A New Curriculum For a New Age - Tech Learning

A New Curriculum For a New Age

As most school districts do, we revise curriculum on a rotating basis. As both Director of Instructional Technology and Library Media Services, it has been my responsibility to drive the revisions of both these curricula. In the past, these two concepts were considered separate and apart, but this past summer, as two
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As most school districts do, we revise curriculum on a rotating basis. As both Director of Instructional Technology and Library Media Services, it has been my responsibility to drive the revisions of both these curricula. In the past, these two concepts were considered separate and apart, but this past summer, as two distinct committees proceeded to do so, we soon realized that the integration of these two concepts of instructional technology and library media was the vision we were seeking for our school district. Both committees merged to create what eventually would be called the Groton Public Schools K-12 Information and Technology Literacy Curriculum. Using the District's "Handbook of Curriculum Development and Implementation," (referred to as our Curriculum Development Bible), we set out to fashion a document that would be visionary, comprehensive, and useable. From its inception, the committee agreed that, in addition to the standard curriculum components, we would directly address:

  • National (ISTE) and Connecticut state technology competencies for students and teachers
  • Seamless curriculum subject content integration through the requirement of a GATE (Guaranteed Assured Technology Experience) by every student every year
  • The newly-adopted high school technology graduation requirement
  • The curriculum's financial impact
  • The importance of keeping the printed word and traditional library concepts in the forefront of learning
  • The instillation of the concept of life-long learning.

Early on in the process it became apparent to all that we had made the right decision in determining to develop one unified curriculum that would embrace and encompass traditional library skills as well as current and emerging technology concepts. The result is a curriculum that embodies a 21st century information and technology literacy vision for our students.

We began by identifying our beliefs that are informed by the uniqueness of our community. Groton's heterogeneous population consists of approximately 40% military families, 30% at-risk families, and 30% upper middle class families who live in the historic seaport town of Mystic. It was immediately apparent that our diverse community drove our beliefs. Undoubtedly, readers will find them universal and applicable.

Beliefs

1. Diversity: Information and Technology Literacy (ITL) is an innovative curriculum that serves a diverse population of learners to empower them to achieve their highest potential.

2. Partnership: Library Media and Instructional Technology are intrinsically related.

3. Shared Responsibility: To address the needs of the entire community, the ITL curriculum encourages collaboration among students, parents, educators, business leaders, and other community members.

4. Integration: The ITL curriculum is an integral part of all curricula and, as such, will be infused into every aspect of the teaching and learning process.

5. Equity: The ITL curriculum affords all learners guaranteed assured experiences.

6. Environment and Staffing: The provision of model facilities, ample resources, and appropriate staffing creates and maintains an effective learning environment.

7. Accessibility: The ITL curriculum assures an equal opportunity for all learners to access information and technologies at their point of need.

8. Constructivism: Learners develop their own knowledge base by being actively engaged in authentic learning experiences.

9. Professional Development: The ITL curriculum builds a culture of continuous learning and enhances instructional growth.

10. Appreciation: The ITL curriculum renders learners the opportunities to acquire an aesthetic and critical appreciation and enjoyment of a wide range of literature, media and technology.

ITL Philopsophy

Our philosophy flows from and embodies these beliefs. It also addresses the concepts included in the Connecticut Common Core of Learning.

The Information and Technology Literacy is grounded in the belief that the effective utilization of technology and information is essential to learning. All learners will be empowered to become responsible, competent, and productive citizens of the 21st century global society. It is the Groton Public Schools' responsibility to provide authentic, integrated and equitable learning experiences using current and emerging resources and technologies to create a community of life long learners.

The Groton Public Schools Information and Technology Literacy Program (ITL) aligns with the Connecticut Common Core of Learning (CCCL). The Common Core outlines high expectations for all K-12 students to develop to their fullest potential. It recognizes that students will be independent, competent and confident users of information and technology who are able to apply strategies for acquiring knowledge and communicating ideas.

The integrated instructional approach of the ITL program promotes students' ability to gain skills and transfer knowledge across all subject areas as outlined in the Common Core. The ITL supports the CCCL's expectations in foundational skills and competencies.

Learning Environment

In light of typical budget limitations and fiscal restraints, the committee determined that it would be imperative to delineate the specific characteristics of the environment that must exist in order for this new curriculum to flourish. These include:

  • Psychological Climate
  • Physical Components
  • Instructional Components
  • Characteristics

Details are online at Information and Technology Literacy.

ITL Curriculum Goals

As a result of the ITL Program each learner will:

  • Identify and apply a wide range of educational technologies to conduct research, communicate information and ideas, create original works, organize data and solve problems;
  • Use effective and efficient strategies to explore and use an information in technology-rich environments to gain knowledge, deepen understanding and solve complex problems;
  • Use technology to enhance essential skills and facilitate learning;
  • Apply the skills necessary to locate, evaluate, interpret and synthesize information from print, non-print and electronic sources;
  • Acquire an aesthetic and critical appreciation and enjoyment of a wide range of literature, media, and technology;
  • Demonstrate independent, confident, and competent use of information and technology;
  • Practice ethical behavior in the use of information and technology;
  • Self-evaluate competency in the application of information and technology to promote continuous growth;
  • Develop qualities required of productive life-long learners in the 21st century global society.

ITL Content Standards K-12

1. Defining Information Needs
Learners will define information needs and identify effective courses of action to conduct research, solve complex problems and pursue personal enrichment.

2. Technology Operations and Concepts
Learners will demonstrate proficiency in the operation of technology systems.

3. Information Systems and Strategies
Learners will effectively demonstrate an understanding of information skills, strategies and systems to locate and use print, non-print and/or electronic resources to solve problems, conduct research and pursue personal enrichment.

4. Technology Communications Tools
Learners will use telecommunications to collaborate, publish, and interact with peers, experts, and other audiences.

5. Information Processing
Learners will apply evaluative criteria to the selection, interpretation, analysis and synthesis of information from a variety of sources and formats.

6. Application of Technology Productivity and Communication Tools
Learners will use appropriate technologies and a variety of formats to create written, visual, oral and multimedia products to communicate ideas, information or conclusions to others.

7. Evaluation
Learners will evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of their own choices and use of information and technology for problem solving and communication.

8. Responsible and Ethical Use of Information and Technology
Learners will demonstrate responsible and legal use of information resources, computers or other technologies, recognizing attendant social, economic and ethical issues.

9. Media and Technology Appreciation
Learners will enhance their aesthetic and critical appreciation and enjoyment of a wide range of literature, media and technology.

ITL Content Standards and Strands

To make the delivery of instruction more manageable, the nine content standards have been grouped into five strands as visible at ITL Content Standards and Strands.

  • Information Acquisition and Analysis:
  • Information Synthesis, Application and Communication:
  • Assessment and Evaluation:
  • Ethical Use:
  • Media and Technology Appreciation

Benchmarks

When establishing the benchmarks, we were careful to make sure that they were sequential, progressively more challenging, developmentally appropriate, and focused on curriculum integration. They are posted online as "Benchmarks for Strand A," etc.

Budget Impact

Our district requires that all curriculum revision plans be accompanied by a document that specifically delineates the budget impact for implementation. This document can be sobering and daunting, because curriculum committees are mandated to write the best curriculum possible, based on their vision for potential student achievement, and not on projected cost. In other words, if money were no object, what curriculum would be implemented in our classrooms? The subsequent budget impact document is based on the presumption that we will implement a curriculum of the highest standard. The reality is, however, that we usually are required to compromise, to adjust, and to decelerate implementation, based on available resources and funding.

Future Directions

We plan to pilot this new curriculum in one of our elementary schools. The Mary Morrisson School recently was chosen as one of 16 schools state-wide to receive a Blue Chip Technology Grant for the purpose of establishing showcase technology integration schools throughout the state of Connecticut. The grant's financial parameters provide Mary Morrisson with all the human and material resources needed to implement the ITL curriculum in an ideal environment.

In summer 2004, the ITL curriculum committee will reconvene to incorporated suggestions, changes, new strategies and activities suggested by the Mary Morrission teachers who piloted the curriculum. Several school districts have asked whether we plan to prepare a Scope and Sequence Chart. The committee has decided that an SSC would be very helpful for teachers, so during the summer 2004 curriculum revision period, we hope to produce this document.

The Groton Public Schools' Information and Technology Literacy Curriculum, in its entirety, including all Appendix Documents, is available on-line at Information and Technology Literacy K-12. Users are welcome to use any or all portions of the document. We request that you acknowledge us as the source.

Email: Marielizabeth Crompton

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