I think we can all agree that our students need to develop skills so they can be efficient and effective online readers, curators, and users of information. Right? Based on this idea, I wonder who is responsible for teaching these skills?
The Common Core State Standards do call for students to gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize and report on information. The International Society for Technology Education promote communication, collaboration, and problem solving. Standards created by the American Association of School Librarians emphasizes the need for students to inquire and think critically.
With standards as our guide, educators have definitely been given the charge. And many teachers have taken on this responsibility with enthusiasm and vigor. Still others are hanging back, possibly feeling hesitant about integrating technology into their teaching or wondering how there could be time in the day to teach one more thing. Some may consider the teaching of online reading skills to be the realm of someone else – the library media specialist rather than the classroom teacher, for instance. I can’t help but wonder who is responsible?
The classroom teacher has the deep understanding of the grade-level curriculum that helps to make online reading an important part of finding, understanding and using information in the content areas.
The library media specialist is knowledgeable about the ways information is organized, sources of quality informational texts, and strategies used to search for information.
The instructional technology specialist lives and breathes technology and knows useful educational websites and apps for gathering digital information and creating a product that can be shared with others.
A reading specialist’s niche stems from a breadth and depth of knowledge about phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension – all foundational elements of online reading.
A teacher of students with special learning needs knows the most effective ways to convey information to these students and can be instrumental in helping students to develop the online reading skills they are surely already using or will need to use in their lives.
Hopefully by now the answer to the question “Whose job is it?” seems obvious. We must pool our expertise and all take on this responsibility. Certainly there is enough work to go around . Effectively using the Internet as a source of information and sharing this information with others is a challenging task that takes much explanation, modeling, and guided practice. This work must begin early and practice must occur often. Having students use the Internet as an information source at school cannot be relegated to being a treat when other work is finished, or an opportunity only given to the students who excel. In fact, Don Leu advocates the teaching of foundation reading skills through quality websites, so that even Kindergartners can begin to become Web literate.
Let’s join together and step up to take on this challenge – it’s not too early to get started.