Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Librarians and Data

For the past year or so, I've been involved in a project that seeks to develop and sustain collaborative relationships between teachers and librarians. While this may seem like a "duh" to some of us, consider the fact that many schools don't have a flexible schedule in their libraries. For instance, in my school district, the elementary libraries are part of the rotating schedule of special classes (art, music, pe, library/computer lab). In other words, they're teaching the kids when the teachers are having their planning time. And, in addition to that, for many years our libraries and labs were so small that the class had to be split for that special area meaning that, with a 4 day rotation, kids were in either the library or the computer lab only once every 8 days...not very conducive to continuing instruction.

Because of this arrangement, many librarians had never seen the data that comes to us from the state in regards to our state assessments. In fact, many had never seen even a copy of the assessment that's been given to our kids in 4th grade every year since 1999 nor the state standards for English Language Arts. In other words, no connection to the instructional needs of the students.

Now, with a few online databases, we're able to see how each building performs in relation to other buildings, to the district and to the region. One of the librarians who works with 8th grades was able to help the English teachers see that one of the areas of weakness could be traced back to when certain skills were being taught during the year. As we've studied this data together, the librarians have come to see the role that they can play in helping to develop some of the skills so that they approach teachers from the aspect of working together to improve student achievement. The original intent of my participation as an instructional technology specialist was in regards to the data - to learn more about our data sources and to assist our librarians in using the data. Because I'm involved in so many aspects of the curriculum with technology, it has also been to my benefit to better understand the world of school librarians and make connections between them and teachers. It's all been very interesting and every time we meet there are some new "aha" moments for all of us through our conversation and our sharing.

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