TechnoTeacher Founder and Creative Director, Nicole Ponsford, has just been named as one of the top 30 "Edu-Geeks to Follow on Twitter" by Innovate My School. Congratulations Nic!
We have just had this review shared with us, via our publisher. It is an article from T C Record (http://www.tcrecord.org) and provides a very detailed review of our book. Hope you enjoy it, TechnoTeachers!
Nic and Jules
TechnoTeaching: Taking Practice to the Next Level in a Digital World
reviewed by Caroline R. Pryor
Title: TechnoTeaching: Taking Practice to the Next Level in a Digital World
Search for book at Amazon.com
The 2014 book TechnoTeaching is a refreshing and much needed text. As a social studies professor, whose engagement in her work centers less on ideas for practical applications than investigating theoretical rationales that underlie how particular pedagogies might foster democratic thought, I hesitated to embrace the enthusiasm found in TechnoTeaching. Early in the book's introduction, the authors recognize that the process of acquiring new technical skills can be intimidating, and at times may seem unproductive. Teachers often resist that which appears to be time intensive to learn, or they believe might not provide immediate, user-friendly, or content-rich results for their effort (Pryor & Bitter, 2008). Yet, the authors of this text tenaciously urge the reader on a path from TechNo to TechYes. After reading this book, I have, albeit reluctantly, joined the ranks of those who better understand technology, bot h as a tool and as a framework for communication.
This book is written so clearly that the authors' case for embracing technology and use of portals (such as apps, websites, or blogs) encourage even the less convinced among us to learn to use them. The practical tips and detailed explanation of steps to using these portals provides a non-threatening path, encourages the refinement of current technology skills, and suggests strategies for expanding them.
This book poses two questions. First, will teachers use technology to span global interconnectedness and understandings? And secondly, will teachers take steps to enhance their technology skills for use in future lessons? Teachers do appear to use social media on a personal level (Sumuer, Sezin & Yildirim,2014); however, as they gain technological tips about the vast array of applications, will they use interactive sites to deepen their students' content domain area knowledge and skills? TechnoTeaching is an excellent guide to attaining these elusive goals.
This book offers seven chapters ranging from the more theoretical, integration of technology with best practices for teaching and learning (p.3) to practical chapters on how to plan lessons. The authors are commended for recognizing that technology serves a purpose beyond mere tools of convenience; rather, they write that as teachers develop various levels of skill in planning for their students, technology can become a methodology for linking standards to curricular goals. Broadly, the book helps to answer the following questions:
Three teacher archetypes are presented throughout the book, benchmarks to portray how real teachers might progress in their path to learning about the use of technology. At varying levels of knowledge, these archetypes model the often uncertain progress in the journey to TechnoTeaching. To highlight key points of the hypothetical teachers' learning path, the text provides sidebar notes with helpful tips and advice to guide technical skill development, and offers suggestions for integrating these skills into lessons.
The authors proffer three potential barriers they believe is lacking in teachers' dispositions towards technology use: (a) skills and tools, (b) content, and (c) mindset. However, these three dispositions are not substantiated with references to the literature. Moreover, the description of the teacher archetypes appear exaggerated; however, the overreaching descriptions are well-compensated for by the insightful, detailed plan for self-analysis for. The self-assessment plan is also augmented with suggestions to help teachers identify the development of their skills and knowledge.
Additionally, the section on writing a grant proposal appears not only unconnected to this otherwise helpful book, but the written narrative of the section is also questionable. For example, the authors suggest that teachers ask for more than you need (why budgets require a justification) and to be positive, patient and calm (but how does this help a grant writer?). Perhaps this was just an add-on to attract readers.
The text is easy to read and attractive to those seeking advice on enhancing their use of technology in the classroom. The 'Branching Out: Connecting Locally and Globally' chapter is a highlight of the book. Here, teachers receive guidance on how to begin a broader journey to using media to connect globally. Notable is the description of Harvard's Project Zero, in which media users gain a stronger sense of how place, self, people, and objects of the world become visible through use of technology (p. 131-147). The authors provide tips on use of social media, networks, and global communities to foster a virtual community of teaching practice. Moreover, they explain the importance of this practice by discussing how media can promote sensitivity, understanding, and self-representation. As James Mitchell (in press) writes:
Those who grew up before the rise of social media communicated with their peers differently than do today's P-12 learners. The modalities of teaching 'citizenship' have changed since Myspace, Facebook and the other forms of social media have evolved, and teachers and parents have not kept up with their P-12 learners and children in joining these online communication platforms.
The suggestion that technology might provide a portal for interconnected social thought, and a more global path to sharing democratic ideas and practice, prompts me to re-read TechnoTeaching and return to the planning and revisions I might make in my own university classes.
Pryor, C. R., & Bitter, G. G. (2008). Using multimedia to teach inservice teachers: Impacts on learning, application, and retention. Computers in Human Behavior, 24(6), 2668-2681.
Mitchell, J. (in press). There's an app for that in citizenship education. Learning for Democracy: A Journal of Thought and Practice.
Sumuer, E., Esfer, S., & Yildirim, S. (2014). Teachers' Facebook use: their use habits, intensity, self-disclosure, privacy settings, and activities on Facebook.Educational Studies, 40(5), 537-553.
Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, 2015,
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17887, Date Accessed: 3/9/2015 11:58:44 AM
This just in. Ami Albernaz, in her article, “Attention Seeking Devices,” for the Boston Globe says:
“Whether you’re wanting to finish that one quick e-mail, set up a play date, or read the newspaper, it all looks like you are doing the same thing – staring at your phone and ignoring them [your children].”’
Right. The seduction of mobile devices. And children who want to talk and play—generally have fun at home or when they’re out and about with you doing errands, grocery shopping, or driving to visit grandparents—want more than your presence. They want you to truly be present. In fact, children’s brains are wired to seek attention from their parents.
The tension between children and parents is obvious as we become more and more glued to our phones, tablets, and other devices, according to Dr. Jenny Radesky. Vocal children will often speak up and demand that you “listen to meeee!” But more shy children may simply withdraw. And all children would rather that we were interacting with them, rather with Siri, someone at the office, or Huffington Post. After all, children look to us to help gauge their response to new situations and events. As Dr. Radesky explains, they want their parents to be there to help them navigate the world. If parents are overly distracted, children may become anxious.
Albernaz summarizes the tension this way:
“Of course, parents have always had to multitask and split their attention But mobile devices seem to exert a unique pull. There’s always the possibility some juicy bit of news is waiting, or one important e-mail, or one more work task to be knocked off the list.”
Right. It’s hard. I’ve sometimes been drawn into the “juicy bit of news” when I’d really rather be sharing a book with a child or teaching him how to make scrambled eggs. I need to press the pause button and remind myself that real life is much more vital than the virtual world many of us live in. “Technology is a better servant than master,” as happiness author Gretchen Rubin points out.
What do you do?
Have you figured out a good strategy for curbing your own online behavior/letting work have access to you 24:7? Have you set up guidelines for yourself or as a family (as in, no smart phones at the dinner table)? If so, how’s it working? Write to us and let us know! We’d love to hear from you!
Did you know that that the USA’s National Poetry Month, arguably the world’s largest literary celebration, kicked off on April 1st? Luckily it’s not too late to join the schools, publishers, libraries and booksellers that aim to poetry alive, and lively, in today’s culture.
If you’re a teacher who thinks poetry just isn’t your jam, I would say that you just haven’t found the right poets. Or the right poems.
Perhaps you felt intimidated when you learned about poetry in school—all those stanzas and trying to remember the difference between a sonnet and a villanelle; meter and symbolism. Don’t fret. Today we have a wealth of digital resources to help bring poetry to life for young people. You just need a sincere interest in literature and an open mind. I say this as a former fourth grade teacher who was not especially well-versed in poetry in college, but plunged in anyway with haiku, cinquain, and free verse. It was my students’ enthusiasm for poetry, along with their imaginative writing, that won me over.
Where are these resources?
Well, you can sign up with the Academy of American Poets to receive a poem every day. You can also help your teens and tweens participate in the Dear Poet Project, a multimedia experience that draws students into poetry.
If you live in the US, you can participate in a Poem in Your Pocket Day. On this day people carry around a poem with them and then share it in a public space. (If you’re not in the US, why not start your own local tradition?)
Still feeling stuck? Take a glance at “Thirty Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month,” also available through National Poetry Month. Or try this free resource for teachers written by a teacher.
My own interest in poetry was heightened by a recent experience I had in honoring the memory of Seamus Heaney, an Irish poet who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. For many years I had the good fortune of being present when he read his poetry aloud at various events at Harvard (Nic and many other Brits are in total awe of this!). At that time he was working on a Beowulf: A New Translation and a book of poetry called The Spirit Level. These events were always charged with electricity and goodwill. Heaney would often stand on a chair and read a poem, while others “readied the spirits” to be passed around. (Note: This was back before the University tightened up the rules about serving alcohol on campus.)
I was reminded of these special events last weekend when I attended a ceremony in Heaney’s honor. The rooms he stayed in, when he was a visiting professor, at Harvard are now named after him; they will be available to students as a quiet place to think and write. For the Heaney fans among you, here is a write-up of the event along with photos of this rooms, which are decorated with framed photographs and a few of his most popular poems.
I’d like to leave you with one of my favorite snatches of poetry from Heaney’s poem, “Digging”, an appreciation of his father and the rhythms he created when digging potatoes: “…Stooping in rhythm through the potato drills/Where he was digging.”
The author has “no spade” for following in his father’s footsteps. He is a writer.
“Beneath my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.“
What poems will you share with your students? How will you spark their creativity? How will you show them how to “dig” with their pens (or keyboards)? We would love to hear from you!
I was reading an article this week and it referred to “FOMO”. As a TechnoTeacher, I was keen to found out more about this 21st century phrase.
FOMO = the Fear Of Missing Out.
In terms of being addicted to social media, FOMO is the reason that so many of us stay plugged in, according to an article by Przybylski, A.K., Murayama, K., DeHaan, C.R., & Gladwell, V (2013). tIn ‘Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out’, the authors discuss the dual nature of being connected and engaged with social media. In this piece, they create and evaluate a self-report measure for FOMO and explore how FOMO links to our needs and our relationship with social media. This relationship between our ‘fears’ and looking at social media as entertainment alone made me think. How harmful it is really to want to stay connected? Should we be checking our online habits as a matter or urgency?
Question: To those of you out there who don’t really post status updates, share links or get involved in discussions, why are you online and visiting social media sites? To those of us who constantly check our devices and share our lives online, why are we bothering?
The answer is that you, and most of us, don’t want to miss out. We want to be relevant. We need to join the party. (PS Please watch this viral video about what happens if you left a real party like people leave Facebook - hilarious!).
This quote from Sam (played by Emma Stone) to her Dad in the Oscar-winning movie Birdman (2014, Dir:Alejandro G. Iñárritu) seems to sum it up nicely. Sam says,
“You hate bloggers. You mock Twitter. You don’t even have a Facebook page. You’re the one who doesn’t exist. You’re doing this because you’re scared to death, like the rest of us, that you don’t matter and, you know what, you’re right.”
Sam is on to something. There is a real modern-day fear that being online helps us to “matter”. To have a presence and exist, in either real or constructed worlds. We need to ‘be’ at the party, to be invited and be mentioned afterwards. We fear the idea of missing out.
I, like many of you, love wasting time online. Being able to connect with a friend (in real time) who lives on the other side of the globe is still a buzz for me. I love reading funny parenting and tech blogs, being judgmental of my ‘friends’ posts and do most of my work online. I feel that being online means I do not miss my friends as much - as I can reach out to Spain, the USA or Australia anytime I like, all from my little village in the UK. We can be in constant contact and really seize every day when it comes to tech. We can be involved in global webinars (I did a Harvard one this week), email anyone with an @ address and join in the conversation by literally adding our ‘comments’ all over the world wide web.
But I also wonder whether the idea of YOLO (You Only Live Once) is at the heart of FOMO. By this I mean the carpe diem nature of YOLO means that many users chuck all aspects of their life online. ’No filter for us -YOLO! ‘. ‘Look what we are doing - YOLO!’ .’This is what I think - YOLO!’ But once we have posted an image or comment online, it is there forever, and for longer than that moment. It is there for a lifetime.
As I have written previously, many people (including people I know - responsible adults and parents) upload and (over) share what matters in their lives - weddings, babies, milestones and ‘good’ nights out. Also relationship breakups, private images of their children and offensive campaign memes. By sharing these personal messages online, we basically show off unedited moments of our lives for others to judge. We don’t want to miss out. And we don’t want our followers to either. Our lives matter so much that everyone must want to be involved with all aspects, right?
My concern is that once posted these ‘updates’ are rarely private. Once they are online, they are there forever. We are creating a digital footprint for others to see. Family and friends can see those cute baby milestones and funny drunken nights, but so can others who will search for us in the future, meaning future employers and future bullies.
The posts that matter to us right now (YOLO) and our FOMO could mean that we have lost our perspective. We don’t really see how we are presenting both ourselves and those we are responsible for.
So back to FOMO = ‘What about you?’ I hear you ask, When it comes to FOMO, I am as bad as my students for checking my “me-machine” (taken from Joshua Ferris’ novel, To Rise Again. I spend too long checking my iPhone for notifications, reading articles often for the comments, and love watching Jimmy Fallon YouTube uploads. However, unlike many teens, not everything that I have done is online. Luckily for me Facebook hadn’t been invented yet. I was unable to document my frequent falls from grace at uni for all the world to see. Because I came of age in a pre-digital era, my digital footprint isn’t too bad.
I have ‘used’ the internet for work and therefore my digital footprint online is mainly about my work. If you Google me (as I did in the name of research), the first four pages of 35,000 items are (mainly) about me and my work. I have I have moderated and assessed exam work online. I even managed to write a book online. I write for lots of publications and have a large digital footprint that is mainly professional (as I am in the biz). And although I chat with friends and relatives online, this is all done through private and secure apps/sites.
Ultimately I have created two constructed online versions of myself, one for friends and family (mainly on private sites), and the other for work.
For me, being online is not due to the FOMO (or so I tell myself). It is a means to an end as an online writer. I am aware of my online footprint and how I use social media, but I wonder who else is this aware. Is becoming aware the next step in our online evolution? We have the Internet. Now we need to make sure it works for us rather than against us. We need to control the Internet as well as our need to be on it.
That’s why this group of teens decided to go offline, to challenge why they liked being online so much. Could they do without it and go ‘cold turkey’? These Year 11 students from Hackney, London reported it as part of the BBC Schools Report. Have a read and I will wait for you.
One student said, “As we shut off our devices, I already felt as if I had lost a limb. I then had to think what I would do with the extra time I had which I would have spent 'wasting' on social media sites.”
How many of you out there would feel the same?
Another student remarked, “I also learnt that taking a little break away from all the mainstream chaos did me good. Although I felt disconnected for a while, I ultimately felt more secure with myself because now I didn't have to impress anyone or be jealous of anything online.”
This student’s choice of the word ‘chaos’ is very interesting. We do all feel part of the Facebook party (see video above) but also we can ‘quit at any time’… But can we?
Part of FOMO is that being online allows us to connect with others. We are never alone. We receive attention and immediate responses from people who matter to us in the most positive sense of being online. These two statements by the teens illustrate how the need to be respected and loved manifests itself through compulsive social networking activity. Although this is great, I do feel that we need to be aware of the darker side of participating online. By that I mean trolling, cyber-bullying, the digital footprints we create and that not everyone online shares our joy with us.
Therefore I have two conclusions.
1. The things that matter to us should only be shared with those who matter to us.
2. If we stopped calling our devices phones and tablets, and ‘me-machines’ instead ,we might start to realise what we do online is more about us than others. Sometimes we don’t think about the consequences of being online and what we say - what the impact is on others and even ourselves/our future.
So, I leave you reader with these questions:
I would love to hear your responses!
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This is where Jules and Nic will post articles, links to interesting sites and things that we think our TechnoTeachers will like.