eBooks: Creating Equity in a World with Distance Learning
By Christine Schneider @K12Christine
Navigating the digital world has definitely come to the forefront for K-12 schools during the pandemic. Seasoned teachers who had limited experience with integrated digital content found themselves struggling with which resources to use and how to pivot toward teaching remotely. With many K-12 schools incorporating some form of distance or online learning, it’s key to consider what digital content is available to students and how to get the most out of it.
But what works? How can digital content support curriculum standards while still prioritizing the needs of teachers and students, whether learning happens in person or virtually? These questions are addressed in a recently published article in English in Texas titled, “What’s in Your Feed? Navigating the Digital Divide to Advocate for Diverse Texts.”
Last year, due to a new standards adoption for Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills English Language Arts and Reading (TEKS ELAR), I was fortunate to meet Dr. Carol Revelle, an assistant professor in the reading program at Texas A&M University–Commerce. We met up with Audrey Wilson-Youngblood, a librarian at Keller High School and coordinator for library services in Keller ISD, and had the opportunity to present at the Texas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts (TCTELA) conference. That session led to the journal article in English in Texas, and the timing could not have been more perfect.
The article explains: “With the recent changes in the Texas state standards, Gale has updated its databases [and eBooks] to align and complement the new TEKS. Teachers can access texts and resources by specific standards, and eBook libraries have been curated to match Texas standards specifically.”
The article goes on to mention Gale’s TEKS-aligned eBook collections for each grade level. It states:
“From an ELAR perspective, Gale also offers three [eBook] collections containing more than 150 titles at each grade span of elementary, middle school, and high school, which have been specifically aligned to the TEKS. High school is the newest of these, and even contains a virtual bookshelf based specifically on the 2019 most-searched topics in Texas schools. Using the virtual bookshelves, a teacher can find the texts that connect directly to that TEKS.”
The article addresses the struggle of using online materials and how potential solutions can be found within databases and eBook collections. When choosing content for students, schools must (1) ensure that students have access to diverse texts, (2) find texts that support social and emotional learning (SEL), and (3) consider how accommodating a text is for English language learner students or students with disabilities. It’s easier said than done, but using Gale’s digital resources in the classroom, whether in person or virtually, can help meet these needs.
As literacy expert Ernest Morrell stated, “We are living during a time of communications revolution.” Now is the time to reflect on the content that is provided to students and the format in which it is presented.
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