Teaching our way to digital equity

Lauer, Alicia


Reich, J. (2019). Teaching our way to digital equity. Educational Leadership, 76(5), 30-35. http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb19/vol76/num05/Teaching-Our-Way-to-Digital-Equity.aspx

Summary: Not only do we have a digital divide in our schools, reflecting inequitable access to technology, we also have what Reich calls a “usage divide.” This divide reflects the type of work that students are asked to do; are students using technology to create, or are they essentially completing digital worksheets? In more affluent spaces, students are not only asked to do more sophisticated work with technology, they are also more likely to be viewed as innovators. Reich contrasts this to the experiences of students on the other side of the usage divide, who are not supported in more enriching technological tasks and who are also more likely viewed as slackers or time-wasters if they do engage in screen time. This usage divide occurs between schools, but it also occurs within schools. Students in advanced tracks are often given access to more powerful technical learning opportunities.

Reich advocates for several practices to combat the usage divide. First, we need practices that support equity in all areas of education, but certainly in ways that support all students’ access to enriching curriculum around technology. Also, educators need to get to know their students’ interests and connect those interests to technology and careers that might apply to those interests. Educators must see these interests as assets. Technology must be integrated into required classes, not just electives where only some students get access. Finally, schools must audit their practices: who is experiencing an innovative tech-rich curriculum within and between schools? Those realities must be acknowledged so they can be better addressed.

Evaluation: Reich offers an important challenge to all schools and districts to reflect on the tech experiences they are providing for students, and which students benefit the most from those opportunities. As teacher librarians, we need to work for equity within and between schools, and Reich offers some helpful advice to get us started.

Virtual Reality Comes to the Classroom

Lauer, Alicia


McMurtrie, B. (2019). Virtual Reality Comes to the Classroom: The possibilities for creating new ways of learning are wide-ranging, but so are the challenges. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 65(34), A8. Retrieved from https://sjsu-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/egdih2/TN_gale_ofa589967479


McMurtrie offered many examples of inventive instruction that uses XR in the classroom, albeit at the college level. Content creation with XR invites students to use the “digital to keep the conversation going” (para. 12), providing unique opportunities to demonstrate analysis and other higher level thinking skills. The interactive, immersive learning opportunities that XR can provide allow students to more personally engage with the content. Further, XR offers the benefit of repeated practice that might be impractical or impossible in a regular instructional setting. For example, conductors-in-training can log much more time at the podium “rehearsing” with a virtual orchestra that can respond to their movements than would be possible for most music students. Veterinary schools can give students practice x-raying horses much more easily through VR than by bringing in live creatures.

McMurtrie also considers some potential challenges of instructional use of XR. Although it clearly offers a novel way to engage students and has clear benefits for those who need explicit spatial training (such as medical students studying surgery), the data is not yet there to support clear pedagogical benefits.


Even with her acknowledgments of the challenges and the lack of clear data about the benefits of this technology, McMurtrie seems solidly in support of XR’s potentially transformative impact on education. The article acknowledges that it is important to tie technology to an intentional pedagogical purpose. As Jeremy Bailenson—a founding director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University—comments in the article, teachers should “start with a problem that needs to be solved, as opposed to, ‘We have this cool VR thing and let’s see how to use it’” (para. 7). As long as student thinking and learning is put in the forefront, XR seems like a powerful and useful tool.

Tags: Technology, Mixed reality

Collaboration and the Value of Assessments

Name: Nicdao, Jocelyn

Topic: CO

Citation: Moreillon, J. (2019). Co-planning and co-implementing assessment and evaluation strategies for inquiry learning. Knowledge Quest, 47(3), 40-47. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1201075.pdf

Summary: Moreillon discusses the importance of school librarians to work in “comprehensive collaboration” with classroom teachers and/or learning specialists in order to be valuable in the academic partnership. In such collaborative efforts, both school librarians and classroom teachers and/or learning specialists actively work together in the planning, implementation, assessment, and evaluation of a unit. More specifically, Moreillon emphasizes the value and use of assessments especially from both the school librarian and classroom teacher and/or learning specialist. Assessments coming from the collaboration of two or more adults allow for reliability and for different perspectives in practice and in the learning process. Assessments guide in the co-planning of learning throughout the unit, focused on the “what?” and the “how?” students learn in the process and the quality of that learning. Further, assessments allow for the co-implementation of further academic supports such as small groups or one-on-one for students who may struggle or the co-implementation of lessons to reteach with examples or to  re-frame for the whole class. Moreover, assessments inform the evaluation of the unit itself, with both the school librarian and classroom teacher and/or learning specialists seeing its successes and needs for improvement and thereby, planning for the next unit.

Evaluation: I find that Moreillon is basically encouraging school librarians to be a valuable part of the collaboration process, using assessments as tools to collaborate successfully with the classroom teacher and/or learning specialist in the planning, implementation, assessment, and evaluation of a co-taught unit. With that, she includes in this article examples of forms that can be used in the collaboration process. As she points out the many benefits and examples of co-assessments from both librarian and classroom teacher and/or learning specialist, I realize how much rich input school librarians can provide in co-teaching a unit and thus, become a prolific part of the academic partnership.

Grading for Understanding

Joseph Asbury

Topic: Standards-based grading

Zimmerman, T. (2017). Grading for understanding: Standards-based grading. The physics teacher, 55.

Summary: In this article, Zimmerman describes what standards-based grading is and how he has used it in his various introductory physics classes. He uses the terminology learning objectives-based assessment (LOBA) as a synonym for standards-based grading (SBG). There are seven steps to Zimmerman’s implementation of LOBA: write objectives, determine how to grade, keep track of objectives, determine format of assessments, determine reassessments, jump into LOBA, and explain things early and often to students. Zimmerman does acknowledge the limitations of larger class sizes.

Evaluation: Zimmerman’s ideas here are nicely broken down into managable comoponents. Even though his discipline is different than mine, I found his steps doable. They make sense across any discipline. With Zimmerman’s acknowledgment that class size can be a burden, he realizes this isn’t perfect, but standards-based grading can be useful and beneficial to teachers and, more importantly, students. The students should be taking a stronger ownership of their education.