Reading

Interesting article in the StarTribune about teens’ reading habits, “Young Adults Reading on the Go.”

We always hear that kids don’t read anymore, so I was intrigued to see this article. I disagree that kids don’t read – they just don’t read the way I read when I was a kid. They read texts, blogs, Tumbler, Facebook, more.

Kids are also writing all the time — the same as above: texting, blogs, Facebook, etc. They even write papers on their phones!

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Finally!

This year, my son is taking an Astronomy class at a three-week summer program. It’s intense – they are doing some tough stuff during these three weeks. My son loves it.

On the first day, he was so excited to tell me that the teacher told them to USE their camera on their cell phones/iPods!! The teacher told them to take pictures of the activities they do in class. Wow. He gets it!!

The kids are going to use the pictures to create a slide show for the Open House night  on the second-to-last day of camp. I think this is brilliant. Instead of the teacher taking all the pictures, let the kids! That way you see the class through their eyes – not the teachers. The kids have a task, a responsibility.

The teacher also encouraged the kids to show their parents the pictures. So my son does. It’s been a great way to get past the “What did you do today. Nothing.” conversation. Instead, I ask him to show me the pictures he took that day. We’ve had some great conversations, he’s talked a ton more than he would otherwise, and I’ve learned something. It would have been much harder to explain some of what they did without the pictures.

So, besides learning incredible stuff about astronomy, the kids are also learning digital citizenship, and 21st century skills such as communication and collaboration. In addition, they are using visual media to communicate – and since over 60% of this generation are visual learners, this fits right in.

So, thank you, Mr. Bullard. You get it.

 

The Generation Gap

I experienced the generation gap today.

Today, I attended a retreat for the board of a local community theater. The board is, happily, a mix of ages – from high school thru retired people. We were having a loose conversation late in the meeting about communications, especially how to find people at the last minute or in a hurry.

It wasn’t possible to come up with a way that worked for all. It totally fit the stereotype: the older folks don’t check their phones, and the younger ones don’t check email. What to do?

It was a multi-faceted decision:

  • a group text function for most of us, for urgent communications, etc.
  • a good old fashioned phone call to cell phones for really urgents/emergency contact; or to catch the admin who is constantly on the move
  • and Facebook messaging to contact the younger set! They’ll see Facebook messages immediately on their phones. Facebook messages were seen by that group as a much more reliable way to connect. Forget email!

I think the system will work. Just takes good contacts list with lots of numbers!

Biggest Impact

Interesting post from Emerging EdTech about a survey of educators about what technologies have the biggest impact on teachers.

The three were:

  1. Teacher professional development
  2. Providing a computer and internet access for every student
  3. Mobile Technologies

These aren’t a surprise and it is definitely worth paying attention!

I sit on a district curriculum committee as a parent rep. This week, the Media Specialists made their presentation about curriculum plans for the next seven years. (OK, just that is totally unfair. How can a group who deals with technology plan out seven years?)

The media specialists got it. They knew why technology and digital literacy are so important. It was very clear to me that they are often speaking to people who don’t understand – to the teachers in the district. They did a survey of the teachers. Comments on the survey made it clear that teachers don’t feel it is their responsibility to teach the concepts of digital literacy, critical thinking about sources, etc.

Professional development is key. It is essential. Don’t forget it! Without it, those other two (which are also incredibly important) are worthless.

Mobile Research

I watched a webinar yesterday by Shelley Terrell (@ShellTerrell) about using mobile devices for research. She had great tips and tools, a couple of which I knew about, and a couple of news ones I’m testing out. (The webinar was from SimpleK12, and I expect it’ll be up on their webinar archive soon.)

Some of the ones I’m familiar with include EasyBib, Posterous, Instapaper, DropBox, Wikipedia and Show Me. (These are all available for iOS and Android.)

New ones I’m testing include LinoIt and Newsy. I’ll also test Wikitude on my phone.

Ran across this  quote this morning, and it fits perfectly:

Students are “asked to do research on a desktop computer that absolutely has less processing power than the computer in their pocket.”

From “To Ban or Not to Ban: Schools Weigh Cell Phone Policiesby Audrey Watters on Mindshift.

21st Century Teacher

Ran across this list of signs you’re a 21st Century Teacher — love them.  Here are my favorites: (21 Signs You’re a 21st Century Teacher for the full list.)

7. You ask your students to do a character/historical person study…and they create mock social media profiles of their character.

14. You visit the Louvre with your students…and don’t spend a dime.

15. You teach your students not to be bullies…or cyberbullies.

16. You make your students turn in their cell phones before class starts…because you plan on using them in class.

How can you not love these?

Let’s just deal with one in this post:

The argument is often heard that you can’t use cell phones in school because there might be bullying/harrassment. I think we’ve moved well beyond this argument, and it is time for the schools to step up to the plate and teach responsible use of technology. Yup, it must be taught at home, but it HAS to be taught in schools as well.

At our house, we have firm rules about appropriate use of technology tools. Parents have passwords to all social media, email, etc. Texting and phone use is only allowed when appropriate, etc. etc. We certainly talk about how to use technology appropriately in other settings, but the use of mobile in a school setting has such a strong NO connotation to my kids that they won’t have the chance to make mistakes and learn until they are in settings with far greater consequences than a 5th grade classroom with loving, caring guiding adults.