Students Creating Change through Collaboration
Nottingham School, a K-8 school located in Nottingham, NH, has approximately 500 students and a staff of more than 75 professional and support positions. In 2008, the school implemented a technology plan that placed an emphasis on integrating National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS•S) standards-based technology education into the classroom curriculum. These standards ensure that students are presented with opportunities to use technology to “develop skills that encourage productivity, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration in the classroom and in daily life” (ISTE, 2007). Library and computer curriculum is integrated into the classroom curriculum so that the standards are not taught in isolation, but as an integral part of the students’ everyday assignments.
This fall, Nottingham School’s Janice Kane, technology integration teacher, and Suzanne Tomaszewski, library media specialist, enrolled in Instructional Materials Production, a course team-taught by Elaine Allard, associate professor and Library Media Specialist program coordinator, and Jo-Ann Guilmett, Plymouth State’s Learning Commons and help desk manager. The course explores the role of instructional materials in media centers, emphasizing instructional design and production techniques using different media and equipment, including Web 2.0 tools and free resources.
“Plymouth State has access to a variety of technologies which enable us to mirror what our students experience in New Hampshire’s schools. By teaching the Instructional Materials Production course at the Lamson Library and Learning Commons, Elaine and I are able to model the points of collaboration for our students. This ensures that they return to their schools with a more holistic understanding of the relationship between the school library and technology,” commented Guilmett.
At Nottingham School, the library media center houses computers, DVD players, televisions, broadcasting equipment, digital cameras, and more than 12,000 volumes for staff and student use. The library and technology lab are adjacent to one another, making it possible for students to be involved in research on the computers and with books at the same time. Tomaszewski teaches students how to use hard copy materials so that they have a working understanding of what an authoritative source really is, as compared to online resources. Knowing that students spend much of their time on the computer, Kane spends time with students demonstrating how to determine the authenticity of an online source.
To learn more about the newest technology tools available for use with their students, Kane and Tomaszewski registered for the course together. Their joint participation offered them a unique opportunity to further build their team-teaching approach as well as support each other in their learning and implementation. “During our drive to and from Plymouth State for the weekend classes we found ourselves tossing ideas back and forth about lessons that we could collaborate on,” the pair said.
“Collaboration with other colleagues is essential to being successful,” said Allard. “I was very pleased to hear that Janice and Suzanne were taking this course together. In the Library Media Specialist program we stress the team approach, but this is the perfect example of how it should work in real life. This course has given them the opportunity to learn new technology, gain new insight from others in the class, and take this information back to their school.”
Over the past few years, Kane and Tomaszewski have observed a change in instructional materials and design, while students’ interests and direction have also changed.
“Students are becoming less and less interested and familiar with books and how to use them because they are so used to “Googling” everything. Why open a book when they can get the answer with a few key strokes on the computer? Requiring them to find information from multiple sources demonstrates the importance of something other than the computer,” they said.
Kane and Tomaszewski noted that a few years ago, students considered PowerPoint to be the “coolest” tool and loved putting their work into slide shows. With the advent of Facebook, YouTube, blogs, and podcasts a simple slideshow presentation does not have the same impact it once did.
Prior to becoming a technology integration teacher, Kane served in the United States Air Force as an avionics system specialist, repairing electronic systems on the F-15 aircraft. She later earned her MEd in Elementary Education from Lesley University and then obtained a Computer Technology Educator certification through Plymouth State.
“I worked as an inclusion teacher in Massachusetts and then moved to New Hampshire and became a paraprofessional, working half-time as a library assistant and half-time as a technology assistant. This gave me a great opportunity to experience first-hand the numerous integration opportunities available between technology and library. The combination of my diverse professional experiences has given me a unique perspective on learning, and has been the driving force behind my teaching style today” said Kane.
Tomaszewski is working toward Library Media Specialist certification through Plymouth State. She is currently entering her 18th year in education, having taught second grade for 10 years at a K-2 school in Exeter, NH, and health for grades K-8 at Nottingham School. “When the LMS position came open I knew that was the career path I wanted to take,” she said.
Through their work in the Instructional Materials Production course, Kane and Tomaszewski were able to build upon their school’s technology plan and identify steps for the future.
“Our goal for the school is to integrate current and appropriate grade-level Web 2.0 tools into the curriculum in a way that is safe and user-friendly for both staff and students. We know that this will be an ongoing process, consisting of many small steps, but we welcome the challenge,” concluded the pair.
For additional information about Plymouth State’s Library Media Specialist program, the only approved Alternative 1 program in the state of New Hampshire, contact Elaine Allard at (603) 535-2458, firstname.lastname@example.org.