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Empowering Learners – Dr. Judy Bivens teaches 21st century learning standards

Monday, June 8, 2009 at Trevecca Nazarene University Dr. Judy Bivens led a group of 35 middle school library Standards Small Podinformation specialists in a workshop on the AASL 21st century learning standards. I needed to take notes and had a computer handy so here are my notes. It shows how I’m listening and linking while I learn. Grab your books and follow along.

Standards in Action Small IconAll participants were to bring their copy of Standards for the 21st-Century Learner in Action. The district library coordinator for MNPS schools, Dr. Susan Whitworth, had made sure all 3 documents were purchased for her library information specialists and delivered these to our eagerly waiting hands. Don’t you wish you had a district coordinator? So did some of the other participants who had to buy their own copies.

First we went through Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Media ProgramsStandards Small Pod. This is the newest publication and the one I’ve been waiting most eagerly to see. We quickly reviewed the entire publication with Chapter 1 Developing Visions for Learning (Mission, 21st century skills, 21st century learner, standard for learner, changing roles of the SLMS) We spent some time discussing the changing roles of the SLMS. Current roles: Teacher, Information Specialist, Instructional Partner, Program Administrator see pg 16 for more info on how we envisioned the future roles.

My mind wandered to remembering attending the Vision Summit back in December 2006 and how I was determined to get to that summit in a snow storm. Previous blog posts on that summit: Preparing for Visioning, My Voicemail, Trends in Library Science

Learning 4 Life LogoJudy Bivens mentioned that Becky Jackman, TASL president-elect, and I might be able to add more information later on what was happening in ALA, AASL, and TASL on the standards so my mind worried: What do I know? Maybe I’d better organize my thoughts while we’re working. Oh, yes, AASL’s Learning for Life, the AASL wiki, TASL‘s presentation on Saturday September 26. Phew! I do know something.

Back to Empowering Learners. Chapter 2 Teaching for Learning. Each section begins with guidelines. Key words:  collaboration, lifelong learners, promoting reading, multiple literacies, inquiry-based learning, assessment. The librarians were thrilled to see reading used in a publication for librarians. I remember how we dramatically reclaimed the role of promoters of reading at the Vision Summit. Now to hear others’ enthusiasm is very satisfying. 

Judy shared some resources such as the book used in library information specialist training at Trevecca is Guided Inquiry by Carol Kuhlthau (Libraries Unlimited). Constructivist theory. "In Tennessee this is called transformative learning," reminds Dr. Susan Whitworth, Library Coordinator of Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. 

Another key book is Assessing Learning by Violet Harada.  

Judy Bivens mentions she is a big fan of Debra Kay Logan and her website (me, too). Deb Logan at TASL last year led a workshop on the importance of aligning our standards with how we are addressing student learning. 

Chapter 3 Building the Learning Environment Staffing, Learning Space, Budget, Collection, Instruction. 
Long-term strategic plan. Minimum of 1 full-time certified LMS. Flexible and equitable access (Some librarians grumble around the room which sends me thinking of the many approaches to providing access). Judy reminded us we need to gather data to show how being open early and late helps student test scores. Funding. Advocacy plan. Professional Development. 

One of the librarians whispers to me that she is displaced next year even though their school has nearly 2000 students, the district is cutting the second librarian out of the high schools if they don’t have over 2000 students. That leaves one librarian and a clerk to handle nearly 2000 students. We are so outraged! Side discussions begin on all the extra jobs they’ve given librarians this year – including the technology inventory that took one week of my life without pay.

Judy mentions that librarians should be doing advocacy. Diane’s note: We should be using ALA’s Advocacy Toolkit and Crisis Toolkit.  The Advocacy Toolkit is a collection of ready-to-use tools to conduct an advocacy campaign–large or small–for school library media programs. Crisis Toolkit is designed to assist you as you build meaningful and effective support for saving your program. 

Dr. Whitworth suggests another title for all to read – Enhancing Teaching and Learning by Jean Donham  which is published by Neal-Schuman. The MNPS librarians are doing a book study of this book. They will read it over the summer and deal with it during monthly meetings. 

Judy says if you don’t have a district library coordinator planning professional development and how to implement the new standards, set up a committee to focus on professional development. 

Mona Batchelor reminded people to participate in the ‘s Learn & Discover ning for the statewide online learning project. 

Back to the book Empowering Learners – Chapter 4 Empowering Learning Through Leadership or as I mistakenly typed Learnership. Judy Bivens was very excited to see librarians embracing their leadership roles. Key words: Global Society, Building Relationships, Characteristics of Good Leadership, Planning Our Future.
What are the characteristics of good leadership?

  • being creative
  • being interactive
  • being vision-headed
  • empowering others (by encouraging participation and involvement)
  • being passionate about our work (got that one covered!)

Empowering Learners Appendices include

  • ALA Core Competencies
  • Library Bill of Rights
  • Access to Resources
  • Code of Ethics
  • Learning for Life
  • History of SLMP Standards and Guidelines

Those appendices alone in one place make this title an essential purchase for your school library. (Ooo, looking in the back Becky points out my name is in print as a vision summit attendee. There’s always a thrill to see your name in print somewhere)
Resources for Staying Current 

Alice Bryant (Independent School Section leader) shared AASL’s Learning for Life website. Alice and Becky Jackman, president-elect of Tennessee Association of School Librarians, will be attending training before the ALA Annual conference in July in Chicago. Becky will represent TASL and plans to hold breakout sessions on Saturday of TASL and next summer there will be professional development.  

Alice loves the statements in the Guiding Principles: One size does not fit all. and A common vocabulary and message are critical to success. For Independent Schools we are all librarians, she states. Some independent schools are talking about an Information Commons not just a library. Alice says her room will always be the library. 

Alice put the old standards in an Excel spreadsheet. She listed Projects, with all skills taught, Class, and Date. ISS doesn’t have to meet state standards, but she plans to take her course list and the new standards to show how all projects relate to them. If she shared the whole with teachers, they’d panic. Alice uses a great deal of the Big 6 and made it the Big 7. Alice does the research and teaching. She has a technology integration specialist who can teach the powerpoint skills. She used the big 6 topics and listed what was important to simplify for her teachers. Technology integration specialist’s topics were in a different color. They want to focus on Presentation so pulled that out of Big 6 for more emphasis making it their big 7. She needs measurable lists everything. AASL came to evaluate their school and loved this. She thinks this is why they won the award. 

Dr. Whitworth says this is a pacing guide which indicates when in the year they will be collaborating to teach this.  Teachers don’t know what collaboration is so this helps them. Our district wants a collaborative environment and is frantically teaching every teacher about the new state standards this summer so there are opportunities for MNPS librarians. 

Sabrina McClure, HG Hills Middle School LIS,  is going to do a standards challenge with teachers for them to identify standards and work with her.  JFK teachers were able to sign up for up to 5 days of planning before school this year. I will be there to work, plan, and collaborate with them all 5 days.

Judy Bivens loves Janet Murray’s guide relating standards, Big 6, NETS, and activities. This is available at I think this is a great guide IF I’m focusing on the big 6 research process, but I want to focus on all the standards so need to develop my own document that is based upon AASL’s learning standards foremost and links to my curricular standards with teachers secondarily, then brings in the research process.

Standards in Action Small IconOn to the Standards for the 21st-Century Learner in Action page 11 – common beliefs. This is a good page to begin and I start making notes in my book. It’s such an ugly orange background anyway that won’t photocopy well, so why not make my notes in my book? Note constructivist theory, multiple literacies, social context 2.0 are implied.
Page 12 the Framework page shows visually the four standards and the big words for domains that we’ll keep coming back to: Skills, Dispositions, Responsibilities, and Self-assessments. The four standards include

  1. inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge; 
  2. draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge.
  3. share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society;
  4. pursue personal and aesthetic growth.

Judy Bivens points out that these standards move into the affective domain, not just the cognitive domain. 

Dispositions has long been a domain of college library programs. They want to be sure the student has the disposition to be a school library media specialist. What do you think this means? 

We flip back to page 7 to look at how the standards, strands, benchmarks, then indicators for each grade level are layered. Benchmarks are for grades 2, 5, 8, 10 and 12.

Judy is a member of the ELMS group (educators of library media specialists) and took information from the draft form to put in her powerpoint presentation. It is arranged in a calming peaceful lavender color on screen. The orange color of the book is STRESSFUL. Most participants agreed that it raises our heart rate just looking at the pages. 

We start jumping around the book to focus upon building our lesson for the afternoon session. We need the skills on page 19. Then on to page 42 to discusses dispositions. Responsibilities are on page 50. Self-assessment pages 57-61. Remember I’m focusing on eighth grade this year. 

The Self assessment pages are not as complete as I’d like in the big book, so I flip back to the eight-page Standards for the 21st Century Learner and decide this is going to be my constant planning companion. Students must learn reflection, to understand feedback from others, and self questioning to determine if they are understanding. 

I vow to take the following phrase from the top of page 60 and use this in posters and powerpoint presentations with students:

In taking charge of your learning you:

    • define your problem or task
    • investigate solutions
    • evaluate and change your process
    • make decisions about the effectiveness of your work
    • evaluate the final outcome

Workshop participants turn to page 95 for an action example for grade 8. This afternoon we will create a quick framework for our own example including:

connection to state standards
final product
library lesson
assessment (Susan suggests we develop rubric first)
instructional plan page 97
instructional activities

Participants state we need professional development just on rubric creating. Jeanne Vaughn librarian at McGavock High School reminds us, "With smaller learning communities, all high schools are developing school wide writing rubrics." 

The state of Tennessee released new standards in Math, Language Arts, and Science recently for implementation this next school year. All educators in Tennessee are preparing to use these standards which seem to have moved many skills down two grade levels – what was taught at 8th grade now must be mastered at 6th grade, etc. 

Extra Tools Librarians suggest while we are in the workshop:
Trails assessment (I’ve been a fan of this since their beginning)
Noodle Tools by Debbie Abilock (while I’ve used the free stuff, I just can’t afford the pay portion)
Cornell Note Taking (state Dept of Ed officials are loving this technique)
Using the website "What do you like: sponsored by US bureau of labor and statistics for career exploration.

Off for a lunch break and then we’ll be back in the afternoon to write lessons/units incorporating these new standards, integrating them with new state curricular standards in pairs then share with the entire group. Should be fun. Don’t you wish you were here?

Judy Bivens is teaching an elementary group at Trevecca next Monday and will do at least one presentation for Chattanooga schools. I greatly appreciate her help in taking these standards and helping us relate them to action steps for implementation. Way to go, Judy! Any other states need Judy to help implement these standards?


  1. teacherninja says:

    Wow. Thanks for this. Obviously I’m behind in my reading, being in SLM school and all. So do I need to buy ALL THREE books? Are they all basically the new Info. Power? Thanks for all the great info and links!

  2. I am definitely using all 3 parts. I think it took all the parts to gel for me. P.S. In case anyone wonders, I retroactively checked with AASL and have fairuse privileges to post this. No problems.

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