Ten years ago I thought that I had rushed happily into the 21st century. I use an iPhone and an iPad. I have figured out how to use the iPod portion of my phone and can download a song while sitting in traffic. I can work off of either a Mac or a PC computer. I have even given up paperbacks for my Nook. Yes, I still scream “Richard” at the first inclination that there is a technology problem, but that makes us both happy. It really does. Heck, I went to ISTE last year. Doesn’t that make me technologically savvy? Doesn’t that make me someone who has moved from being “a child of the sixties” to an “old lady” of this new and exciting century? But last Saturday I was told—right to my face—NO!
On January 8, what I like to refer to as the beginning of my birthday week, Richard and I dragged ourselves out of bed on a beautiful Saturday morning to go to a district technology conference. I was going because I wanted to hear Heidi Hayes Jacobs. I had read her book last year and wanted to hear what she had to say. Richard was going to hear the Colorado folks in the afternoon. I have attended many conferences and ten times that number of workshops, but I don’t remember every being so absolutely challenged to make a change in what I am doing as an educator. Heidi was so strong in her presentation that I am now anxiously writing this blog.
Heidi Hayes Jacobs believes, like I do, that everything that we do must be in the students’ best interest. She also believes that the students should own the learning, a concept that we in ELA have been working with John O’Flahaven on for at least 10 years. She challenged each of us in the audience to learn one new twenty-first century technology tool that we would share with our peers and with students. When I mentioned to my peers that my job does not offer me the time necessary to really learn these tools, Heidi immediately called me out on that idea. “If you have time to buy new shoes, you have time to learn this” burst immediately out of her mouth. I know she is right. I bought new shoes at DSW on Sunday, so that afternoon I sat down and learned how to use livebinders.com. It really did only take moments for me to set it up and create my first binder. I now know how to place web sites in there, but I could use some advice on attaching documents. My new philosophy: If I buy shoes, I learn a new technology tool. If I learn a new tool, I buy new shoes. This is certainly a "win-win."
Using the internet to communicate with one’s peers is also important to Dr. Jacobs. She asked who belonged to a NING. I proudly raised my hand. I have belonged to the English Companion NING (http://englishcompanion.ning.com/) for several years. But I seldom read from it. When I first began, I didn’t see anything new, so I didn’t take the time to really delve into the possibilities. On Sunday I went back to that NING and found many very interesting ideas. I read an archieved book study on Smith and Wilhelm’s book, Fresh Takes on Teaching Literary Elements. It was wonderful to read what the authors had to say about the text. They enhanced and extended many of the ideas they had discussed in the book. I recommend the book and the book study.
Since Saturday morning, I have learned how to use livebinders, read extensively from a NING, and have now figured out how to set up and add to my own blog. Those of you who joined the 21st Century ten years ago are certainly not terribly impressed. I, on the other hand, am excited to be an active member of this new century that is and will continue to be influenced by technology. Next I am going to work with bookglutton.com. Karen Justl sent it to me, and it seems to be the perfect tool to have book club discussions around the world. Maybe I will see you there.