Posts Tagged 'web2.0'

Know the feeling

Now I get it all -- all at once! Help!?!

Now I get it all -- all at once! Help!?!

I love this sentiment! It perfectly encapsulates the classroom teacher’s state of mind when faced with the full potential of the read/write web.

The quip belongs to Peter Lane, a California middle school reading and technology teacher.  I stole it from his profile in Classroom 2.0, an online professional network that, if you are a teacher even remotely curious about technology, you must visit!  In fact, Peter’s expression could serve as the tagline for the whole Classroom 2.0 site, which exists, in part, for those “beginners” who seek a “supportive community and a comfortable place to start being part of the digital dialog.”

For his part, Peter is engaging his students in the “digital dialog” using a mix of young adult literature, blogs, and wikis. Take a look at Mr. Lane’s Effective Reading Blog.

From analog girl to “digimom”

My mother thinks I should hang a calendar in the kitchen so my son can learn his days of the weeks and months of the year.

He is two years old.

“Well, maybe not now, but in the next few years you should consider it,” she said.

I told her that in the next few years, I fully expect my son to be able to turn on a computer and launch an Internet browser, much in the same way he can now turn on the TV and even navigate TiVo. At that point, what’s to stop him from accessing the web-based calendar my husband and I currently use to organize work, church, and household events?

“Well, it’s still an analog world,” she said.

No. It isn’t, I say.

I am about to be graduated from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville with a master’s degree in instructional technology. Had the above conversation occurred at another time and place, it likely would have ended differently, with me earnestly shopping for the perfect calendar per Mom’s suggestion.

The 2008 Land of Liberty calendar by Thomas Kincaid looks nice, with the added benefit of exposing my first-born to a bygone era when subtle Christian imagery and blatant patriotism intermingled to form resplendent, light-filled tableaux.

Yechhhh.

If I were going to buy a wall calendar to support my child’s intellectual and cognitive development, I would choose one with more transparent instructional value. How about a calendar that not only reinforces concepts like time management and days of the week but also promotes responsible citizenship, the democratic process, and important mathematical problem-solving strategies, like counting down? A civics lesson on every page!

It is an election year, after all.

The point is, my child is not developmentally ready for a calendar, and in the next few years when he is, paper-based calendars will be even more irrelevant than they are today. I haven’t owned a calendar or date book in close to ten years since the acquisition of my first handheld PDA, and I don’t expect my son will ever have use for one.

Although, I suppose that even by 2010 when he starts Kindergarten, I can count on him seeing and using plenty of analog calendars — at school.

I joke about being “an analog girl in a digital world,” in part because I love the Guy Clark song, but I am serious when it comes to the “unfolding ‘literacy dialectic'” described by Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel in New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Classroom Learning, 2nd edition.

I read New Literacies this spring as part of a semester-long seminar on redefining literacy. The book is largely framed by a “tension” caused by the rapid onset of digital and mobile technologies in daily life and the complex demands this places on teachers and students to merge “old” and “new” literacies — the “dialectic.”

At stake are two divergent worldviews about the role of 21st century information and communication technologies (ICTs) in contemporary culture. Lankshear and Knobel label these worldviews as “mindsets.”

The “newcomer,” or “outsider,” mindset values digital technology for the way it supports old business models and conventional, print-based literacy practices. The “insider” mindset sees opportunity in technology to radically innovate and abandon the business-as-usual approach. The bulk of New Literacies examines insider practices, giving readers a glimpse into the worlds of fanfiction, anime, memes, blogs, podcasts, and mobile computing.

Educators, school leaders, and instructional technologists are struggling to respond to all this change as it relates to the effective integration of technology into classroom learning. More often than not, they “simply end up reproducing familiar conventional literacies through their uses of new technologies” (p. 30).

New Literacies concludes with a challenge to teachers, administrators, and policymakers. Lankshear and Knobel do not advocate unflagging allegiance to wholesale technology adoption that does not honor “insider” sensibilities, nor do they believe schools should be left behind as the exclusive domain of print-based, conventional literacies (p. 259).

Rather, the authors encouraged their readers to just “take a look and see,” to try out the new technologies and experience the new literacies and social practices for ourselves. In doing so, we will begin to understand the implications for teaching and learning. These insights will guide the integration of 21st century ICTs into instruction in a manner that compromises neither the integrity of the cultural practices nor our educational aims (pp. 246-247).

This is my biggest take-away from New Literacies: I don’t have to be a practicing classroom teacher to feel the tension of the mindsets. (Note above conversation between dear, ol’ Mom and me.) The shifts are playing out all around me as I perform in roles as student, parent, and citizen, and I have an obligation to respond.

It’s why I still can’t stop thinking about the Rolling Stone March 20 cover story on Barack Obama’s campaign strategy. It’s a strategy in which the field operations consist of voters organizing themselves with web-based technologies, particularly social networking tools: “In the process, the Obama campaign has shattered the top-down, command-and-control, broadcast-TV model that has dominated American politics since the early 1960s.”

It’s why I helped my babysitter set up a Gmail account and MySpace page so she could stay in contact with her many geographically dispersed cousins. The babysitter, by the way, is a 44-year-old grandmother of three.

It’s why I keep needling my local school board representative to take steps toward re-visioning our school system’s outdated appropriate use and web publishing policies.

It’s why I am determined to master the text-message function on my cell phone. One of these days.

And it’s why I won’t be buying any Hallmark calendars for the rest of my natural life.

What is your favorite online “affinity space”?

Cross-posted at the Classroom 2.0 forum.

An affinity space is any place (virtual or physical) that ties people together based on a mutually shared interest or endeavor.

For me, it would have to be the “mommy” blogs that I read daily. I’ve got about four where I lurk and occasionally comment. I am really inspired by the way these women merge their varying interests in politics, civics, and, of course, technology, with the everyday challenge of parenting. I am even thinking of starting my own mommy blog as the birth of my second child is quickly approaching in mid- to late-June. It’s time to start adding my voice to the conversation, and the lazy days of summer seem like a good time to undertake this project!

What is your favorite online affinity space?

My question is inspired by a book I recently finished reading, New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Classroom Learning by Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel. It was assigned reading for a spring semester seminar on multiliteracies, and it has given me a lot to think about.

The authors’ basic purpose is to shed light on the concept of “new literacies,” and to invite educators into conversation about “how the new might best be brought into a fruitful relationship with the already established.”

The last chapter is a recommendation or challenge of sorts to readers. Lankshear and Knobel think the first step toward merging conventional schooling and the world of new literacies (remix, blogs, podcasts, social networks, mobile technologies, and so on) is for educators to actively pursue firsthand experience with the social practices of digital “affinity spaces,” a term borrowed from James Paul Gee.

I am posing this question to the Classroom 2.0 community as well. Classroom 2.0, an international social network of educators interested in collaborative technologies, certainly is an example of an affinity space. But I was wondering about other virtual “hang outs” enjoyed by CR 2.0 members, places perhaps that are not defined by professional interests and obligations but more by hobbies, passions, or guilty pleasures.

And, if you are an occasional or even accidental reader of this blog, the question probably applies to you, too!

So, reader, where do you participate on the Web when you are not consumed with work, school, business, or other obligations? And do your interactions and exchanges within digital affinity spaces intersect with and inform your views and vision for education?

For more reflections on the challenges and opportunities presented by multiliteracies, read my other posts on New Literacies, mindsets, and mashups.  More to come!

YA Lit 2.0

Cross-posted at the Media Literacy Ning and Classroom 2.0.

This is the last in a series of posts about things we can do in honor of Support Teen Literature Day 2008, which is today, April 17.

In previous entries, I’ve discussed book talks and read-alouds and blog-based literature discussions. These and many other activities are featured at the official teen lit day wiki presented by the Young Adult Library Service Association (YALSA).

The wiki offers more than 30 things to do in celebration of young-adult (YA) fiction. Additionally, the YALSA homepage links to a wealth of YA booklists and professional development opportunities for teachers and librarians.

As I first perused these resources, I was reminded of just how influential YA has been in my own reading life.

And I was also struck by the utter transformation that has occurred within the YA genre since that summer, more than 25 years ago, when I made the profound and life-changing leap from children’s author Beverly Cleary to Judy Blume, the celebrated YA author who wrote Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

For one, the options, in terms of authors and titles, have increased exponentially. The topics and subject matter are also darker and edgier, with more potential for cross-over appeal among adult audiences.

But without a doubt, the most profound change is technology driven. Digital technologies are transforming the very nature of what teens read as well as how they read. From within computer-mediated environments, youth can discuss, nominate, and vote on their favorite new YA titles, participate in surveys, and even chat in real-time with YA authors and readers from around the country.

I remember reading Judy Blume for the first time. I was maybe 10 years old and felt so privileged and so awakened to the fact that books could serve as more than a pleasant diversion from life. Books could also be topical and relevant to my own life and experiences. Wow!

I devoured Blume before moving on to other authors — Betty Miles, Paula Danziger, S.E. Hinton. My favorite, dog-eared books might have been called “feminist fiction for girls,” with female protagonists in various stages of social, emotional, and physical development — all the typical pubescent pangs.

Good stuff. I was engaged, and I stayed engaged until right around the start of high school when I gave up YA almost entirely to take up the “serious reading” of a college-bound student. I did not resume true pleasure reading again until well after college, in my mid-20s.

How much richer my reading life might have been had I had the opportunities that youth have today to connect, communicate, and form communities around favorite titles and authors, to possibly even interact in real-time or asynchronously with the authors themselves.

In the 2006 article YA Lit 2.0: How Technology is Enhancing Pleasure Reading, author Anita Beaman documents the impact of web-based and interactive technologies on how modern teens read for enjoyment.

Citing the work of Eliza Dresang, who in 1999 wrote Radical Change: Books for Youth in a Digital Age, Beaman highlights how books for children and young adults have evolved new formats such as novels in verse, screenplays, multiple narrative perspectives, and graphic novels.

Beaman writes, “It was becoming obvious that the mouse-click generation was going to be looking for something new in print.”

She goes on to present evidence that, contrary to conventional wisdom, adolescents are reading, especially when given opportunities to reach out to authors and other teens in media-rich, interactive environments that include email, blogs, iTunes playlists, and MySpace pages.

This is the new playing field — YA 2.0.

Asserting that “YA Lit 2.0 is a sign that books and reading remain relevant to teens in a digital world,” Beaman concludes with advice to librarians who want to develop programs that are relevant to teen readers: download the playlists, read author blogs, create blogs, visit MySpace, and “share the entire reading experience” with teens.

For Beaman, a high school librarian, the implications are clear: if librarians want to be taken seriously, they must revitalize their programs and immerse themselves in these digital environments, right alongside the teens.

Certainly, any literacy educator would do well to heed this advice.

What do you think?

YA literature and blogs

Cross-posted at the Media Literacy Ning and Classroom 2.0.

This is the second in a series of posts about Support Teen Literature Day 2008, which is April 17.

Sponsored by the Young Adult Library Service Association (YALSA), teen lit day is intended to support librarians in their efforts to raise public awareness about the value of young-adult (YA) fiction, but I think any YA fan will find inspiration among the more than 30 ideas for supporting teen literature listed at YALSA’s wiki.

Suggestion #7 deals with book talks, a topic I took up in yesterday’s post.

I also am intrigued about the tremendous potential behind idea #27: create a YA book discussion blog.

I recently completed a review of the literature on web-based and social media in the secondary language arts classroom. One theme I explored was the pedagogical benefits of using blogs to enhance traditional practices such as writing instruction and literature discussion circles.

There is ample research evidence to suggest that blogs and other web-based media can breathe new life into that tired, old classroom staple known as the book discussion. In a 2003 English Journal article Will Richardson documented his first foray into classroom blogs, which involved students in his Modern American Literature course who were studying a best-selling, contemporary novel The Secret Life of Bees.

Richardson wanted to extend discussions of the novel by giving students time to reflect and comment on classroom activities. To that end, he set up a centralized class blog and asked students to post reflections and add quality comments to others’ reflections as well.

During the project he observed increased motivation and improved close reading of the text by students. The blog provided another dimension of assessment by allowing Richardson to see the extent to which students were following along with oral discussions in class. Ordinarily reticent students opened up and articulated thoughts more easily on the blog.

In a notable departure from literature discussions held in real time and space, blogs make it possible for real-world, authentic audiences to join students in conversation.

Using web space provided by the National Writing Project, Shelbie Witte devised the “Talkback Project,” a collaborative blog in which preservice English teachers and middle school students discussed young adult novels. (See Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, October 2007.)

After a few refinements, the Talkback Project flourished in its second semester, with student effort and collaboration exceeding Witte’s expectations: “The middle school students appreciated the preservice teachers’ thoroughness and the time they were spending to respond to their questions and reflections about the texts.” Word about the program quickly spread, and a father stationed in Iraq began reading the novels and contributing to his son’s weekly blog discussions.

Richardson also reported on the ease with which others outside his Modern American Literature class could engage in conversation with his students. Parents and even the author, Sue Monk Kidd, contributed to the discussions and enriched students’ understanding of the novel. Richardson wrote, “In many ways, the Web logs allowed them to see the work in a real-world context, not just as a classroom exercise.”

Authors and publishers are getting in on the act as well, harnessing Web 2.0 tools and platforms to create interactive environments for YA fans. More on this trend in my next post.

What do you think of supporting literature discussions with blogs?

Support Teen Lit Day 2008

YALSA logo

Cross-posted at the Media Literacy Ning and Fireside Learning.

Support Teen Literature Day, sponsored by the Young Adult Library Service Association (YALSA), is April 17.

From the wiki:

Librarians all across the country are encouraged to participate in Support Teen Literature Day on April 17th, 2008, by hosting events in their library or through their web site on that day. The purpose of this new celebration is to raise awareness among the general public that young adult literature is a vibrant, growing genre with much to offer today’s teens.

Although I am not a librarian, I am a lifelong fan of young-adult (YA) fiction, and I was inspired by the more than 30 suggestions for celebrating Teen Lit Day listed at the wiki. So, for the next several days, I will devote space in this blog to thoughts, ideas, and reflections on YA and how it is being repositioned within the realms of multiliteracies and Web 2.0. (See the YALSA site for a variety of booklists, including “Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers” and “Outstanding Books for the College Bound.”)

One way to celebrate YA — or any book, for that matter — is through a book talk.

A key component of a good book talk is the moment when the presenter reads aloud a passage from the text. In addition to attracting readership in the same way movie trailers attract an audience, read-alouds are a research-based strategy for improving fluency, timing, and expression traditionally used in the primary grades.

In Yellow Brick Roads: Shared and Guided Paths to Reading 4-12, Janet Allen presents an argument for reading aloud to older youth, particularly struggling adolescent readers: “All students, regardless of age, deserve the opportunity to see the story without struggling with the text. . . . For students who struggle with word-by-word reading, experiencing the whole story can finally give them a sense of the wonder and magic of a book.”

YA literature, a genre often credited with capturing the attention of at-risk readers, when coupled with book talks and read-alouds, is a promising avenue by which we might convince youth that print-based texts are as relevant, enjoyable, and interactive as their favorite digital texts and electronic media.

Mr. Swanson, my 4th grade teacher, read to us every day as we ate lunch in the classroom (our school did not have a cafeteria). He read mostly longer selections that would fill the lunch period, and he often read chapter books (a chapter a day). He took student recommendations, too. One kid recommended Harriet the Spy. I ended up checking out that book and The Incredible Journey and reading them on my own after the fact. These experiences fed into a lifelong habit of pleasure reading.

And that’s what I think. What do you think about YA literature, book talks, and read-alouds?

21st century mentoring

I just completed an independent inquiry on the implications of Web 2.0 on mentoring and induction of new and novice teachers. The project spanned two semesters, and I learned a lot.

I am posting the final report in PDF. I also have a companion wiki, which is still in development. Stop by for a visit and tell me what you think!


Archives:

Think on this:

"What if we just ignored the status of students in other countries? That wouldn’t be especially neighborly, but at least we wouldn’t be viewing the gains of children in other lands as a troubling development."

Alfie Kohn


"When I hear people say it's our job to create the 21st century workforce, it scares the hell out of me. Our job is to create 21st-century citizens. We need workers, yes, but we also need scholars, activists, parents -- compassionate, engaged people."

Chris Lehmann

Train of thought:


These are the communities where I network and cross-post. Come by for a visit!
Classroom 2.0
School Matters (East TN, USA)
Media Literacy