Category Archives: K-12 Education

Who’s Testing Listening Comprehension?

With the new K-12 school year under way or on the verge, American elementary and middle school administrators are focused on “proving” that the kids in their districts are learning or “know” how to read. Several corporate entrepreneurs are on board to continue to make money through mass, data-driven program packages that administrators buy as a demonstration that care is being taken to “prove” kids are able to think about what they read. Lexile® leveling and Renaissance’s Accelerated Reading programs are probably the ones most commonly recognized both by families and library staff who are regularly asked to find books that respond to company profiles created of their students.

Individual student Lexile assessments are drawn from state testing results. The circularity is obvious and is discussed at length and critically in scholarly and popular publications. Renaissance’s Star Reading™ assessments are presented as “guiding” developing readers through increased skill levels by diagnosing their readiness through prepackaged tests. This approach, of course, has, like Lexiling, its proponents, as well as an increasingly voluble number of professional detractors. Continue reading Who’s Testing Listening Comprehension?

No better time for teachers and librarians to introduce teenagers to self-publishing than now

We live in an age in which the resources necessary to self-publish are readily available. Many adults self-publish their books and see them distributed to online retailers and libraries. Some libraries are beginning to facilitate this, especially with seniors who are memoirists, but what of students? What of adolescents whose hearts are filled with passion for life and who need to express their thoughts and feelings, to know that their words can find readers, and that their ideas matter to others? Now, thanks to Smashwords with its technology and how-to guides, educators and librarians can help these young people find their voices and speak to the world.

I send a big thanks to Tonya McQuade, poet, teacher and pioneer in both ebook publishing and in educational leadership.  Tonya McQuade began writing poetry as a child. She has won awards for it, published a book of her own writings, and appeared in anthologies. She has taught high school English for over 20 years. But in 2014, she found herself inspired her to go into self-publishing with her students. Continue reading No better time for teachers and librarians to introduce teenagers to self-publishing than now

When teachers forget how to listen

With the new American school year either poised to open or already entering its fifth or sixth day (depending on local practices), many classrooms are hearing the voice of just one of the room’s occupants. Teachers need to manage both their students’ learning opportunities and their interactive behaviors and, most typically, this is achieved in the 21st century by word of mouth: orally delivered directions, admonitions, and that warning shot of calling out a particular student by name.

Or calling out some syllables that the teacher is has decided suits the need for a name as well as does the actual name of the student. In the multilingual, multiethnic classrooms—and even in the comparatively homogenous one in which not everyone bears a three- to five-letter moniker shared by generations of English speakers—the expert in what to call the students isn’t the teacher. The wise would-be classroom manager simply asks. And then listens to what the student with eleven syllables and only four consonants pronounces.

Continue reading When teachers forget how to listen

Ebooks in K-12 libraries: The options, the issues, the possibilities

This NSR original three-part series on ebooks in K-12 or school libraries (written and researched by Peyton Stafford, an expert on school library-oriented publishing ) is intended for school librarians who want a basic understanding of how ebook business models work in their world and how to make them work as much as possible to the librarian’s advantage.

The first article looks at business models and their importance, and then sketches out the main kinds of ebook business models that K-12 librarians have to deal with. The second article looks at the models in more depth and give examples of how they work in practice. It also discusses platform issues. The third article draws a few conclusions and points out some ways that librarians can skillfully use their knowledge of ebook business models to stretch their budgets and better serve their teachers and students.

After reading the three articles listed below, school librarians should be able to recognize the business model that goes with any particular ebook offering they may be evaluating. This will help them compare offerings so they can make wise decisions as they acquire and manage their ebook collections.

 

Choosing Ebook Platforms for K-12 Libraries

This is the third in a series of  articles on ebook  models in K-12 or school libraries. The first article was about why school librarians would want to know about anything as abstract as an ebook business model (hint: knowing the basic models will help you choose the best products to meet your library’s goals). The second article examined the four basic models and boiled them down to their simplest levels. One treats ebooks like printed books. One treats ebooks like journal articles. One treats ebooks like books in a bookstore. One treats ebooks like shared resources. Today’s article will show how to use these basic concepts to select the best kinds of ebook products for your library.

Some issues to keep in mind

Before going further, let’s look at some of the issues that come with ebooks in school libraries. We want to have these in mind as we consider how to create a combination of products with different ebook business models. These issues involve three areas: the supplier’s platform and business model, assuring that the ebooks are used to support the educational goals of the school, and bridging the digital divide.

To begin with the platform and business model issues, we need to understand what an ebook platform is, and why it is important. We already know what a business model is and how the four kinds of business models affect school libraries. The platform is the specific technology that an ebook supplier uses to provide ebooks. It includes a web-based interface for student use. It may include apps that make the books readable on mobile devices. It will have an administrative interface or dashboard for you to use so you can control loan periods, track usage, etc. It may also have a teacher interface so that teachers can assign reading to students, and then monitor their progress. If you need to select and purchase individual ebooks before your students can read them, it will also include a book ordering function. In other words, the platform supports everything you, your students and your teachers do with ebooks. Without the platform, you cannot use the ebooks. Continue reading Choosing Ebook Platforms for K-12 Libraries

The Four Basic Ebook Models for K-12 Libraries

This is the second article in a three-part series on ebook business models in K-12 libraries. In the first article, we looked at what a business model is and at the four main kinds of ebook business models that K-12 librarians need to know about. In this article, we will look at each of the four basic models in more depth and glance at some examples of them. We will not attempt to compare product offerings in depth, but I will mention an example or two of each model. Because ebook technology is still in its early stages, the platforms and feature sets of each offering change rapidly, so any comparison is bound to be a snapshot at best.

As you read, keep in mind that ebooks are not simply digital versions of printed books. Legally, they are licensed as software, so when you buy an ebook you are buying a license to use a piece of software. You are not buying a physical object. You do not own it in the same way that you would own a printed book. Technologically, they are completely different, too. While they may look like pictures of books on the screen, under the skin they are software.

On the one hand, this brings some limitations, but at the same time, it is possible to use ebook technology to empower readers in ways that cannot be done with print technology. Continue reading The Four Basic Ebook Models for K-12 Libraries

K-12 Ebook Business Models and Why You Should Care About Them

“Why do I sometimes feel that the conditions I have to accept when I buy ebooks do not work well for me or for my students?”

“I’ve heard the term business model, and I’d like to understand how business models affect me in the real world of my work. But I don’t want to spend a lot of time learning about them. I just want a basic understanding.”

 

If you are a school librarian, and these ebook questions are on your mind, then please continue reading.

This is the first article in a three-part series on ebooks in K-12 or school libraries. It is intended for school librarians who want a basic understanding of how ebook business models work in their world, and of how to make them work as much as possible to the librarian’s advantage. Continue reading K-12 Ebook Business Models and Why You Should Care About Them

The power of free choice in literacy acquisition–kids’ edition

With the explosion of digital audiobook publishing, dedicated listeners now exercise a wide range of free choices for their literate ears: diverse genres, classics, backlist sleepers, hot-off-the-press new titles. There are other choices they can make now, too: performances by single narrators, full cast performances, audiobooks enhanced with musical beds or realistic sound effects, short-form works and those that require more than 40 hours of submersion. The choices literate listeners make are shaped by both wide-ranging experiences with various options and awareness of which of these holds the most satisfaction in their personal consumption. These two shaping mechanisms function iteratively to further develop listening taste. And every choice made regarding listening taste deepens the listener’s skills and comes courtesy of the freedom to choose.

Varieties of tea
Range Beverage Choice Tea Exotic

In contrast to all these benefits of free choice, children new to literate listening come up against forces of external power over their potential to gain independent skills. For school children in marginally progressive classrooms, this typically takes the form of adult insistence that a child listening to an audiobook must have a print paper or ebook copy in hand. Many American schools, still subscribing to the benighted Accelerated Reading cult, keep any kind of literacy freedom bound to prescribed levelling codes and a schedule of completion over immersion time. Continue reading The power of free choice in literacy acquisition–kids’ edition

Digital Literacy in the “post-truth” age

Rosen’s newest and timely offering, its Digital Literacy database, is meant to empower students to be savvy digital citizens and tell fact from fiction in the ‘post-truth’ age. It includes  Interactive Project-Based Activities that guide students (in Grades 7-12) to be citizen journalists; create podcasts, social media campaigns, and more. Free trial for school libraries is available here.

In Rosen’s words:

Maintaining the gold standard set by Rosen Digital’s inaugural product, Teen Health & Wellness: Real Life, Real Answers, Digital Literacy delivers curriculum-correlated content; promotes digital literacy and 21st-century learning skills; and offers research, report, and homework help.

Developed for teen learners with their unique learning styles and sensibilities in mind, Digital Literacy features a straightforward, easy-to-navigate interface. Teen-friendly articles make digital literacy and cyber citizenship both readily comprehensible and highly engaging. Dynamic videos and relevant photos enhance and extend learning. Interactive activities prompt students to use real-world Web sites and software to create unique user-generated content including: podcasts, public service announcements, multimedia presentations, digital business plans, and dynamic articles.

Digital Literacy informs and inspires learners about key digital literacy and cyber citizenship topics including entrepreneurship and careers; communication, cyberbullying, and safety; privacy and ethics; research skills and tools for the digital age; social networking; and gaming.

Digital Literacy includes resources to support and reinforce classroom instruction. Curriculum-correlated content supports Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts (ELA), AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner, 2016 ISTE Standards for Students (ISTE-S), and state standards for technology. Educators will also appreciate lesson plans, assessment, extension and enrichment activities, as well as the text-to-speech feature, printable research sheets, and article-specific glossaries.