Running with my iTouch

Photo by Meredith_Farmer
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Though some days I feel like I am running around in circles, I have found a way to catch up with my podcasts.

I listen to them while I run!

One has become more meaningful now that I have met one of the podcasters. This morning I tuned into Alex Ragone's and Arvind Grover's EdTechTalk "21st Century Learning," and I was totally able to dissociate from the run and enjoy listening. Alex, a teacher from the Collegiate School in NY, and I met at our PLP's first face to face meeting here on Sept 8. What a pleasure to touch base with another thoughtful teacher from my "network."

At one point in the podcast, one of them mentioned a recent NY Times article and quoted the last lines about the impact of participating in social/educational networks:

Laura Fitton, the social-media consultant, argues that her constant
status updating has made her “a happier person, a calmer person”
because the process of, say, describing a horrid morning at work forces
her to look at it objectively. “It drags you out of your own head,” she
added. In an age of awareness, perhaps the person you see most clearly
is yourself.

This comment resonates with me as it is one of the reasons I worked to include our school in the Powerful Learning Practice year-long professional development opportunity this year. My own learning, both about myself and teaching in general, is enriched by various social media in which I participate. Writing about what it means to prepare our students to work and live online helps me see more clearly and share with others. Participating in Twitter, Nings, and Diigo gives me instant access to what others are thinking about similar issues and "drags me out of my own head."

As we all struggle to define 21 century literacy skills, I often look to my new friend Elizabeth Helfant at MICDS, who articulates her school's vision so well. One of our PLP team goals is to participate fully in our online virtual network, sharing our thoughts about this shift in learning. Elizabeth points to this research:

Early evidence (Labbo, 1996; Labbo & Kuhn, 1998), as well as
logical deduction from current trends, suggests that the new literacies
will be ever more dependent on their social construction than
traditional literacies.  It will be impossible for every child to
become expert in every new technology for information and communication
that appears. As networked information resources become more extensive
and complexly structured, and as ICTs continue to change with some
frequency, no one person can be expected to know everything there is to
know about the technologies of literacy; these technologies will simply
change too quickly and be too extensive to permit any single person to
be literate in them all.  Each of us, however, will know something
useful to others. 

This is why I stay (sometimes it feels like living) online, trying to collaborate and connect. I have the opportunity this year to practice what I've been preaching, and I hope to post more about moving my English 9 class forward with NCTE's Literacy Skills in mind. Perhaps I will be able to share something useful to other English teachers forging ahead toward this exciting but capricious future.

In the meantime, our PLP team is off to a great start this year. I have been watching and hearing about:

Carey's students flying around Google Earth and creating Voice Threads in Spanish
Katie's students discovering that their political blogs aren't really "blogs to nowhere." (Can you lend a hand with a comment?)
Jennifer's students learning to voice their opinions and reflect as they work on a new style of writing.
Susanne's students presenting in AP English using a variety of tools to enhance their learning.

This is an exciting time to be a teacher.

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