Focusing on reading in the 21st Century

Off to a great year at ISB. I find myself starting our fourth week of school and still standing…which is a good thing. The elementary school is focusing on two content areas this year. Reading and Science. What does reading look like in the year 2008-2009? As I’ve been training students on the new laptops these first couple of weeks I ask them a set of questions that to most probably seem out of context with a focus on reading. How many of you have your own cell phones? (At least 3 in every class 3-5 grade)How many of you have your own laptop? (At least 3 in every class)How many of you have access to the Internet? (100%)How many of you have a Nintendo Wii? (By far the leader in the gaming console category)Play station 3?Play station 2?Nintendo Cube?XBox 360?PSP?DS?GameBoy? By this time most teachers are looking at me like I’m speaking another language. Then it gets really interesting. How many of you play Club Penguin? (About half of every class 2-5)How many of you play Webkinz? (About 30%) The students then get all fired up and start shouting out different websites and games that they love to visit.What does this have to do with reading? Everything! More to...

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Changing Reading Habits

David Jakes took the recent talk around School 2.0 and did a nice mash-up on the techlearning blog. So here is my attempt at characterizing School 2.0, driven by ideas from David, Will, Clarence and Jeff: Unlearning. Relearning. The desire and climate to do both, by all members of the school community in a constant and never-ending self-adjustment dance. Fluid. Moving in a purposeful and positive direction, and with a velocity-never standing still, always in perpetual beta, adapting, with information, conversation, ideas, creativity and contagious energy being delivered via digital tools and networks, all driving the learning experience forward to prepare kids for their world. Now to me and probably most in the blogosphere this sounds pretty cool. But there is a lot in here that I think the average teacher would look at and go “Uh?” How do we learn to be adaptable? How do we adapt education to ‘fit’ (for lack of a better word) into a new model? Mark Ahlness had a great reflective post on Friday on how he is adapting his classroom to meet the needs of his students, his student’s reading habits, and at the same time expanding their knowledge. I’d been thinking lately how my own reading habits had changed in the last couple of years, with the huge increase in blogs, online news, and so on. When was the last time I actually sat down and read a book? The last time I flew back east to see my family. Yikes! I used to feel guilty about this until I took a closer look at the net of my reading. I read so MUCH more now than I ever used to. But it’s a different kind of reading. Teachers tease me a lot and ask, “When was the last time you read a book?” I, like Mark, usually have to ponder, and like Mark find it’s usually a time when I’m disconnected. They usually look at me and laugh and tell me I need to read more books. Why? Before blogging and RSS I hardly read anything outside of a couple of educational magazines. A book? I never read them before the web why would I read them now? Long time readers to this blog know I struggle with reading (and writing) but the Read/Write web engages me in the process…and this post is a perfect example. I read, left comments,...

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