely falling back on tried and practical pedagogy. True advancement happens however, when traditional standards are maintained while exercising innovative learning practices.

Inquiry Learning Vs. Standardized Content

Jessica Benson
Markham, T. (2013). Inquiry Learning Vs. Standardized Content: Can They Coexist? Mind/Shift. KQED. Retrieved from
Markham argues that sooner or later inquiry-standards will take precedence over content-based standards,” with the learning process at the forefront. This new method of teaching and learning seems to be at odds with a standards-based curriculum. Markham offers suggestions for integrating 21stcentury skills into the curriculum, a start toward effective project based learning and inquiry based education.

Intentional instruction and team learning form the basis of Markham’s article. The question remains, however: How do educators shift into PBL and deep inquiry while addressing the standards and testing? Markham points out some of the major obstacles, but I do wish the article delved deeper into setting a balance between inquiry and content. The problems and opportunities of the shift to inquiry-based learning only begin at the practical, implementation level. 

Transforming Collaboration

Young, Alice

CO-Collaboration Strategies

Transforming Collaboration.
Jones, S. A., & GREEN, L. (2012). Transforming Collaboration. Teacher Librarian, 40(2), 26-31.

The article discusses benefits of collaborative partnerships to school librarians that are associated to the physical schedule of classroom teacher. It is stated that using open-source Web 2.0 technologies in developing online learning, librarians can harness the power of virtual collaboration to impact student learning anytime, anywhere. Online learning is defined by International Association for K-12 Online Learning as education in which instruction and content are delivered over the Internet and does not include print-based correspondence education, broadcast television and stand-alone educational software programs. The author discusses online learning providing librarians with collaborative ways to infuse information literacy within K-12 curriculum.

The authors propose that school librarians participate in virtual collaboration with teachers through the design, development, and employment of online learning units. These units incorporate multiple lessons that extend learning through technology-rich experiences not available in f2f interactions with an array of multimedia tools in a myriad of ways. An advantage is that online learning allows the librarian to deliver critical instruction despite the lack of f2f time during the school day. Even if the librarian is not available, students can still access the instruction. The online units are not constrained either by the library’s physical space or the presence or absence of staff. Also there is equitable voice given to the student population. The teacher librarian might not be present at the actual time of instruction, but in a collaborative technology, could be present alongside the teacher at other times during the school day. Below is a graph of the Independent Unit presented in the article.

iPods, iPads, and the SMARTBoard…

Young, Alice 

IL-Media Literacy

iPods, iPads, and the SMARTBoard: Transforming literacy instruction and student learning.
Saine, P. (2012). iPods, iPads, and the SMARTBoard: Transforming literacy instruction and student learning. New England Reading Association Journal, 47(2), 74-79.

The article focuses on how iPods, iPads, and the SMARTBoard are transforming literacy instruction and the way students are learning in classrooms in the U.S. Teachers mention that when students engage in digital literacy activities, they see these tools as exciting and unique, but often not as schoolwork, while some teachers also claim students become more creative in their thinking. Discussion highlights how teachers have these tools into their instructional activities.

The author indicates whether teaching in an urban, rural, or international school, teachers of literacy are integrating iPods, iPads, and the SMARTBoard in the classroom to make their instructional activities more appealing and exciting for their students. It seems as the tools continue to transform instruction, students in the process develop lifelong skills needed for success in this global society. A few lesson plan were described, among the method discussed were podcasting, whiteboard, story-telling and word-processing apps. This is a step in the right direction for the learning environment, there are so much variety of apps and mechanism that students can utilize and explore to deepen and make their learning more enjoyable and captivating.

Jolene Nechiporenko


Shananhan, T. (2013).  Common core ate my baby.  Educational Leadership, 70(4), 10-16.

Debunking myths about the common core state standards.

In his article, The Common Core at My Baby, Timothy Shananhan tackles some common fearful myths surrounding the common core state standards.

#1     New standards prohibit teachers from setting purposes for reading or discussing prior

Shananhan tells us that “preparation should be brief and should focus on providing students with the tools they need t make sense of the text on their own.”

#2     Teachers are no longer required to teach phonological awareness, phonics, or fluency.

“…the new standards require as much early emphasis on decoding and fluency as in the recent past, and claims to the contrary are no more than myths, not breaking from NCLB. 

#3     English teachers can no longer teach literature in literature classes.

“Clearly, the new standards involve more than just reading novels, stories, poems, and plays and interpreting literary devices.”  Students will need to do more reading in informational texts such as science or history.
#4     Teachers must teach students at frustration levels.

The CCSS “indicate specific levels of text difficulty that students must be able to handle by the end of each school year.  These levels are considerably higher than current levels.”

#5     Most schools are already teaching to the new standards.

“Writing instruction will need to focus more on writing about the ideas in texts and less on just putting personal thoughts into words.  At the same time, reading will involve more critical analysis and synthesis of information from multiple texts.”

Shananhan explains that we can either shift our practices now or we can wait to our communities find out how ‘well’ we’re really doing. (2013)

Jolene Nechiporenko


Gewertz, C. (2013).  A common core for everyone. Education Week. 33(10), S4-S6.

The Common Core Challenge for Special Educators

Catherine Gewertz discuses the common core and how it will be an additional challenge for already challenged students, especially when it comes to standardized testing.  She discusses the well intended principle of universal testing and the overall stress put on educators.

“…accommodations might not be enough for some students who are used to assistive technologies that might not dovetail well with the consortium tests.  Advocates for special-needs students worry that those children’s test performances could be compromised if they’re not allowed to use the support they’re accustomed to.”

“Rhetoric around teaching the common core often points to the standards’ promise for those students most in need of deeper, more rigorous study.  But for some educators, conversations about how to fulfill that promise have stalled at a frustrating abstract level.”

Keith, E.K.

CO – Collaboration
CO – Collaboration Tools
IL – Communication of Products
online learning

The Must-Have Tools for Online Learning


Davidson, P. (2014, January 8). The must-have tools for online learners. Retrieved from Edudemic: http://www.edudemic.com/tools-for-online-learners/
More collaboration tools! This is a list of tools that the author believes are essential for online learning. Although Blogger is one of the items mentioned, this list seems to assume that everyone already knows about the Google options, and offers ideas outside of that box. The list headings are generic, and the author offers specific details in the text. The applications mentioned in the article are all free to use. They include: Blogger, KidBlog, UberConference, Facebook, Evernote, and Edmodo.
Here are the must-have tools for online learners:
* Webcam
* Headset
* Blog
* Conference Program
* Social Media
* Software to use for note-taking
* Educational Software for online learning
Because this is a very good-looking blog, the fact-checker in me always goes to the source. So, I went to each of these sites to check them out. There were a couple that really got my attention. UberConference holds really interesting possibilities for collaboration, and I wonder if anyone in our class has any experience using it. Evernote also got my attention, and while I was there I also learned about Skitch. If you like to annotate pictures, check out Skitch. It is also free.
This list is helping me grow my understanding of the number of FREE tools that are out there to aid in online collaboration and online learning. It is also making it clear how quickly things change in the online world!


Problems with Standardized Testing

Young, Alice

CA-Assessment Strategies

Problems with Standardized Testing
Evans, J. (2013, November 4). Problems with standardized testing. Retrieved from http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Test_Problems_Seven/

This article provides the flaws of standardized testing to include the following and gives a realistic perception on standardized testing. The topic of standardized testing has been the center of controversy for many educators. Although NCLB aim is to hold public schools to high standards of education measured by students test scores, the issues of test scores is that it does not provide for a proper learning experience in general. In addition, with the funding aspects dependent on test scores, the schools focus on agenda and purpose prioritize over education, making it into a business institution. The article offered a simple examination for the problems with standardized testing.

Bringing Brain Research Into Teaching

Young, Alice

ET – Brain Research

Bringing Brain Research Into Teaching.
Brown, B. (2012). Bringing Brain Research Into Teaching. Principal, 91(3), 34-35.

The article discusses the application into teaching of the Mind, Brain, and Education (MBE) model, developed by Harvard professor Kurt Fischer, in Jacob Shapiro Brain Based Instruction Laboratory School in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It states that school staff members must learn two approaches to MBE implementation, such as regulating emotional states of learners and teach thinking skills. It says that the students indicate growth after three years of Measure of Academic Progress assessments.

The article indicates enabling teachers to understand how children think and learn can improve their problem-solving and reasoning skills. To apply the model, adults must understand that the system of the brain responsible for impulse control, critical thinking, and other self-regulation functions do not mature until around age 24. These teaching tools for the 21st century must be multidimensional. Using neuroscience as the foundation for learning may be essential to remain competitive in the global economy. The practice promotes techniques and concepts which gives optimistic insight for this type of teaching.

Expanding the School Library Media Specialist’s Role: Integrating Close Reading into the Library Curriculum

Jessica Benson
Harris, J. (2014). Expanding the School Library Media Specialist’s Role: Integrating Close Reading Activities into the Library Curriculum. Library Media Connection. 14-16.
A look at close reading techniques, its importance to literacy skills, and the school media specialist’s role in the school reading/literacy program. Harris’s article lists steps that can be taken by the school media specialist to incorporate close reading activities in the library curriculum. The librarian helps students ask and answer higher level questions, and connects the texts to their lives.
Harris gives good overall advice for incorporating the school librarian deeper into the learning process, as well as points about the increasingly important role of the school media specialist, and collaboration between class teacher and librarian. Also some great first, second and third reading questions to get students thinking and engaging with the text!