1.4: Integration of 21st Century Skills & Learning Standards
Candidates demonstrate how to collaborate with other teachers to plan and implement instruction for the AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner and state student curriculum standards.
When I first began planning school library lessons and units, I found the AASL standards intimidating. Learning a new set of standards can be an overwhelming and stressful process, especially since, in the collaborative process, a school librarian must concern herself with not only the AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner but also the state standards for the both the school library and the various subject-areas.
I wondered how all of these standards could ever be achieved – especially in a high school library where the students are often not seen regularly and consistently by the school library. To be honest, I myself did not realize that a library curriculum exists at the high school level. I was surprised to find how easy it was to incorporate multiple skills and standards into one lesson. In fact, I would set out to design a unit or lesson around certain specific standards and find that I was simultaneously hitting on many more. This ease of multiple skill alignment becomes a necessary feat of school librarianship -- to pack as many skills into a high school lesson as possible – because you need to take the fullest advantage possible of whatever time you have with them. My unit plan for a research project on Global Women’s Issues demonstrates my ability to “collaborate with other teachers to plan and implement instruction for the AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner and state curriculum standards.”
As I worked with a colleague in the social studies department to design this unit as a requirement of my Instructional Collaboration course, I found that the proportion of space devoted to the lists of standards versus the actual unit and lesson plan content on Global Women’s Issues was almost laughable. There are over two full pages of listed standards that our unit fulfills, whereas, the project description, division of labor, materials list, assessment techniques, and daily learning activities collectively take up only about two pages. The unit aligns with three of the four overarching AASL Standards, addressing a total of thirty-one specific indicators. The local standards section displays the state school library standards with which the unit aligns.
Knowing from the beginning of our collaborative efforts that we would be planning for a research project, I expected to shape our unit in such a way that it would align with AASL’s Standard 1.1.1: Follow an inquiry-based process in seeking knowledge in curricular subjects, and make the real-world connection for using this process in own life. In order to fulfill this essential standard, we planned that I would structure the unit according to the Big 6 Research Model. We also established certain topics to be covered in the students’ podcasts with the intention that the students would shape their specific research questions based on those key elements (1.1.3 Develop and refine a range of questions to frame the search for new understanding. ). An important part of the inquiry process is questioning, and we did not want to take that away from the students by giving them set questions they had to answer. If I was able to add an additional day to the unit plan, I would revise it to include time for the students to truly develop their own research question criteria from scratch. This would be the most authentic inquiry-based learning and would more fully align with Standard 1.1.3). As we discussed in more detail what type of product my collaborative partner wanted the students to create and subsequently decided on the podcast format, it became clear that our unit would align with the multimedia portion of State SLM Standard 5.0: Share Findings/Conclusions: Students will be able to follow an inquiry process to share findings/conclusions in an appropriate format to support written, oral, and multimedia information products and evaluate the product and the process in an ethical manner. We further determined that in the assessing of the research process, we could most fully align with the second portion of this standard by incorporating a student peer-assessed gallery walk and a student process self-assessment through which the students could truly evaluate both their products and research processes for themselves.
I have already updated this plan once since taking Instructional Collaboration, as showcased by the Home Page of my Digital Learning Wiki. In terms of adjustments to the standards, the unit plan now also demonstrates the research assignment’s alignment to the NETS-S standards. If I was to revise my plan for a third time, I would need to update the curricular standards featured on the unit plan to reflect the major curriculum revisions being set in motion in accordance with our state’s ratification of the Common Core curriculum. For example, this collaborative unit corresponds with Common Core Reading/ELA Frameworks indicators such as RI10 CCR Anchor Standard: Read and comprehend complex literary and informational text independently and proficiently, SL2 CCR Anchor Standard: Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally, and SL4 CCR Anchor Standard: Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
A school librarian must be adept at planning units and lessons that align with a multitude of curricular standards including the AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner, as well as state library and subject area standards. Though familiarity with diverse educational standards is essential (and inevitably these standards will periodically change), a librarian need not be timid about plunging right in. I have learned that national and state library and content area curricular standards feature significant overlap because of their emphasis on essential core skills. Though the additional difficulty may exist for high school librarians that they do not regularly and consistently see the students, the good news is that many, many standards can be met in the context of one small library unit. These standards help us to ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn twenty-first century skills, and it is our duty to plan and implement collaborative instruction that aligns with them.