This past Saturday, I attended Edcamp Philly along with several hundred other educators. It was a day filled with great conversations and connections that I hope will continue both face to face and virtually in the days and months to come. Today, I had the opportunity to hear from Brenda Boyer, as part of a district professional development presentation, some of the fabulous work she’s been doing around digital curation and the ever evolving role of libraries. As I reflect on these experiences, I struggle to find a balance between the connected learning framework, student curation/ higher-order skills, and the narrow ways in which CCSS can be interpreted at times.
The Connected Learning Framework is centered around equitable, social, and participatory learning. This sort of real-world, authentic, connected, relevant learning experience is what I seek to design and provide for my students. I also love how it blends experiential learning with content creation. During a fabulous conversation at Edcamp Philly (notes here), the question was raised,
What is the role of library in connecting teachers?
We came to the conclusion that the library space can act as a third teacher and has the potential to bring teachers together to learn from each other as well as from those beyond the walls of their school. Yet, being able to create these spaces is no easy task. It depends on building relationships, between all involved, that foster a larger culture of trust, transparency, and risk-taking.
When asked to describe what I do, I tend to emphasize this idea of connecting and connectedness. I see my role as an elementary teacher-librarian as being able to connect students and teachers to resources (both print, digital, and human). I have used the network of fabulous educators I’ve created over the past year or so to connect my students with authentic audiences for their learning. We have communicated and collaborated with other students, teachers, and authors. My students and I have shared experiences that I hope have empowered them and helped them realize that their voices matter.
It wasn’t until today that I realized that these experiences and our use of this framework depended on my ability to curate a robust network of people as well as resources. It has me thinking…
Is curation a precondition for connection?
In listening to Brenda this morning, I was reminded of earlier thoughts I had written down in response to the question posed by Joyce Valenza on Twitter about effective Pinterest curation. Back in February, my definition of the term ‘curation’ was focused on tools, links, and books that could be nicely embedded into our library website. Yet, today I’m wondering- where does the curation of social capital enter the equation? As a librarian, isn’t it also part of our role to be managing not only the books and tech but also the relationships? At the end of the day the books will still be on the shelves. It’s the relationships I’ve built this year with 450+ students and hundreds of educators that are most valuable. I absolutely love that my students have created blogs, written collaborative poetry, engaged in independent inquiry, created a yarn tree, and connected with authors. I hope that moving forward, these experiences don’t get lost in conversations of CCSS, common assessments, evaluations, and rigor.