Spark the Power of Connection

6 min read

| Andrea Drouillard, Inside Sales Director, K‒12 and Public Libraries (Author) & Nicole Albrecht, Gale eBooks Specialist, K‒12 (Coauthor) |

Spark Change: Making Your Mark in a Digital World examines the possibilities available when students are given the opportunity to amplify their learning online. Recently, I had the privilege to Zoom chat with coauthors Cynthia Merrill and Olivia (Liv) Van Ledtje.

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Spark Change considers the experience of being a connected learner through three concepts of citizenship: being a good person, being a critical thinker, and being an advocate for something you care about in life. It also examines the power of partnerships with schools, teachers, communities, and families in digital learning—which is more important now than ever.

Today we find ourselves in an unprecedented situation with self-isolating and school closures. So I asked Cynthia and Liv how their book can help districts that want to begin to harness the power of partnering with families and the community. They shared that Spark Change is different because it emphasizes the importance of informing parents while putting the teacher first. In real time, we’re redefining what it means to teach with technology and leverage it in new, innovative ways. Now is a great time for parents and kiddos to explore together the power of the technology that connects us to each other, our classrooms, and the world.

In 2017, UNICEF released a report called The State of the World’s Children 2017: Children in a Digital World, which Cynthia and Liv learned about from their friend, Anne Collier. UNICEF’s position that children’s rights include digital access is driven by a core principle: Respect and protect the child. We need to come out of the other side of this pandemic and acknowledge that this was a challenge because access and technology aren’t readily available. Equity has always been looked at through a lens of privacy and security. Now we need to look at who we can partner with to get kids what they need. Technology isn’t a choice. Digital rights are student rights. 

Digital literacy involves more than just reading and writing skills; it encompasses broader skills, such as reading on digital platforms, understanding fake news and primary websites, and creating and sharing work online. Cynthia said that teaching digital literacy should be as normal as teaching a child how to behave in a grocery store. It’s part of parenting. We couldn’t agree more.

To help educators, parents, and students navigate the digital waters, Gale has created eBook collections aligned to digital citizenship core values. Some of the values that Cynthia touches on in her book include how to behave on social platforms, talking with kids about commenting on posts, clicking a like button, creating a good message or post, and discussing why the words you post are your message to the world—and why it is important that your message reflects your authentic self. There are several eBook titles from the collections that support these areas, such as What You Post Lasts Forever: Managing Your Social Media Presence by Enslow Publishing, Uncovering Bias in the News by Core Library, Tweeting with a Purpose by Rosen Central, and Digital Safety Smarts by Lerner Publications.

Cynthia wasn’t afraid to let her daughter be “out there” because she was teaching her how to be out there appropriately. She used a guided practice method: I do, we do, you do. The “we do” component is important. Explore tools that connect with your children. Connect to the world with them, and they will understand the power of that connection! 

For example, 12-year-old Liv used technology as a tool for empathy, equity, and activism. Liv’s mom and coauthor of Spark Change, Cynthia, is a former university faculty member, now consultant, who worked with graduate students on metacognition. She found that videos capturing students in deep moments of reflection were more powerful than their written reflections from the field. She would watch the videos with her students and discuss why they were helping them express more thoughtful reflections. Liv watched and learned, and started creating LivBits when she was eight years old. She now has 44,000 followers on her MOMitered account.

Published in 2019 by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Spark Change is one of 16 cross-searchable titles available through Gale eBooks: Professional Learning ISTE Collection 12. It is also part of the Gale eBooks: Virtual Learning PD Collection, which currently provides open access to dozens of other titles that can help with the transition to online learning. The new Virtual Learning PD Collection covers tips and practices for virtual learning environments, hybrid learning, and online professional development. Gale curates many professional development (PD) collections based on trends, and offers budget-friendly options that provide equity for all teachers.

For more information, please partner with your Gale education consultant.

Van Ledtje, Olivia, and Cynthia Merrill. “About ISTE.” In Spark ChangeMaking Your Mark in a Digital World, iii. Portland, OR: International Society for Technology in Education, 2019. Gale eBooks (accessed April 14, 2020).

Meet the Authors

Andrea Drouillard

Andrea Drouillard is a sales director for K‒12 and public library markets at Gale. She’s a mom, music lover, lipstick hoarder, gardener, and street art enthusiast who is always happiest by the water.

Follow @AndreaD_EdTech

Nicole is a certified high school teacher from Michigan. She has her Master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction with a focus on Adolescent Literacy. As a former teacher, Nicole recognizes the importance of curating eBook collections that meet the needs of the school and students. She loves reading and spending time with her parrot, Turkey.

Follow @GVRLNicole

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