Favorite Readings

Include an introduction to this section. Then provide the title of each reading linked to the actual article. Below each title/link, include a (1) description of the article and (2) ideas on how you will incorporate ideas from the article into your future classroom.

Digital Tools for Digital Kids by Apple Computer

This site highlights benefits of technology use in schools by arguing that today's students are different than those in the past. Today, they are "hypercommunicators," "multitaskers," and "goal oriented" who can "take in and respond to rapidly transmitted sights and sounds." Their consistent and frequent exposure to fast-faced multimedia has affected their neural pathways, creating a different generation of learners. They now need multimedia to fully embrace new learning.
The article includes a table separating "digital natives" (those who grew up digital) from "digital immigrants" (those who grew up speaking "digital as a second language" ("DSL"). Students also know more coming into the classroom which changes the teacher role from information transmitter to facilitator.
The primary argument is that mastering basic skills is not sufficient for teaching 21st century students. "Searching the web, finding copious results, designing databases, concept maps, and spreadsheets, to sift and sort that information into categories, recognizing frequency, trends, and patterns, and then creatively communicating findings to others, mimics the mental work of experts." The goal is to teach using inquiry, collaboration, and virtual means. "Technology proficiency" no longer means knowing the technologies, but how to use them effectively to learn "better, faster, or deeper." They need to "read critically," "speak and write persuasively," "apply mathematical and scientific principles to solve real-world problems," and "weigh current events through the lens of the world's great cultures." This is evidenced with examples from all major subject areas.
The article contends that students using these new methods will be more "successful" and will have greater desires to become lifelong learners. It also uses ACOT data to show that technology use in schools increases student retention in school.

Standards for a Modern World by Cheryl Lemke

Lemke introduces the four clusters of enGauge’s 21st century skills: digital age literacy, inventive thinking, effective communication, and high productivity. She argues that high-stakes testing requires we teach NCLB’s academic standards so we can appease communities we are teaching students using measurable terms. However, educators can still infuse 21st century skills into the curriculum. The argument for use of these skills is based on research stating that:

  • authenticity (“relevancy beyond the school day, deep inquiry into an academic area, and knowledge production using what is learned”) matters;
  • knowledge transfer occurs more from obtaining “understanding sticks” (concepts that allow experts to connect new learning with previous learning) than from learning facts;
  • knowledge construction occurs by linking new and prior knowledge; and,
  • metacognition (“feedback, reflection, and analysis”) leads to increased transference.
She illustrates her point with a lesson intended for 9-12 students on genetically modified foods. The lesson description is followed by a detailed description of how the lesson integrates 21st century skills.

Netwise Teens: Safety, Ethics, and Innovation by Amy Poftak

The online article begins with a description of children today and their seamless use of technologies. It cautions educators who fail to integrate technology into their courses because the technology is a critical part of how students learn. The problem, the article contends, is that there must be a careful balance between including opportunities for students to learn using technology, and ensuring their “safe and responsible behavior.”
The article notes that 98% on schools are wired and that 66% of students ages 6-17 have home access. Children are using their access in a variety of ways including use for educational issues (e.g., research) and personal issues (e.g., finding information about sexual development, trying on new personas in chat rooms). Communication is the primary activity students do online. Regarding safety, 60% of children say “they have been contacted by a stranger online.”
Though they are using the internet, they are not skilled in information literacy skills (knowing what sites are credible). One way for schools to address this issue is by giving assignments requiring students to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate topics – not just report on them. 51% of children “believe that ‘most or all’ the information on the Web can be trusted to be right.” Of these children, 30% have access in private areas of their homes (e.g., their bedrooms) where they do not receive monitoring.
To ensure student safety requires two approaches. First, schools must revisit their AUP (acceptable use policies). The AUPs must ensure that students do have opportunities for access at school (or the students will find access in inappropriate ways), and there must be clear consequences for students failing to follow these policies. Parents must also be aware of the school’s policies. Finally, regarding AUPs, technology definitions must be expanded to include more than just computers.
The article also hints at the digital divide between students from financially strong and poor families and between boys and girls. Poftak argues that girls will engage in more online activities if computers are set in social areas of their homes.