It was a big week here at EdGeeks! Be sure to visit EdVoices.com and check out my piece: How to Teach Students About Digital Identity. Do you have other resources for teaching students about digital identity and citizenship? Share them by leaving a comment at EdVoices.
Digital Disruption is a new project that is helping educators (and parents) teach teens and tweens about digital identity and citizenship. The project is based in London, but their site offers a ton of free resources that US teachers and parents can use on this side of the pond:)
Adora Svitak’s TED Talk truly inspired me. It is so refreshing to hear about education and learning from the perspective of a young student. She is speaking at the Penny Conference in NYC this April and I will be there! I am also loving Adora’s new project/site, Write With Adora, in which she curates and shares remarkable writing from our youth.
Check out this new and amazing resource developed by the faculty at Bankstreet College of Education! It is a super affordable and easily accessible tool for parents and teachers to help children and teens find appropriate and interesting books!
Earlier this week, a parent sent me an article that really struck a chord in me and I just had to write about it. The letter in the article was very powerful and it made me reflect on a repeated experience that I have encountered over the past few months.
This week, I received an email from a parent. The email contained a link to this article: “A Test You Need to Fail’: A Teacher’s Open Letter to Her 8th Grade Students.” Firstly, I want you to take a few minutes to read the letter.
Okay, now that I have your attention…
For the most part, I try to keep my opinions about test-prep and teacher politics out of my blog, but this letter really hit a soft spot. I want to share about an experience that I have dealt with repeatedly over the past few months. So much of teaching has become test prep, and so much of test prep has become what I call, “In the passage, it says…”
I have been working with a lot of students who have been taught to write, “In the passage, it says…,” in every long response question. When I ask them if they can phrase it in a different way, their response is often, “but my teacher wants me to say it like that!” This worries me for a few reasons.
I have been in a variety of classrooms where test-prep needed to happen. It is so tempting to teach students to use lines like, “In the passage, it says…,” or “According to the article,” because many of us are told that it is a surefire way to get kids to add 2 details and raise their score. BUT, we need to remind ourselves that being able to regurgitate a line like, “In the passage it says,” does not make our kids strong readers and writers. In fact, it often persuades students that they don’t need to think, they just need to underline two parts of the text. This is what can end up happening…
Question taken from NYS ELA Book 3, 2010
How does the girl in “Butterfly House” feel at the end of the passage? Why does she feel that way? Use details from the passage to support your answer.
In the passage it says, “We carried out the box and raised the lid.” In the passage it also says, “I watched her falter as she felt the first warm touch of sun, saw trees, felt breezes brush across her wings.”
Note: This response demonstrates that the student can find and copy two sentences from the text, but this response does not answer the question. Too many times, I see kids become so focused on underlining and copying their 2 quotes, that they forget to think about what the question is actually asking and offer a response that makes sense.
For those of you who say to me, “But we need to do test prep even though we don’t want to”…I hear you!
Here Are Some Things We Can Do
It is okay to teach students how to refer back to a line from the text so they can offer strong evidence to prove a point. This is a skill they will need in the future. Using text evidence can make a reader’s opinion stronger!
It is NOT okay to teach students that every time they see a question that says, “use details from the text,” to start their sentence with, “In the passage, it says.”
Bankstreet College of Education offers a grant called The Innova Grant to encourage new and innovative ideas from their faculty. One of the 2011 proposals was to generate a comprehensive reading list by grade level that would be easily accessible for parents and educators. Lisa Von Drasek (Bank Street’s Children’s Librarian), Jeannie Crowley (Manager of Digital Media and Learning) and their team over at Bankstreet have created exactly that and it is now available as an eBook.
The best part? It costs $2.99!
Why is This Such a Big Deal?
Simple…It is easily accessible and quite affordable! This is a cheap and easy resource for parents, family members, teachers and anyone else who may be interested in children’s literature to decide which books to read with their children/students of ALL ages. If you ask me, all principals and school leaders should have a copy of this available for their teachers as a resource for library design. As a teacher, I would have this book available at Parent-Teacher conferences as a resource to guide them towards appropriate materials for reading with their children at home.
A special thanks to my new friend Zach for pointing this out to me…This is such a dreamy resource!Learn more about this project here.
Check Out These Words of Wisdom…
Who is This Genius?
The quotes above were taken from a TED Talk by a teenager, published author and youth activist by the name of Adora Svitak. If she doesn’t make you want to attend the Penny Conference…I don’t know what will. This remarkable young started a blog called “Write With Adora,” an online youth literary magazine. Children are encouraged to submit writing to the site which is curated by Adora herself.
Adora, thank you for speaking out on behalf of kids everywhere. As a teacher, learner and childish adult…I am completely in awe of both your mission and your sensational imagination. I am amped up to hear you speak at the Penny Conference!
If you have 8 minutes, check out Adora’s TED Talk, it’s amazing!
At SxSWedu, I went to a session by Jac de Haan (TechWithIntent.com) and Ted Kalmus (Head of School, Billings Middle School) called TheirSpace: Educating Digitally Ethical Teens. The session opened my eyes to the issue of digital citizenship and put words to what I had been thinking for a long time…kids need to be taught how to navigate the Internet responsibly and how to develop a dital identity that is age-appropriate.
What is Digital Disruption All About?
Recently, someone pointed me in the direction of a great resource that is being developed to target this issue. The project is called Digital Disruption and it is presented by Bold Creative, a digital agency based in London. This team working on this project takes our youth seriously, and as an educator I really appreciate that. The voice of our youth is underrepresented in many of the conversations we are having in education today, but for Digital Disruption, the voices of our youth are at the core of the conversation. Teachers are also very much a part of the development of digital disruption and they are always looking for more teacher feedback. (If you are using Digital Disruption curriculum in your classroom, offer feedback by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.)
What Does Digital Disruption Offer?
The Future of Digital Disruption:
Digital Disruption has done something truly unique with this project – they have asked young people to help us understand how to leverage their interests so that we can better teach them the lessons that are important for our youth today. Digital Disruption is in its early stage and has great plans for the future including (but not limited to):
I’m looking forward to following this project. I wish I was still in the classroom, this would definitely make the top of my list for advisory! If you are a teacher in the U.S. who is interested in getting involved, contact me as I’d love to hear about how this project is making waves in the classroom.
This has been such a fun week of writing at EdGeeks. I am all about balance and I was feeling myself getting lost in technology, but its great to feel at home again writing about all strategies, tips and tools (regardless of high-tech, low-tech or no-tech) that support learning!
Recently I wrote a piece for EdVoices.com that is near and dear to my heart. DisconnectED – The Disconnect between Educational Technology and Educators. Make sure to stop by EdVoices and leave a comment or share the piece with your friends.
Subtitles are comforting for many readers because they help readers navigate a text to find important information. We can teach students how to create subtitles when they don’t exist as a strategy to help them find crucial information.
Help your kids tackle graphing questions by teaching them to extend the graph. Avoid the age-old mistake featured in this post!
A fourth grader recently recommended a book to me and after a little research, I found out that the book belongs to a series called Basher Books, which aims to breathe life into topics that are often taught in a dull way. A special thanks to my fourth grade friend for the inspiration!