Education Week - March 5, 2014 - Leaders to Learn From - S12
DIRECTOR OF INSTRUCTIONAL
Adams 12 Five Star School District,
BY KATIE ASH
hen $50 million in budget cuts over three years
forced her school district to cut librarians' schedules
from full to part time, Julie A. Bowline knew the loss
of services for students would be difficult to bear.
But instead of lamenting the circumstances, Ms. Bow-
line, the 56-year-old director of instructional technology
and library services for the 43,000-student Adams 12
Five Star district north of Denver, chose to reimagine
what librarians in her district could be-and think about
how to leverage the little time they had to get the greatest
impact on student learning.
Drawing on her background in instructional technol-
ogy, Ms. Bowline and district library-services coordinator
Kimberly Ackerman (who has since retired), came up
with an entirely new position to best draw on the skills
of the teacher-librarians: digital-literacy teachers for the
elementary and middle schools.
Principals had expressed a strong interest in incorporating
more technology into the classroom, said Ms.
Bowline, so "it seemed in our mind that the person most
ready to take on that responsibility was the teacherlibrarian."
The newly deployed digital-literacy teachers
work alongside regular classroom teachers to help
students develop technology and research skills, while
media clerks check out books to students and keep the
library doors open.
"I'm side-by side with the teachers, and it's really nice
because I'm also not only working with the kids, but I'm
bringing up the teacher's awareness of these different
digital products," said Molly Gibney, a district librarian
who made the transition to digital-literacy teacher.
Into the Classroom
Ms. Bowline became an instructional technology coordinator
in the district in 2006 after moving to Colorado
and transitioned into her role as director of the department
in 2009. Before that, she had spent 11 years teaching
elementary and middle school in Wisconsin.
Her educational background-she received her mas-
ter's degree in computer education-primed her to embrace
technology as a vehicle for change.
Knowing the change would be a controversial one-
some of the teacher-librarians did not embrace technology
as wholeheartedly as others-Ms. Bowline decided to
allow each principal to choose whether he or she wanted
to retain the traditional teacher-librarian role or pilot
S12 | LEADERS TO LEARN FROM > leaders.edweek.org
EDUCATION WEEK * March 5, 2014
the new digital-literacy-teacher role, a move she said has
been crucial to the experiment's success.
The digital-literacy-teacher idea was piloted with six
teachers in nine schools during the 2012-13 school year
and yielded positive results. All but two schools decided
to continue with the digital-literacy-teacher position, and
classroom teachers reported higher levels of collaboration
and support as a result of the pilot.
The move has been crucial to the success of one middle
school's bring-your-own-device initiative, in which students
are allowed to bring their personal laptops, iPads,
and other technologies to school, said Ms. Bowline.
Four new schools signed on to try the digital-literacy-
teacher model in the 2013-14 school year.
Ms. Gibney, who has been a librarian in the district for
10 years, was one of the original digital-literacy teachers
who participated in the pilot at the 650-student Mountain
View Elementary School.
She said the transition from teacher-librarian to digital-literacy
teacher was "a natural fit" since she had already
been incorporating digital-literacy skills into her
lessons as a librarian.
In creating the new role, Ms. Bowline "was looking at
not just the librarian, but the way the whole school interacted
with the library," Ms. Gibney said.
Now, she said, in the Adams 12 Five Star district, the
digital-literacy teacher aims to work directly with classroom
teachers to co-teach lessons that focus on digital
citizenship, information literacy, and digital literacy. Ms.
Gibney, for example, has introduced different presentation
technologies to classrooms in order to complete
projects, taught lessons about how to find credible information
online, and instructed classes on how to come
up with effective search terms to find the information
Sabrina Jankowski is a 5th grade classroom teacher at
Mountain View Elementary who worked with Ms. Gibney
both when Ms. Gibney was a teacher-librarian and
in her role as a digital-literacy teacher.
"It's hard because I would have originally said that I
didn't want the digital-literacy coach [as much as the
teacher-librarian]," she said, but after working with Ms.
Gibney in her new role for two years, Ms. Jankowski said
Ms. Gibney is able to be much more deeply involved in
"I definitely would not have been able to put as much
technology into my classroom if it wasn't for her," she said.
Having Ms. Gibney there to co-teach lessons has made
Ms. Jankowski and her fellow teachers much more likely
to try new technologies they otherwise would be intimi
Education Week - March 5, 2014 - Leaders to Learn From
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