“But technology such as text messaging and chatting online has created new challenges for teachers and parents, especially when it comes to encouraging children's reading and writing skills and preparing them for future jobs.”
Isn’t it wonderful that new challenges happen every day? Isn’t that how we grow as learners? Hopefully soon technology won’t be something new in the classroom and will be the norm instead. As I worked with employers to prepare my students for future jobs, all of them said that computer skills were vital whether it was in auto mechanics or working in an office. Employers have been saying this for years and employers are using tools such as Second Life and online chats.
“But regardless of how we communicate today -- or 10 years from now -- basic reading skills will continue to be the foundation for student success in school and in the workplace.”
This is absolutely true but we need to look at how we are teaching students these basic reading skills. We need to show students the relevance of learning these basic reading skills. I still hear of young children reading Dick and Jane books (which I learned to read with almost 50 years ago). Wouldn’t it be better if we teach them to make up their own stories and read their own words because this would show them that reading is a way of communicating and sharing ideas? I wish I had all the opportunities learning to read that students have today. If we have all these opportunities, why aren’t teachers taking advantage of them?
“Books are still the key to developing reading proficiency. The teacher is the most valuable resource in the classroom, and when you equip that teacher with up-to-date textbooks, the combination is unbeatable.”
I think books are great and I am an avid book reader but I disagree with this because I don’t think textbooks are the essential tool in the classroom. In fact, I have taught many classes without a textbook because the textbook almost becomes a crutch. I would rather start with the objectives that need to be taught and find materials that will engage and interest the students in learning to master those objectives. By making learning meaningful and relevant, students will learn and remember the knowledge more than just reading a textbook. I don’t feel that textbooks make students invest anything in them and the knowledge is just pushed out of the book with hopes that a student will pull it in their minds. If students can take information and create something of their own with this knowledge, they are actually pushing their new knowledge out and this is what will help them remember this new knowledge. It is more active learning where reading a textbook is more passive learning.
“But we also need to meet students where they are; and while many of us may find new technology intimidating, it's the key to reaching today's students.”
I agree with this statement but it is almost a contradiction to what she says about the importance of textbooks. If technology is the key, then we need to move away from textbook learning and using textbooks as supplemental materials.
“School districts and the state should do everything they can to assist teachers in incorporating new technology as classroom tools that help build proficiency.”
We need to be saying this over and over until it is incorporated in every district. We need to get legislators on board with this also because I have talked with many legislators who don’t even know how to do email. When I talk about technology with some of them, their eyes glaze over or they have this look of fear cross their face. I have helped one state senator actually set up a blog because I was telling him about the power of blogging. Once he tried it, he loved it and realized what this could mean for students in the classroom. I don’t know that there was an immediate impact on education by doing this but if something comes up about technology in the classroom, I hope that this will influence him in any decision making about technology in the classroom. Just like I have said about changing one teacher at a time, maybe we should try changing one legislator at a time too.
What do you think? Am I off track here? Feel free to comment about this.
Photo credit: Reading by Maxey