Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Vision of 21st Century Learning

When my classmates in EDES 545 and I first started this final project, I never really anticipated what a valuable learning experience it was going to be or how effectively we would work together to exemplify what it means to be a 21st century learner. The idea of working collaboratively was born from a simple Skype call and the rest of the class embraced the idea with enthusiasm. I believe that everyone was willing to take the risk and try something innovative, only because we had already established a safe and supportive camaraderie throughout the course of the semester. There was, and still is, a strong basis of trust, mutual respect, positive support, enthusiasm and encouragement from all of my classmates and also from our instructor, Joanne. She gave us her trust and the freedom to explore, create and learn and without that we never would have been successful.

In creating this Voicethread, it amazes me to see how many of the 21st century skills and characteristics we embodied. The seven of us have never met face to face, and yet we have created an incredibly strong network through the use of skype, the Web CT discussion board, email, elluminate sessions, instant messaging, twitter, the wiki and this voicethread. Any time someone needed help or had a question, there was immediate support through one of these means of communicating. The group was playful and fun to talk with, bounce ideas off of and for the first time in my life, I thoroughly enjoyed doing group work this semester. Every day that we worked on this project, I eagerly checked the voicethread first thing in the morning and periodically throughout the day to see how it was changing and evolving. It was fun and exciting to see the images and ideas presented around them take shape. The suggestion of using Henry Jenkin’s article with which to build our ideas around was inspirational, and the means through which we appropriated the article and added photos, comments, web & video links to create something new was one of the first experiences I’ve had with creating something transformative. Everyone in the group exhibited utmost respect for intellectual property, being careful to chose creative commons photos or creating their own images.

The clearest concept that was exemplified in this project however, was that of collective intelligence. The idea that Ruth presented that discovery is a social process hit the proverbial nail on the head. As everyone in our class worked together on the wiki and the voicethread, real insights were made that likely never would have been otherwise if we were working alone. In this regard, the concept of synergy truly shone through. The whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts!

This project wasn’t without challenges for me or my group however. Multitasking on several final papers and projects at once left me, and I suspect a few other group members, feeling somewhat concerned that we would have enough time to complete our vision of what 21st century learning should look like, with the amount of content and connected reflection process that we felt it deserved. I, for one, had enough difficulty learning how to focus on each concept and how to divide my attention between the ideas without losing my ability to concentrate….all the ideas that were being presented were just so connected, it was difficult to know at times which comment to apply to which slide.

Ruth jokingly mentioned in an email earlier this week that Henry Jenkins just added one more concept to the list and who would take it on at such a late phase? That concept is evolving creation. As I look at what we’ve created in this voicethread, and I listen to my class mates’ reflections my thoughts are still connecting to other’s ideas, and building on what I’ve learned. I think this Voicethread could continue to grow and evolve indefinitely. I feel that as a teacher I am still evolving and changing, and more than ever I am truly a student who has so much learning ahead of me. This has been my biggest shift in thinking this year, and I’ve got to thank Joanne and my class mates for this small epiphany. When I started my leave of absence this year to start my masters, I felt like I was learning in isolation. It wasn’t just because I was living in relative geographic isolation, but mainly because all of my past learning experiences have emphasized individual achievement. Now, after taking the time to build my Personal learning network and making connections to people that have the same interests and passions, I feel that I have a supportive community behind me as I continue my learning. I now understand what Will Richardson meant when he stated that “learning in this environment is about being able to construct, develop, sustain and participate in global networks that render time and place less and less relevant” (Richardson, 2009. p.8)

Will Richardson also said that “we need to make these connections in our own practice first so we can thoroughly understand the pedagogical implications for the classroom.” (2009. p. 8) In Doug Johnson’s blog post on connected teaching, he also suggests that “teachers do their own learning first” and “that they should see themselves as learners in the classroom alongside of their students.” (Johnson, 2010). To me, this idea has created a whole shift in thinking about how I want to teach and interact with my students next year. I have to admit that prior to my learning this year, some of the tech tools that I’ve tried to use in the classroom have simply taken the work that student’s do on paper, and digitized it. I wasn’t giving them the opportunity to share their work with a global audience or giving them the chance to network or participate in the construction of collective cognition. When I think of what Joanne has so transparently modeled for us this year, I now KNOW what it is that I need to do to improve my own practice and to encourage my other colleagues to do. We need to show our students as transparently as possible what it is that we would like to see from them. Joanne was a perfect guide in our learning journey, as was always present in our networks through whichever means we felt the most comfortable communicating with her –whether that was twitter, Facebook, web CT, email, or by phone. As Mark mentioned in the Voicethread, we as teachers, need to be present not only physically in our students’ lives but also in their online networks. I believe Will Richardson is right when he says that we need to help our students understand and prepare for creating their own Personal Learning Networks. By demonstrating to our students that we are life-long learners as well as teachers, we can show them in a transparent way how “to be literate at developing their own connections around the world to be life-long learners in the truest sense” (Richardson, 2007).

Thank you to Joanne, Ruth, Dawn, Natasha, Cynthia, Shirley and Mark for everything you’ve taught me and for being such an important part of my own journey.


Johnson, Doug. (March 30, 2010) Connected teaching. Weblogg-ed. Retrieved from http://weblogged-com/

Richardson, Will. (2009). Blogs, wikis, podcasts and other powerful web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks: CA, Corwin

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Technology Integration

There is no question that “integrating technology into the curriculum is a priority in most schools today” (Starr, 2009). For many teachers the system itself is mandating change by making use of new software for electronic attendance and report cards. Although some teachers may be uncomfortable with technology, I strongly agree that “educators must rise to the challenge of closing the digital divide in education” by teaching students how to “manipulate various forms of new media with a high level of comfort and skill” (Mullen, 2008). This can be a huge challenge for some teachers who lack the experience or skills to use new technology themselves. In addition, many teachers can attest that they feel they are inundated with too many daily demands placed on them by their students, parents, administrators and departmental colleagues, as illustrated in the video below:

This humorous “rant” reminded me of and article titled "All Aboard!" which stated that implementing 21st century skills instruction will be successful "only when those skills are seen as relevant to the pressing agendas that coexist in schools" (Carpenter & Carpenter, 2009). For teachers who have been around for a long time, and seen many different agendas and trends in education come and go it's easy to understand their reluctance to embrace something new. So “how can [technology] be seen as part of the solution instead of another nagging problem?” (Carpenter & Carpenter, 2009). Quite simply, teachers need to see how technology and new tools can “help make teaching and learning more meaningful and fun” as well as more effective and easier, instead of being just "one more thing" that is expected of them from administration? (George Lucas, 2010).

“Most educational experts agree that technology should be integrated, not as a separate subject or as a once-in-a-while project, but as a tool to promote and extend student learning on a daily basis” (Starr, 2009). For effective technology integration to be achieved its use should support curricular goals as well as the four key components of learning: active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts (George Lucas, 2010). Teachers should also recognize that it is still crucial to focus on the curriculum and pedagogy, not the computer skill or technological tools being used (Norris, n.d.).

Teachers need to continue to focus on designing authentic learning tasks and guided inquiry projects that meet curricular goals, but also extend the learning outside the classroom with the use of new technology. Teachers should focus on creating assignments and projects that (Johnson, 2004):
-are relevant to the student's life
-answer real questions
-are hands-on
-allow the learner to reflect, revisit, revise and improve
-are authentically assessed, and
-are shared with people who care and respond.

There are a multitude of new Web 2.0 tools that can help achieve these authentic learning experiences in all subjects and grade levels. They are relatively easy to learn and lots of fun to use! Some of my favourites that are now a part of my daily routine are:

1. Google Earth and Google Maps – As a science teacher, the applications to Google Earth, such as Google Earthquake which show real-time data is indispensable!

2. YouTube & School Tube – There are a multitude of video clips that can quickly and easily enhance ANY lesson.

3. Google Docs – Easily allow students to collaborate and share material as they are working on group projects.

4. Google Reader (RSS)- Helps students to not only create their own, specialized ‘virtual’ newspaper of sites and blogs that they like to read daily, but can also be used to search for information 24/7 and organize a multitude of information.

5. & Diigo – Are excellent social bookmarking sites that can help both students and teachers find the information they are looking for, but also share pertinent sites quickly.

6. Wikispaces & Pbworks – Are wiki sites that are easy to set up and can be used for online collaboration projects with students.

7. Flickr – An amazing photo sharing site that makes it fun to take class photos of the activities we are working on. Many of the images that are available to students are a part of the Creative Commons and can also be used in student projects.

Teachers also need to take the pressure off themselves to be the ‘expert’ in the classroom and accept that it is ok, and even encouraged, that they “own their own learning first [and] that they see themselves as learners in the classroom alongside of their students”, particularly when it come to learning new technology and information literacy skills (Johnson, 2010). When students are in the computer lab, teachers should support them with content area and facilitate students working together in a collaborative fashion to help each other with the technology (Norris, n.d.). It will become obvious fairly quickly which students are experts and can assist their classmates (and teachers!) with the hardware and software they are learning (Norris, n.d.).

“Who dares to teach must never cease to learn”

- John Cotton Dana


Carpenter, David. Carpenter, Margaret. (Dec/Jan 2008-09). All Aboard! Learning & Leading with Technology. p. 18-21.

George Lucas Educational Foundation. (2010). Core Concepts: Technology Integration. Retrieved from:

Johnson, Doug. (March 30, 2010). Connected Teaching. Weblogg-ed. Retrieved from:

Johnson, Doug. (March 2004). Plagarism- Proofing Assignments. Doug Johnson. Retrieved from:

Mullen, Rebecca. (Nov/Dec 2008). Avoiding the Digital Abyss: Getting Started in the Classroom with YouTube, Digital Stories, and Blogs. The Clearing House (82) 2. p. 66-69.

Starr, Linda. (August 11, 2009). Technology Integration Made Easy. Education World. Retrieved from:

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Teachers are Students & Learners Too

When I was back in Squamish for a visit last week, and I kept bumping into former students at the gas station, the grocery store, the local coffee shop and the post office. It is always so heartwarming to be greeted with a smile and “hey Ms. H, where have you been lately?” When I tell them that I took the year off teaching to become a student again, the typical response is “Cool! What are you studying?” My quick answer is usually along the lines of “Doing my masters in library studies” but truthfully, the real answer is much more complex than that. I have taken so many interesting and challenging courses this year that have given me increased knowledge and many new skills in the field of teacher-librarianship, but the most rewarding part of becoming a student again has been learning how to build my own personal learning network (PLN) through the use of new technologies. I now know that “lifelong learning is now possible in ways [I] never imagined” (Guhlin, 2009).

PLNs are learning opportunities that provide a way to move from professional development as a special event, such as a workshop or a once a year conference to “a continuous flow of learning” (Guhlin, 2009). There are many ways to develop a PLN, and many interactive and collaborative tools to use including twitter, nings, social networks, blogs, and social bookmarking sites like Diigo. A PLN becomes a “dedicated learning environment [which] is unique to each individual” and its efficacy depends on how much or how little you chose to share and learn from other individuals in your PLN (Kapuler, 2009). “What makes PLNs so great is that they are different for everybody but their goals are usually the same. That goal is to learn and share knowledge and to find a passion and follow it to the best of your ability” (Kapuler, 2009). This year I have been working on my graduate studies in relative geographic isolation, but I have found an incredible network of people who are passionate about Web 2.0 technology, teaching and libraries with whom I can engage in ongoing discussions and share resources with in an online, global environment. “Technology allows us to reach out and build communities based on resonance and commonality” and I have been very fortunate to find people that I can connect with, and who will continue to support my learning while I am both a student and a teacher (Tchcruiser, 2009). As teacher-librarian at my school, I often felt like I was working in isolation and didn’t have any colleagues to collaborate with regularly. I now feel that I have a supportive community of colleagues with whom I can ask questions and receive timely answers, discuss topics of interest with and who will help me stay aware of educational trends.

Building a PLN diagram. Sue waters.

I have been inspired to build my PLN and continue my professional development because it perfectly fit my learning needs this year. But I wonder how can I inspire and help my other colleagues build their own PLNs and become more comfortable using new strategies and technologies in their own classrooms? It has been shown that “technology infusion without professional development wrapped around it just doesn’t work, and can backfire” (Ketterer, 2008, p. 11). There are many methods and models upon which to design Educational Technology Professional Development (ETPD) and I highly recommend the “One Size Doesn’t Fit All” series of articles by Judi Harris, which not only details 20 different models to design professional development sessions, but also discusses which types of models suit various learning styles and how to assess if the training is effective. A variety of models should be used and the professional development sessions will be most effective if they “align with participating teachers’ professional learning needs, interests and contextual realities” (Harris, 2008, p.19). For teachers to ‘buy into’ furthering their own professional development and using new forms of technology, I truly believe that they need to see how it can benefit their own teaching practice. The national Staff Development Council (NSDC) has concluded that for effective professional development to occur for teachers it should (Harris, 2008, p.21):
• be conducted in school settings
• be linked to school wide efforts
• be concrete
• be planned and offered by teachers
• be differentiated according to teacher’s differing needs and interests
• address goals and contain learning activities that are chosen by teachers
• emphasize demonstrations, trials of new tools and techniques and provide opportunities for participants to both receive and give feedback
• be ongoing over time
• provide ongoing assistance and support

To initiate, encourage and support other teachers in this type of peer-to peer network, and provide mentorship, Gagliolo (2008, p.39) suggests the following steps:
1. Plan collaboratively with a focus on student learning
2. Create a network of support by holding regular meetings and short training sessions
3. Create professional development opportunities led by teacher coaches
4. co-teach in the classroom to provide extra support when implementing new ideas or technology
5. Observe classroom learning with constructive feedback
6. Celebrate success by sharing at staff meetings or posting on the school website

Most importantly, one of my colleagues pointed out this week, that before we begin “our quest to move into a more integrated technology-supported professional development model we first need to have a clear sense of what we are about and why” (Jorgenson, 2010). This reflective and collaborative values clarification is a vital step that is often missing in our staff professional development endeavors and sometimes in our personal professional development as well (Jorgenson, 2010). The goals need to be made transparent, conscious and explicit for all participants at the beginning of the professional development program (Harris, 2008).

Clear goal-setting that addresses how technology with benefit student needs, proper professional development that is differentiated to meet teacher needs, as well as ongoing collaboration and assistance from peers and mentors is essential to making technology integration part of teachers’ professional development. I believe Will Richardson is right when he says that we need to help our students understand and prepare for creating their own Personal Learning Networks. By demonstrating to our students that we are life-long learners as well as teachers, we can show them in a transparent way how “to be literate at developing their own connections around the world to be life-long learners in the truest sense” (Richardson, 2007).

Gagliolo, Camilla (Sept/Oct 2008). Help Teachers Mentor One Another. Learning & Leading with Technology. p.39

Guhlin, Miguel. (August 19, 2009). Light the Flame: PLNs in Schools. Around the Retrieved from:

Harris, Judi. (February 2008). One Size Doesn’t Fit All (Part 1). Learning & Leading with Technology. p. 18-23.

Jorgensen, Shirley. (March 31, 2010). Information Tech for Learning: Technology Professional Development Discussion Question One [Msg 7]. Message Posted to:

Kapuler, David. (November 23, 2009). Special Guest Post: Personal Learning Networks. The Unquiet Librarian. Retrieved from:

Ketterer, Kimberly. (June/July 2008). A Professional Development Menu. Learning & Leading with Technology. p.11.

Richardson, Will. (December 7, 2007). The Future. YouTube. Retrieved from:

Tchcruiser. (December 5, 2009). Final Reflection eci831-09. YouTube. Retrieved from:

Waters, Sue. PLN Yourself Wiki. Retrieved on April 2, 2010 from:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Privacy matters

I grew up just outside the small village of Wellesley, that only had a population of 500 inhabitants (give or take). Everyone in town knew who I was, and privacy did not exist – especially with the party phone lines. As a result, there is very little difference between my personal and social identities. What you see, is what you get. I feel that this is pretty important when working in a profession that keeps us constantly in the public eye, and teachers are often held to a higher standard of behaviour than the general public whether we are on or off the job. “School districts expect teachers to set a ‘moral’ example” both in person and online in both our personal and professional lives (Johnson, 2008). After several years of traveling the world and attending large Universities that allowed me to blend into the anonymity of larger crowds, I chose to settle in a small town with a similar feel to the one I grew up in. I’ve come to discover that I like knowing the cashier at my grocery store personally and appreciate seeing my students or their parents on the trails mountain biking or sailing with them during weekend races. It may not always be convenient to run into my students while sun tanning at the lake, or enjoying a bonfire with my friends at the river, but I still feel that I don’t have to live separate public and private lives. As Palfrey and Gasser note, digital natives also do not separate their personal and social identities “because these forms of identity exist simultaneously and are so closely linked to one another, Digital Natives almost never distinguish between the online and offline versions of themselves” (2008, p. 20). However, the difference that exists between me and my students is the ability to “recognize the risks associated with online activities [and] the knowledge and tools to mitigate those risks” particularly when it comes to privacy. (Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada).

According to the office of the privacy commissioner of Canada, “about half of Canadian youth say they never read privacy policies on websites they visit and the majority believes that if a website has a privacy policy, the information they provide will not be shared with anyone else”. There is also plenty of other evidence that also suggests “that no one…reads privacy policies or does much to adjust the default settings for online services” ( Palfrey & Gasser, 2008, p. 57). This false sense of security needs to be addressed with students especially when popular networking sites like Facebook change their default settings to openly share all information, as they did in December, making it even harder for people to protect their privacy. Only 35% of the population went out of their way to change their settings, meaning 65% made their material public, probably without even realizing it (Boyd, 2010). I would wager that many of my students are unaware that once information we post about ourselves is part of a public domain, it can be viewed by virtually anyone, and can be shared widely and without our being totally aware of who has access to it and can also be retrieved even after it’s been modified or removed (Stoddart, 2007).

“In many ways our privacy is diminishing, but many people’s relative lack of concern for it may have more to do with a lack of experience in life than a real change in values” (Litwin, 2006). Danah Boyd also supports this notion saying “there is a large myth out there that young people don't care about privacy, and I think that that really needs to be dispelled” (2010). Young people DO care about privacy, but they need more knowledge and education about how social networking sites collect their personal data and use it as a valuable commodity (Stoddart, 2007). “Today’s social sites are a goldmine of information for marketing companies, or political interest groups, and potential employers” and everything that you enter about yourself forms the basis for how people view your “employability, your work ethic, and your other preferences, all without your knowledge or consent, or without even being asked” (Stoddart, 2007). An education based approach is needed to discuss this very important issue, and show students how to set and maintain their privacy settings on the sites they use. It is also critical to encourage them to “think ahead to gauge the consequences of the data they are leaving behind” or the digital footprint that is being formed and teach them how to get unwanted information removed from search engines (Palfrey & Gasser, 2008, p. 53). It is also important that parents and teachers model smart behaviour in their own online contexts and share these with the young adults in their lives.

Here are some very helpful videos that you could use in the classroom to help achieve this:

How to set privacy settings:

I , for one, have happily traded some of my own personal privacy to live and teach in small community that enriches my life with a variety of diversified and rich relationships. I suspect that my students also feel the same way about their online relationships, and hopefully they can be taught to maintain their personal identities with integrity, privacy and safety both in the physical and digital world.


Boyd, Danah. (February 24, 2010). Millennials, media and information. Pew Research Center Publications. Retrieved from:

Johnson, Doug. (June/July 2008). Lighting Lamps. Learning and Leading with Technology. Retrieved from:

Litwin, Rory. (May 22, 2006). The central problem of library 2.0: Privacy. Library juice blog. Retrieved from:

Palfrey, John., & Gasser, Urs. (2008) Born digital: understanding the first generation of digital natives. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Stoddart, Jennifer. (November 7, 2007) “Privacy and Social Networks”. Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Retrieved from:

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Motivation for change

I just got back to Vancouver in time to enjoy the last few days of the Olympics. As I wandered around Robson street I couldn’t help but enjoy the warmth of the sun and the beauty of the cherry blossoms on the trees downtown. Spring has definitely arrived early this year. Despite the warm weather conditions and lack of fresh snow, the winter Olympics have managed to carry on successfully. As the old adage goes “Where there is a will…there is a way”. I saw this first hand at the end of January, when Cypress mountain closed to the public and began building the course for the moguls event and snowboard cross course using straw bales and transporting in snow via helicopters from neighbouring mountain tops. The time, expense and commitment to alter mother natures’ own plan has been phenomenal. The International Organizing Committee (IOC) for the Vancouver Olympics has shown us first hand what great things can be achieved when government, organizers, volunteers, trainers and athletes are all determined and motivated to achieve a common goal. I spent a great deal of time last night (while watching the women’s curling final) musing over what changes would have to take place in our education system to get administrators, teachers, librarians, parents and students all motivated to work toward the common goal of integrating technology into our schools effectively.

The digital divide that currently exists in our education system is not only about those with limited access to computers and information and communication technologies (ICT) but is about the unequal acquisition of related skills to use that technology effectively (Wikipedia). It is a complex issue that has many structural, cultural and social influences that impact it, including: income, education, geography, gender, age, disability and aboriginal status (Looker & Thiessen, 2003). The unfortunate nature of these influences is that “many of these divisions overlap, so that some groups are doubly or triply disadvantaged” (Looker & Thiessen, 2003). According to the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) blog post entitled “Web 2.0 in Schools: Our Digital Divides are Showing”, the contributing factors to the digital divide in schools can be amalgamated into four broader categories: access, skill, policy and motivation.

Quite simply, without access to computers, adequate software and ample Internet connections, our students will be unable to participate fully as digital citizens. However, as funding to public education continues to be cut, “administrators report that they are increasingly unable to meet the budget strain to maintain adequate computer facilities” and upgrade hardware (Couture, as cited in Looker & Thiessen, 2003). We need continued government and administrative financial support to make information technology purchases and upgrades a priority in schools.

Secondly, “providing schools with technology is not sufficient to close the digital divide. Teachers must receive the appropriate training in order to use technology effectively and to increase student learning (Wikipedia). Teachers need adequate time and training to acquire pedagogies for teaching information literacy skills such as locating and evaluating digital information and using collaborative Web 2.0 tools effectively. Without proper skills, intellectual access to information will continue to widen the digital divide between students.

A third inequality exists in the policies that schools adopt with respect to restricting and filtering websites that block access to Web 2.0 tools. Although I believe that all policy makers have the same intent to protect our children in the online environment, there needs to be equality in filtering policies so that all students have the ability to access Google Docs and other programs that can be effective collaborative learning tools (Nelson, 2009).

Perhaps the largest factor that is interconnected with access, skills and policy is motivation. As my colleague Mark mentioned during our class discussion this week motivation “fundamentally influences all of the others” (Harewood, 2010). Motivation and perceived needs is what determines which restrictions policy makers put on students’ access to particular websites. It also drives government and administrative mandates for funding and providing technological equipment needed to schools. Motivation also plays an integral role in a teacher’s own professional development to gain the skills and pedagogy to effectively teach their students the skills they need. The motivation of parents also directly impacts whether their children have computer access at home. Finally, a student’s motivation will greatly determine whether they embrace information and communication technology and demonstrate responsible digital citizenship. Without motivation from all stakeholders, none of the other barriers that contribute to the digital divide can be overcome.

How I can motivate my administration, my colleagues and my students to recognize the importance of information technology and adopt its use so that it becomes infused in the curriculum is perhaps the biggest challenge I have as a librarian. Starting the discussion on the contributing factors to the digital divide is only the necessary first step. Some of the suggestions made by Jan Gahala in her article “Promoting Technology Use in Schools” that I would like to try are:
1. Request time from administrators for teachers to partake in ongoing professional development. This could take the form of paid release time for independent practice or classroom-embedded mentoring.
2. Advocate for adequate tech support.
3. Recognize teacher successes with technology and share these stories with all staff members during meetings.
4. At faculty meetings, share ideas for using technology within different content areas.
5. Continue to design collaborative projects for students with authentic uses of technology for real-world application in the classroom.

When people are motivated they have the ability to overcome tremendous obstacles and achieve great things. Nothing could illustrate that better than Olympic athletes like Brian McKeever, Petra Majdic or Joannie Rochette. Despite the difficulties and problems they have endured and have persevered to not only become successful, but inspirational. They have shown us all that the seemingly impossible is yet possible. I still believe that this can hold true for narrowing the digital divide that exists in our schools today.

American Association of School Librarians. (October 30, 2008). Web 2.0 in Schools: Our Digital Divides are Showing. Retrieved from:

Gahala, Jan. (October 2001.) Critical Issue: Promoting Technology Use in Schools. North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. Retrieved from:

Harewood, Mark. (February 21, 2010). Information Tech for Learning: Digital Divide Discussion Question One [Msg 24]. Message Posted to:

Looker, Diane. Thiessen, Victor. (June 2003). The Digital Divide in Canadian Schools: Factors affecting student access to and use of information technology. Research Data Centres Program.

Nelson, Cathy. (December 30, 2009). Educational Inequality: more than just race or funding. TechnoTuesday blog. Retrieved from:

Wikipedia (n.d) Digital Divide. Retrieved from:

Image Credit
Olympic Rings Retrieved from:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Filters: A Matter of Trust

As I get older I start to appreciate my mom a whole lot more and wonder if I would ever have the same strength to accomplish what she did. My father died when my twin sister and I were only 3 years old, leaving her to raise 3 children on her own in a very isolated country cabin. I sent my mom a Valentine’s Day card this year to let her know I love her but I also felt compelled to express how thankful I was for her constant love, support and trust. Instead of clinging to us, as some mothers might when faced with such a dear loss, she raised us to be inquisitive and adventuresome. She allowed us the freedom to explore (“I’ll send you a postcard from every country I visit!”) and trusted us to set our own boundaries (“I’ll be home by midnight”), and learn from our own mistakes (“oops…I won’t do THAT again!”), knowing that we could come to her for help or assistance if needed (“mom, we dared Jen to lick the mailbox and now she can’t get her tongue off”).Her implicit trust allowed for reciprocal honesty and a lack of fear that there would ever be unwarranted repercussions for mistakes and accidents, as long as we acted responsibly. She managed to find that delicate balance between protection and trust in our abilities. This is something that I think all parents juggle with. As a teacher, I also feel that most educators feel the need to create a safe, learning environment and protect our students’ safety. But I often wonder if we aren’t being too overprotective and create an atmosphere that limits creativity and inquiry, and impinges on intellectual freedom, especially when it comes to online, internet filters.

Almost all schools across Canada and the US have some form of content-filtering system in place. “In many cases, schools have cranked up their filters so high that students searching for an innocuous but easily misunderstood term can’t get anywhere” (Villano). This can be extremely frustrating for both students and teachers. For students, my concern goes beyond being blocked to valid information during research projects on topics like the Canadian beaver or breast cancer. When students are blocked by sites that they regularly access outside of school, it starts to create a “digital disconnect” and further supports the sentiment that “real-learning takes place at home” (Bell). It also sends the clear message to students that we don’t trust them to make the right decisions or stay safe online.

Many teachers are also frustrated by filtering. Again, my concern here goes past the obvious point that blocking sites is infringing on intellectual freedom. I am more concerned about the message that is being sent to educators that tech personnel (who haven’t necessarily studied education) have more right to judge which interactive sites are educational or not. To many teachers, it becomes a question of professional respect that they are not trusted to judge and make choices about the sites they’d like to access in their classrooms. Of course teachers can request to have sites unblocked. However, from my discussions with other colleagues, this can often be an onerous and time-consuming task, that requires administration to step in on our behalves. The end result, as pointed out by Cathy Nelson is complacency by many educators to accept the status quo, even if they don’t agree with the decisions being made.

I support Villano’s opinion that “filters are well-intentioned, but inadequate”. The fact is, many teens can still get around a standard filter and “surmount the protective wall constructed by school staff to keep them safe” buy using anonymous proxies (Losinski). This information is readily shared on Facebook sites that are devoted to sharing strategies for getting around school filters (Warlick). Not only does this waste valuable instructional time, but is a constant source of frustration for tech personnel. It also erodes the trust between teachers, students and administration. Again, I have to agree with Villano that this is not a dispute about whether or not we need to protect kids, but “whether or not mandated internet filters are the best way to achieve those safeguards” (Villano).

The best long term solution that I have seen proposed is “shifting the emphasis from policing the way students use the internet to educating them about using it more safely” (Villano). How will this impact my teaching in the short term? I will continue to teach my students some of the topics suggested by David Warlick including: digital citizenship, how to safeguard personal information, reporting and ignoring advances from strangers, how to handle cyber-bullying, and being courteous in online communication. I will also follow Buffy Hamilton’s advice and continue to educate my administration and tech personnel about the sites I want unblocked and show how they will improve student engagement and achievement. Most importantly, I need to remind my administration that students need guided instruction and opportunities to learn how to use social media thoughtfully and wisely (Hamilton). We need to give our students as many opportunities as possible to think for themselves, apply what they know and develop good judgment.

My mom is not only one of the greatest people I know, she was also a fantastic teacher for over 30 years. In my own classroom I often think about what makes for a successful student. The answer is often comprised of what my mother gave to me and my sisters – honesty, open dialogue, freedom to explore and many opportunities to build trust by allowing us to think for ourselves and show good judgment. I think we should be enabling our students to do the same.


Bell, Mary Ann. (Sept/Oct. 2008). I’m Mad and I’m Not Gonna Take it Anymore! Multimedia & Internet@Schools. p. 37-39.

Hamilton, Buffy. (December 10, 2009). Fighting the Filter. The Unquiet Librarian Blog. Retrieved from:

Losinski, Robert. (March 2007). Patrolling Web 2.0. T.H.E Journal. 34 (3), p. 50.

Nelson, Cathy. (October 17, 2009). Filters? A Problem of Complacency? Techno Tuesday Blog. Retrieved from:

Villano, Matt. (May 2008). What Are We Protecting Them From? T.H.E. Journal. 35 (5), p. 48.

Warlick, David. (July 11, 2009). Filters Work. 2Cents Worth Blog. Retrieved from:

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Teaching "Digital Natives"

There is no question that students today are different than they were 10 years ago. As any classroom teacher can attest, it is rare to find paper notes on the floor of the classroom at the end of the day. Instead, it has become commonplace to witness students text-messaging the person sitting next to them, their friend in the class down the hall or perhaps the boyfriend in the other high school across town. Prensky has termed these learners “Digital Natives” in reference to the fact that they are the first generation born and raised in a completely digital world. Many of my students have never seen a rotary dial phone and give me absolutely horrified looks when I tell them I grew up with a black and white TV without cable or a remote. To them, the concept of life without the internet is alien. In turn, they share many characteristics that also seem foreign to me. They spend more than double the time with technology than they do reading books, and are more comfortable sending texts or instant messages than emailing or calling on the phone (Palfrey & Gasser). They routinely multi-task, are constantly connected and have many real and virtual friends- some of whom they've never met in person (Palfrey & Gasser).
But I often wonder - are these ‘Digital Natives’ that fundamentally different from me, and do they actually learn differently than I did when I was their age? If so, what are the best ways to engage and teach ‘Digital Natives’? What are some of the barriers that teachers are facing when teaching their students today, and how do we overcome them?

In Danah Boyd’s presentation on “Teenagers who are living and learning with Social Media”, she states that teens have the same basic interests as previous generations. Hanging out with friends, flirting, gossiping and joking around are the underlying dynamics of teen culture and this has not changed from generation to generation. What has changed is the advent of new technologies that change the methods and visibility of their socializing. Teens would still prefer to hand out with their friends in person, but if their class schedules don’t match or they lack mobility, it has become advantageous to meet and chat online instead (Boyd). Naturally, the online socializing that students do outside the classroom has implications on the social environment in the school. But does their use of technology actually change the way that these students learn?

Some, like Prensky would suggest that “today’s students have not changed incrementally, [but] a big discontinuity has taken place”. So much so, that their brains’ thinking patterns have actually changed. Whether or not digital learning has actually changed the brains’ processes has yet to be established. However, there are many psychologists, neuroscientists and educational theorists trying to determine how learning in a digital environment compares to ‘traditional’ learning and whether Digital Natives absorb and retain information the same way (Palfrey & Gasser). Even if we are unable to ascertain if the brain itself is changing in the digital world, we need to accept that the mode of socializing and learning is changing. “In order for schools to adapt to the habits of Digital Natives and how they are processing information, educators need to accept that the mode of learning is changing rapidly in a digital age. Before answering the questions about how precisely to use technology in schools, we must understand these changes." (Palfrey & Gasser). Once this is better understood, we can overcome the first barrier to teaching Digital Natives and it will become easier to adapt educational pedagogies.

The second barrier to teaching Digital Natives exists in the digital divide that is forming, not only in availability of funding for new technologies in schools, but also in providing the necessary tech literacy skills. Funding to provide new technology to schools varies so widely between the provinces and the disparity between schools even within the same district can also be surprisingly different. Secondly, very little professional development has taken place for teachers to become comfortable with new technologies. Many administrators are installing smart boards and projectors in classrooms without giving the teachers any support in how to actually use them effectively in their teaching. As a result, many teachers find them to be 'gadgets' instead of tools that can actually help them and their students. This is resulting in a second type of digital divide that is forming between students who have been taught critical thinking skills and information literacy and those who have not. We cannot assume that all Digital Natives are tech-savvy just because they have access to technology and grew up with exposure to it. This barrier can only be resolved with adequate funding and adequate professional development for teachers in all schools, in all provinces.

A third barrier that exists in teaching Digital Natives is labeling them as such. On one hand, “labels in education may facilitate understanding in generalized conversations providing all participants understand the terms” (Harewood). In labeling this group as ‘Digital Natives' it forces current educators to examine the way in which they communicate and learn. By labeling a group as ‘Digital’, it could serve as a blatant and useful reminder to teachers that we are indeed dealing with a different ‘model’ of student and that as a result, teaching methods need to evolve as well. On the other hand, I feel that this label is more harmful than beneficial. The pitfall of labeling any group is the assumptions that ALL students this age become plagued with. One of the myths identified in Christine Greenhow's article "Who Are Today's Learners?” was that every digital native student is extremely techno-savvy. It has been shown that this assumption is not necessarily true. Danah Boyd agrees, saying that by labeling our students as ‘Digital Natives’ “we project a lot of assumptions onto them that they must be experts because they’re using technology all the time”. As educators, we can’t assume that they are inherently better with technology, just because they’ve been exposed to it all their lives. As adults and educators, we simply have far more information, experience and sociality behind us than our students, and we also “have a critical thinking around technology that [our students] don’t necessarily have” (Boyd). Our role as educators is to help empower our students “to do what they’re already doing and make sense of it in a broader world” (Boyd). If we continue to label our students as ‘Digital Natives’ and ourselves as “Digital Immigrants, we overemphasize the differences between groups, and in the process exaggerate the divides that exist between us. “The more that we assume it’s ‘us’ and ‘them’, ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital immigrants’, the more we create these generational divides that cost us every day.” (Boyd.)

So what can we do to overcome these barriers and teach our students better? First and foremost, we need to forget any assumptions that we may have about our students’ being tech-savvy just because they’ve grown up surrounded by technology and the internet. Second, we should be providing the scaffolding to help young people develop critical thinking and information literacy skills with technology (Boyd). Finally, as commented on NetFamilyNews Blog we should also recognize that “it’s new technology but the same old concepts of ethics and responsibility” apply (Collier). We need to teach our students safe online behaviour and emphasis the importance of creating an online identity that reflects who they truly are and leave positive digital footprints (Palfrey & Gasser).


Boyd, Danah. (May 12, 2009).Living and Learning with Social Media. YouTube. Retrieved from:

Collier, Anne. (December 3, 2009). Not Just Digital Natives & Immigrants! Retrieved from:

Greenhow, Christine. (September/October 2008). Who Are Today’s Learners? Learning & Leading with Technology. 36 (4), 10-11.

Harewood, Mark. (February 1, 2010). Information Tech for Learning: Digital Natives Discussion Question One [Msg 2]. Message Posted to:

Palfrey, John. Gasser, Urs. (2008). Digital Natives. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Prensky, Marc. (October 2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon. 9 (5), 1-6.

Image Credit:
Fetus talking on cell phone. Retrieved from:

Sunday, January 31, 2010

No 'Standard' Definition of "Standards"?

There is no ‘standard’ definition of “standards”. How ironic is that? In fact, according to, there are 22 definitions of what ‘standard’ means ranging from “a grade of beef immediately below good” to “ a long candlestick used in church” to “a flag indicating the presence of a sovereign or public official” to “a distinct petal on certain flowers that is longer than the rest”. Imagine how confused or frustrated a person would be if one goes into a store to buy a spiritual candle and ends up with beef. Now, I’m being a bit silly here, because most logical people would assume that it means one of the top definitions listed, being either “something considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis of comparison” or “a rule or principle that is used as a basis for judgment”. However, I can forever hear my mother’s voice in the back of my mind saying “to assume something makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’”. The simple fact is that when it comes to school standards and expectations of what our student should know and be able to do upon graduation, we can’t assume that they’ve learned what we well-intentioned teachers have set out to teach them. We have to be able to assess, and evaluate, fairly and comprehensively whether or not they have the skills, ability and know-how to be successful in the 21st century. To do that effectively we need national, provincial or district wide standards that outline the skills, resources, tools and support that students, teachers and administration need to effectively integrate technology into the curriculum, as well as measurable performance indicators for all stakeholders.

Many school districts across Canada now expect that technology and information literacy will be included in all aspects of curricula and it is often included as part of the learning outcomes. However, there are very few explicit instructions in terms of instructional time or assessment for them in most school districts in Canada. It is being assumed that they are ‘embedded’ as part of existing practice, when that is not necessarily the case. “This type of assumption is akin to one in which classroom teachers and school administrators assume that we are preparing students to be successful in a 21st century world because we are already living in it" (Zmuda & Harada, 2008, p. 84). There has been more of a focus on purchasing equipment and knowing how to use the new technology than on the integration of those technologies in classroom instruction for differentiated learning. As a colleague of mine reflected this week, “students need librarians who are information specialists to support them as they become self directed learners”(MacIsaac, 2010). I found this to be another poignant reminder that it's not enough to simply keep buying new resources and technology, but taking the time to train teachers and librarians on the best ways to integrate and use them to their fullest potential.

The second assumption that I want to refute loudly is that: standards = standardized testing. Standards and standardized tests simply ARE not and I sincerely hope (here in Canada) they DO not become synonymous. I truly believe that standards can be extremely positive because without a "clarity of focus, school leaders will continue to lament the lack of collaboration among staff, the minimal effectiveness of staff-development resources, and the impotency of school improvement efforts" (Zmuda & Harada, 2008 p. 4). However, "while there has been a significant push in the past decade toward a guaranteed and viable curriculum that is standards-based and measured by performance tasks, many students still experience coverage-driven, time-compressed units measured by short answer, multiple choice, and recall-based prompts that are taught via lectures and disconnected activities. Students deserve learning experiences that are rigorous and relevant" (Zmuda & Harada, 2008, p. 4).

What we need to provide for our students today, are authentic inquiry based tasks that are meaningful and relevant to real-life situations. The technology and Web 2.0 tools that we introduce and use with our students should develop the skills that all students should have to be successful in the 21st century. According to the American Association of School Librarians (AASL, 2007) all students should be able to:
1. Inquire, think critically and gain knowledge
2. Draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge and create new knowledge
3. Share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of society
4. Pursue personal growth

“School libraries are essential to the development of [these] learning skills” and it’s important that every school can provide equitable physical and intellectual access to the resources and tools required for learning (AASL, 2007). Until our administrators, governments and communities recognize the important role of technology and expertise that teacher-librarians offer, and invest in technology and programs that will improve teaching and learning opportunities with technology, it is unlikely that students will be given the best possible chances to learn the skills that are so essential for being successful in the 21st century. It is one thing to invest in the necessary equipment and quite another to learn how to use them to their full potential.

How will this impact my teaching in the library? I will be using the book Achieving Information Literacy: Standards for School Library Programs in Canada, along with the ISTE’s National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) and the AASL’s Standards for the 21st Century Learner to guide my use of technology. I will also be revising our library handbook’s scope and sequence for all grades to incorporate the technology skills that are outlined in our province’s curriculum guidelines for each subject and strive to create meaningful inquiry projects that utilize a variety of Web 2.0 tools to enhance their learning experiences.


American Association of School Librarians. (2007). Standards for the 21st Century Learner. Retrieved from:

Asselin, Marlene. Branch, Jennifer. Oberg, Dianne. (2003) Achieving Information Literacy: Standards for School Library Programs in Canada. The Canadian School Library Association and the Association for Teacher-Librarianship in Canada. Ottawa.

MacIsaac, Dawn. (January 25, 2010). Information Tech for Learning: Standards Discussion Question Two [Msg 2]. Message Posted to:

Zmuda, A., & Harada, V. H. (2008). Librarians as learning specialists: Meeting the learning imperative for the 21st century. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Image credits
Beef Image. Retrieved from:

Standardized test results cartoon. Retrieved from:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Learning in the 21st Century: Flinstones or Jetsons?

If anyone had told me 20 years ago, that I would be sitting on a plane one day with my laptop computer and conversing with my friends on a video call or socializing on a networking site called Facebook while 30, 000 feet in the air, I would have scoffed and told them to keep watching “the Jetsons”. I never would have believed that I would actually find myself here, in seat 10A on an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Seattle participating in online discussions with my classmates from across Canada on the University of Alberta’s eclass system. It is mind boggling to see the technological changes that have take place in my life over the last few years. The advent of digital cameras, cell phones, and laptops with multifunctional capacities to video conference and surf the web are just to name a few. My students think I’m from the Stone Age when I tell them that I grew up with a black and white TV (with no remote) and I get only blank stares when I mention the words “rotary dial phone”. These are truly digital natives I think to myself. It is indisputable that technology has emerged, become omnipresent and is creating a new environment, not only for ourselves, but for our children and students as well.

In the new Kaiser Foundation report, daily media use among teenagers is up dramatically from only 5 years ago. It has been calculated that they now spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day using media – more if you take into consideration that most of that time is spent multi-tasking and using more than one device at a time (Richardson). As Will Richardson said in his Blog a few days ago “Anyway you slice [it], kids are immersed in media, and that immersion is having a huge effect on the way they see the world and the way they learn”.

Sadly, the learning that I experienced as a student myself in classroom settings was not always relevant, timely, or applicable to real-life. Prior to starting my masters and taking courses online, it was always text book-based and I was often bored; as I’m sure many students still are today. The times in my life that I felt I was learning- deeply and completely, have involved real-life problem solving situations or being put in a position where my life or health was at stake. The scenarios differ widely from performing a killer whale necropsy to discover why the animal died to taking safety courses in sailing, scuba diving, avalanche awareness or rock-climbing. The common thread however is that these lessons involved hands-on, personal inquiry questions that were engaging and applicable to real life situations and the learning that occurred was much more profound as a result. So how do we create these “just-in-time”, “just-for-me” learning situations that Joyce Valenza refers to? And what are the skills, knowledge and expertise that our students will need to be successful in the 21st century?

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has been a leading advocacy organization for infusing 21st century skills into education and is comprised of educators, community groups and business leaders. They promote the following skills, knowledge and expertise as being necessary for students to succeed in work and life (Johnson):

1.Core subjects and 21st century themes such as: language arts, mathematics,
science, global awareness and financial literacy
2.Learning and innovation skills such as: creativity and critical thinking and problem solving
3.Information, media and technology skills
4.Life and career skills such as initiative and self-direction.

Based on this, I can envision a school that would involve other learners that had similar interests and learning objectives from other schools and countries. It would certainly involve the sharing of background knowledge from multicultural perspectives and the sharing and synthesis of new ideas and the celebration of new discoveries. It would be presented in a collaborative fashion for anyone and everyone who was interested to appreciate or critique. The resources and technological tools that the learners would use would be those that would aid in their communication, collaboration and networking. It would involve changing our current way of thinking and teaching to create a community system instead of a classroom system.

“It’s hard to think of a century in which it wasn’t important to think critically as well as be analytical, creative and collaborative. Imagine a prehistoric group on a hunt for food that did not employ this kind of approach. You’d have to imagine it, because society would not last” (Manthey).

As educators, it is paramount that we find ways to infuse these skills into all aspects of the curriculum and combine them with the available and engaging Web 2.0 tools. By “integrating 21st century skills deliberately and systematically into the teaching of core subjects appears to empower educators to make learning relevant and to help students be successful” (Trilling, as cited in Weis). In doing so, we have the opportunity to make the giant leap from the Flintstones to the Jetsons. As Will Richardson says “We may not feel comfortable in a world filled with technology. But our kids don’t have a choice. And if we’re going to fulfill our roles as teachers in our kids lives, neither do we.”

What kind of educator would you rather be? Fred and Wilma Flintstone or George and Jane Jetson?


Johnson, Paige (September 2009). The 21st Century Skills Movement. Educational Leadership. Retrieved from:

Manthey, George. (November/December 2009). The Knowledge vs. Skills Debate: A False Dichotomy? Leadership. Retrieved from:;col1

Richardson, Will. (January 21, 2009). No Choice. Weblogg-ed. Retrieved from:

Valenza, Joyce. (2010). You Know You’re a 21st Century Librarian If…Wiki. Retrieved from:

Weis, Charles. (November/December 2009). Innovative Paths to Improve Learning. Leadership. Retrieved from:

Image Credits.
Jane Jetson Making a Video Call Image. Retrieved from:

Flintstones and Jetsons Image. Retrieved from:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A New Digital Divide

For the last 10 days I have been on a rock climbing trip in North Central Mexico. El Potrero Chico is a series of Limestone Mountains that grace the relatively small town of Hidalgo. It is not a tourist destination but a typical town and the only businesses are a cement factory located prominently in the town centre and the various campgrounds and small restaurants that cater to climbers a few kilometers outside town limits. It seems as though the internet access here is as reliable as hot water…intermittent at best. I can usually pick up a wireless connection at our campground when the weather is good. However, it has been rather cold and rainy the past few days and I had to venture into town to find something more reliable. I spent part of yesterday working at the sole internet “cafĂ©” (and I use that term very loosely). It is an unmarked, unpainted cement building that has 10 computer terminals for a town of 30,000 people. (Only 6 of the terminals actually worked.) Fortunately for me, the Policia picked me up as I was hitch-hiking into town and delivered me to the front steps otherwise it is unlikely that I would have found it. As the afternoon school session let out around 5:30pm a few high school students dressed in their red uniforms arrived to work on their homework. Six students shared the only 3 open computers and were working diligently as I left for dinner. Never before have I been so cognizant of the economic and technological divide between Canada and Mexico. The disparity between our countries still boggles my mind in this day and age. At home, I get frustrated by only having one smart board in my entire school, when the reality for most Mexican students is having no computers or internet access until they reach high school. It made me think of some of the articles I read this week, particularly one entitled “Things that Keep us Up at Night” by Joyce Valenza and Doug Johnson.

In this article, Valenza and Johnson state,
“We have no textbook for what 21st century school library practice looks like”. So how do we ensure that all learners have access to new tools and resources? Not only that, but how do we ensure that all learners are taught the necessary skills to navigate this world? This may present a “new digital divide” that is no longer about access to computers but is about whether students “can appreciate, understand, and create quality information”.

In Canada, most students are fortunate enough to have easy access to computers and the internet. I am becoming increasingly concerned however, that they are not receiving proper instruction on how to navigate the Web 2.0 world and building the proper communication skills that they will need to work and be successful in the 21st century. Many of the other articles I’ve read lately show that despite their avid use of computers and technology many students are not as proficient as was previously thought with these ‘new literacy’ skills such as using search engines effectively, reading websites, selecting hyperlinks and comparing information across sources (Asselin & Doiron, Todd). For me, a shift is occurring from advocating for more and better resources to promoting their use more effectively. “It’s not about learning to use the software, it’s about the skills our students will carry with them that these tools and others like them allow. It’s about our students expressing themselves clearly, beautifully and skillfully” (Foote). If we can guide and teach our students to do that throughout their lives, then in my opinion, we have achieved our goal as educators.

A colleague of mine questioned me this week why I would start my Master’s in Education in Teacher-Librarianship when my position has been reduced dramatically to one hour a day and my budget has become so dismal it’s practically nonexistent. To be honest, I sometimes do get frustrated that I don’t have enough time in a day to do my job as effectively as I would like. However, I am strongly reminded this week that my school is more fortunate than others in that we have easy access to computers and a welcoming, warm environment that is rich in print and digital resources, with a caring Library Assistant and part-time Librarian. Not all schools in Canada are that fortunate and certainly not in Mexico or other parts of the World. I am also privileged to work with an encouraging, supportive and collaborative staff that consistently model life-long learning and strive to inspire their students. I am grateful for what I have, but I believe it has become an integral part of our jobs as Teacher-Librarians to promote what we have to offer and strive to continually improve our practice and make our current education system better to meet the changing needs of our students. It is becoming clearer that "today’s students are no longer the people our education system was designed to teach." (Prensky, 2001 as cited in Asselin & Doiron). And it is a call to action that Teacher –Librarians should take a leadership role in advocating for and promoting changes in our own practice that respond to particular needs within our own schools.

For me, that means concentrating on closing this new “digital divide” that is forming. What does it mean for you?

Asselin, Marlene. Doiron, Ray. (July, 2008). Towards a Transformative Pedagogy for School Libraries 2.0.e School Libraries Worldwide. Vol 14. Iss 2. Retrieved from

Foote, Carolyn. (November 30, 2009). What are We Really Fighting For? Not So Distant Future blog. Retrieved from:

Todd, Ross J. (July, 2008). Youth and their Virtual Networked Words: Research Findings and Implications for School Libraries. School Libraries Worldwide. Vol 14. Iss2. Retrieved from:

Valenza, Joyce. Johnson, Doug. (October 1, 2009) Things That Keep Us Up at Night. School Library Journal. Retrieved from: