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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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The Shift: Media Specialists and the Common Core

Josh Work

Middle School Teacher, Maryland

After participating in an exciting webinar on Libraries, Technology, and Implementing Common Core provided by AASL, I began to think about how the role of the school-based media specialist is evolving. The implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and rapid integration of technology in schools around the country has created a shift in instructional design and practice. I have found the most valuable school-based resource for brainstorming, discussing, planning and implementing anything to do with technology has been my school's media specialist. Following are a few ways that your media specialist could help you, and how the CCSS has impacted their roles.

Tech Talks

Effectively incorporating technology in the classroom can be extremely rewarding. Ineffectively done, it can be a complete disaster. When our school first went wireless, I tried to develop online resources and activities on my own. I was looking at digital learning from a traditional point of view where the teacher develops most (if not all) of the activities completed by students.

I remember going to the media center to make copies one morning, and our media specialist asked how things were going with BYOD. I began to explain some of our successes and struggles with technology. She immediately asked how she could help and was even willing to come into my class to assist with integration.

From this first conversation, we began weekly discussions that soon turned into daily talks about technology. We are both passionate about technology in education, and our 10-20 minute conversations became frequent after-school meetings with various content teachers. We would spend the majority of our time brainstorming ways to integrate technology throughout the school to effectively enhance learning of the Common Core.

Media Specialist = CCSS Instructional Leader

If you've read the CCSS, you know there is a major focus on developing curriculum that supports the college and career readiness of students nationwide. These standards encourage creative inquiry and deep research skills that students will need for their post-secondary education or career.

With a strong background in research methods and instructional resources, a media specialist is a great candidate to support effective CCSS integration in classrooms. The AASL states:

School librarians are uniquely positioned to influence and implement many of the school-wide goals and initiatives to ensure that all students are college and career ready, because they work across grade levels and across the disciplines.

Media specialists could essentially become the resident "go to" person for teachers with questions on blending technology and Common Core-infused lessons.

To increase communication with all stakeholders, I'd recommend using Google Drive to share ideas and build a strong digital professional learning community. Share your thoughts and ideas on social media to increase articulation with other educational leaders.

Moving Forward

I've always seen the media specialists as the Swiss army knife of any school. I remember my elementary school media specialist helping me check out my first book and also introducing me to the original Oregon Trail game on a vintage Apple desktop. (I always tried to ford the river even though she told me to just pay the ferry. I still have nightmares.) Media specialists are an amazing building-level resource for anyone that takes the time to collaborate with them. Talk with your media specialist:

  • If you are struggling with ways to encourage effective and efficient research methods.
  • If you are curious about how to incorporate technology appropriately.
  • If you are just looking to spark up a great conversation about digital learning.

As technology becomes more integrated into the learning environment, I believe we will see a shift in the role of our school-based media specialists. Maybe you've already experienced this shift and would be willing to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Teri's picture

As a media specialist, I really appreciate that you want to include us in your planning. I fight to find ways to get included - would that you worked in my school!

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