This weekend I received in the mail my new issue of School Library Monthly (Vol. 29, Nov. 2012), and I opened it right up to Kathy Fredrick’s “Choosing the Right App.” I had the pleasure of sitting next to Kathy, who is Director of Libraries and Instructional Technology for Shaker Heights City Schools in Ohio, at the AASL Fall Forum satellite site in Pittsburgh. I’ve shared several of her SLM Library 2.0+ columns with students in my curriculum course this fall, including last month’s “Online Election Resources for Students and Colleagues.”
This column caught my eye because just last week, pre-service school librarians in the same course (Curriculum & the School Library Teacher) shared in class tablet apps that they evaluated for alignment to state curriculum frameworks and Common Core State Standards, as well as for features, functionality, and learning opportunities. As the students shared apps that included Shakespeare in Bits, 270 to Win, iPoe, and 3D Cell Stain and Simulation, we checked them against Pam Berger’s “Inquiry and Web 2.0 Tools Integration Guide” from a 2010 SLM article (cited below) for the phases of Stripling’s Inquiry Model afforded by the apps. For example, Solar Walk might support the Connect and Wonder phases (setting background context for new learning and developing questions), while Visual Poet allows students to Express (express new ideas to share learning with others).
The chance to demonstrate and discuss the apps as a group proved fruitful (pun intended!) but at the core (yes, again), our goal extended beyond the curricular alignment piece and into the realm of equipping school librarians to propose and participate in curricular collaborations with teachers. More than one app provoked comments like, “my teachers will love this” – and in Kathy’s article, she mentions the potential for teachers to become overwhelmed with options that technology avails. As I have written about in this space before, school library advocacy isn’t about librarians saying how great we are; it’s about giving others a reason to say this. Providing teachers ideas for relevant, quality curriculum resources and ways for students to engage with them sounds like the seeds of advocacy to me. And that’s really a-peeling. (Last one – ok, two. I’ll stop falling over the apple puns now.)
Berger, Pam. Student Inquiry and Web 2.0. School Library Monthly 26, no. 5 (January 2010): 14-17.
Fredrick, Kathy. Choosing the Just-Right App. School Library Monthly 29, no. 2 (November 2012): 24-25.