The Library Media Teacher: Teaching Tech
by Rob Darrow
What's the best way to get teachers to integrate technology? Most
agree there needs to be some type of ongoing professional development
plan. What should it look like? What really works when it comes
to empowering teachers?
Effective professional development plans begin with one person
who will facilitate the learning of teachers working towards an
identified goal. In many schools throughout the state, this person
is the library media teacher (LMT). Integrating technology in a
way that increases student achievement is one of the most important
aspects of the job of the LMT.
The mission of the library media teacher is "to ensure that
students and staff are effective users of ideas and information."
(Information Power, 1998). More specific goals for LMTs are identified
in nine national standards set forth by the American Association
of School Librarians, including: "the student who is information
literate accesses information efficiently and effectively; ... evaluates
information critically and competently; and ... uses information
accurately and creatively."
Library media teachers in California possess a library media teacher
credential, and many have also earned a Masters degree. Effective
programs include a credentialed library media teacher and a classified
library technician who work together in the media center.
The LMT can be the key to technology professional development at
a school. Proximity to the teacher is important if the learned strategies
are going to be integrated back into the teacher's classroom. Linda
Darling-Hammond, Professor of Teaching and Teacher Education at
Stanford University explains, "Teachers learn best by studying,
doing and reflecting; by collaborating with other teachers; by looking
closely at students and their work, and by sharing what they see."
(Excerpted from George Lucas Educational Foundation Web site: www.glef.org,
December 16, 2000.) In a typical collaborative lesson, the teacher
identifies the subject matter and project to be taught, while the
LMT identifies the process and technology that may be used.
Professional development occurs at every level and in a variety
of ways, from the individually motivated teacher to district-led
technology classes. However, as Darling-Hammond's research indicates,
"Professional development strategies that succeed in improving
teaching share several features. They tend to be: experiential,
engaging teachers in concrete tasks of teaching, assessment, and
observation that illuminate the processes of learning and development;
collaborative, involving a sharing of knowledge among educators;
[and] connected to and derived from teachers' work with their students,
as well as to examinations of subject matter and teaching methods.
Growing evidence suggests that this kind of professional development
not only makes teachers feel better about their practice, but it
also reaps learning gains for students, especially in the kinds
of more challenging learning that new standards demand." (Darling-Hammond,
1997; NFIE, 1996.)
The LMT is aware of the newest technologies and how they can be
integrated into the instructional framework. Effective use of technology
needs to be embedded into the daily actions of every teacher for
delivery of the curriculum and to meet the goal of information literacy
skills for all students. One of the best ways is to have an LMT
working side-by-side with a teacher, teaching lessons and integrating
technology. The LMT should also be an integral part of the school's
technology planning and help to focus the technology plan with regard
both to the purchase of compatible technology and consistency in
the use of technology in the delivery of instruction.
My Technology Path
I can remember when the school where I was work-ing got their first
Apple IIe computers. We set up a lab of these machines with a whole
selection of programs on six-inch floppy disks. Students typed on
them and played games like "hang man." No one at the school
taught me how to use the computers; I was just one of those people
who thought technology was important, so I spent many hours outside
school figuring out how the machines worked and which programs would
work best for my fifth-grade students. The principal at the school
was "into technology" and encouraged me to integrate the
computer lab into my daily instruction.
Alta Sierra Intermediate
As the library media teacher at Alta Sierra Intermediate in Clovis
Unified School District for the past five years, I can speak first-hand
about how professional development using the library media center
has worked for teachers.
Alta Sierra has 1300 seventh and eighth-grade students with about
60 teachers. The school began in 1994 with a block schedule where
students attended two-hour block classes Tuesday to Friday with
alternating classes. There was a Mac computer on every staff member's
desk. School-wide e-mail, word processing, and electronic gradebooks
were integrated into the school culture the first week of school.
The library media teacher and library technician were integral in
facilitating the use of technology by teachers, secretaries and
administrators, conducting various inservices before and after school,
and remaining a phone call away for anyone who might have questions.
The library media center had computers that could be used by students
and teachers for drop in use or as part of any class project. The
circulation catalog was on computer from day one, so showing teachers
and students how to best access resources in the center was an important
part of the beginning of each year.
I became the LMT in 1995, unknowing of the changes would soon occur.
The school converted from Mac to PC machines, initiated a student-purchased
laptop program, received 200 laptop computers for student use, and
was rewired with Ethernet connections in every building, classroom
and office, including the library media center. Professional development
was crucial for these transitions to occur as seamlessly as possible.
As the LMT, I was in-volved in every phase of these transitions.
Today, Alta Sierra has one-third (400) of its students bringing
laptop computers to school to use in language arts, history, math
and science classes. There are 10 teachers across different subjects
who teach these students. Every teacher is proficient in the use
of technology and the school is moving towards a wireless network.
You can see students today outside classrooms and in the media center
at lunchtime accessing the wireless access point and using the Internet.
I remember the first year we had our "pioneer" group
of laptop-toting students, convincing the teacher who eventually
took the leap to become the first laptop immersion teacher at Alta
Sierra. Then the language arts teachers received laptop computers,
a printer, and a big screen TV to use for classroom presentations.
The frustration level was high among these teachers, as they wanted
to use the technology, but had to learn how to connect all the wires
so the computer image could be seen on their TVs with a scan converter.
As the LMT I'd show one teacher how to connect all the parts, and
then that teacher would show others in the department.
I created week-long integrated technology lesson plans in the use
of Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint and the use of the World
Wide Web that teachers could use on their own. The collaborative
lesson/professional development model we followed generally included
these steps: the teacher and LMT would create a collaborative lesson
integrating a specific type of technology; the teacher would then
utilize similar strategies back in the classroom and share ideas
with others in the department; then other teachers would e-mail
the LMT to schedule time to do collaborative units. Professional
development days were an ideal time for teachers to meet, direct
their own learning and learn from one another. I conducted sessions
in creating Web pages or searching the Web for the different departments,
and the district also offered technology courses that could be taken
after school or on the weekends. The most effective change occurs
when teachers have control of their own time and their own technology
Our Web site is another important tool that aids teachers in the
integration of technology. Teachers go to the LMC Web site and get
ideas for collaboratively planned lessons that integrate technology.
They'd say, "I saw the lesson you did with Mrs. Bitter's class
on your Web site, when can I do that in the library media center
with my classes?" Over time, all of the technology integration
rubrics for teachers, LMT units, and professional development presentations
were put on the site so that teachers could access and use them
at any time. (See: www.clovisusd.k12.ca.us/alta/lmc).
The teachers at Alta Sierra continued to excel in integrating technology,
but with the advent of the World Wide Web it became apparent that
new guidelines would be needed to encourage them to further their
learning. I created the "Stages of Web Literacy"(see sidebar
p. 30) as one way for teachers to assess their own learning and
identify their next stage in professional development.
In 1999, "tech teams" were formally created at Alta Sierra
to help with the integration of technology. Through state technology
staff development funds, one person in each department was designated
as the "tech team leader" and received a stipend for this
position. They consult with their colleagues about what's important
to learn, and make the monetary and content decisions for professional
development planning for teachers at their respective grade level
If you're fortunate enough to have a credentialed Library Media
Teacher along with a classified Library Technician at your school,
you have probably learned how to better integrate books and technology
into the curriculum. You have probably planned collaborative lessons
with the LMT. These units may have included learning stations in
the library media center where your class has accessed CD-ROMs or
Web sites on a computer, or had your whole class on computers at
the same time. This partnership is ideal for empowering teachers
in the integration of technology and ensuring that all students
in California become information literate.
Rob Darrow is currently a Library Media
Teacher on Special Assignment as Online Learning Specialist for
the Clovis Unified School District. He served for five years as
the LMT at Alta Sierra Intermediate, where he received the California
School Library Association Technology Award in 1998. He is Vice-President
of Educational Technology for the California School Library Association.
He can be reached at www.clovisusd.k12.ca.us/learn
or via e-mail him at Robdarrow@aol.com.
Ten Stages Towards Web Literacy
Web Literacy: The ability to
access, search, utilize, communicate, and create information on
the World Wide Web.
You've heard about the Web; someone has shown you how it works
and you've determined that there's a use for it in your life:
time to invest, connect, and learn about the World Wide Web
You're learning how the World Wide Web (WWW) works. You're able
to use hyperlinks and bookmarks, and you occasionally go to
favorite areas for enjoyment. Equipment needed: computer, modem,
Internet account, and printer
You've identified a purpose in using the WWW. You're able to
search and find information; you know about a variety of search
mechanisms and good Web sites. You use the Web when needed or
You have a specific purpose for using the WWW: getting weather
or stock reports, reference, background information for teaching
content. You have knowledge of many different Web sites and
you use the Web several times a month or more.
You use projects/lessons on the WWW modified for personal research
and lessons. Your use varies according to the project. Equipment:
computer, modem or network connection, Internet account and
You use the WWW for daily research and for student projects/lessons,
may display information, i.e. paintings from the Louvre. You
use various Web projects such as Web quests, Web treasure hunts
and short term interactive projects. Use of Web varies according
to project. Equipment: as above, plus projection device and
screen or television with scan converter.
Teacher and students use the WWW for specific educational purposes;
Web projects are utilized. Students navigate, find, and use
information and display Web information to teach others. The
teacher guides student Web learning. Use of the Web varies according
to project. Equip-ment: as above, plus connected computers for
Teacher and students utilize the WWW daily for teaching, learning
and projects. The Web becomes an essential tool for learning.
Teacher-produced Web pages and Web projects facilitate student
Web Page Creation
Students and teacher create Web pages and Web projects, updated
by students for publishing and for use by others. You use the
Web daily. Equipment: as above, plus Web server access.
You have a student- and teacher-managed Web site. You add daily
to a site posted on the WWW and use the Web daily for creating,
finding and exchanging information.