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Beyond Books?


Edu-tech guru Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach offers a fascinatingly personal post on how technology and cultural factors have affected reading styles. The upshot, in her view, is that we need to get over books as they are traditionally conceived:

We need to understand that in a changing world, education can no longer stand still. If we want to remain relevant in the lives of our learners then we will need to use strategies and materials that fit their learning styles, not our own. Techno-constructivist methodology is the educational language today's learners understand and respond to best. Help provide opportunities for them to read challenging, rich, descriptive language and the classic authors we all love in venues that allow for active engagement and full involvement. I predict that when classrooms change to engage students in the reading process we will see that same sense of wonderment toward reading in kids today that we saw in students of classes gone by, the love of reading and learning is still there, it just needs to be captured through more modern techniques. We need to reinvent the book.

I agree with you. There are too many students in our classes that are not at all interested in learning. We, as teachers, need to find ways to engage them in the education process. For many, that means going "beyond books" and finding alternative ways to make the information appealing to them.

Yes techno-constructivism is the way to a student's heart. The new breed (the "Millenials") coming into the profession will be the champions of this new pedagogy. And we, the Gen X administrators, must allow them to teach as they see fit; provide them with a steady stream of money to keep the technology up to date and relevant, provide them with support for experimentation, and provide them with encouragement to battle the veterans who hobble along crying out for the old way. I would love to see a district embrace the new world by purchasing something as simple as some Kindles for their staff to experiment with and use with their students. Bottom line: the revolution will start with those who have the power to fund it - the superintendents and boards of education.


Thanks for your insight. I would love to hear about some of your (or others) ideas for engaging students. Please share.



You are spot on! I have often said administrators seem to be MIA in all of this change. We need to make a pointed effort to help them understand the change that is needed.

Thanks for bringing this to light. Have you had much success in your own district with implementing change?

I have had success with bringing change. I am fortunate enough to serve as a co-internal coordinator for our school's AFG (Accreditation for Growth) process. AFG is a process of setting two or three student achievement goals over a seven year period. You can visit the Middle States Accreditation website for more information. One of our goals is to have all students use digital projects across the curriculum. This means using blogs, wikis, website building, podcasting, and other mediums as tools for demonstrating sythesis.

We have constructed a team of teachers who are committed to learning these skills, infusing them into their classrooms and practices. Although our IT person is bright and very skilled at getting tech tools into our district, he is old fashioned; firewalls and restrictions keep us from advancing. But I have adopted the "seek forgiveness, not permission" attitude. I am asking our younger teachers to go ahead and build blogs and wikis in spite of the opposition from our central office administration. We know it is the way of the future, we want to start now.

Our seven year plan is quite extensive and will be successful because we have a core (dare I say subversive) team of teachers who know we can not continue to do business as usual. The best way for me to lead the change is to lie the change. I blog regularly and will soon be creating a series of podcasts with a students who is from eastern Europe who survived and escaped from the wars of the 90's. His story and our podcast with demonstrate the need for sharing in this medium and, hopefully, inspire teachers to do the same. I am an Assistant Principal, but an educational leader first. I take that seriously.

Mike, can I teach at your school? Seriously, can I?

What you've got going there sounds like a definite step in the right direction and although it's probably "unethical" to say it, the "forgivness, not permission" approach seems to be the only way to get anything done.

I personally have been emphasizing the changing face of media in my journalism class, rather than simply focus on writing copy. I'll be doing some of the same things during my features unit--blogging, discussions, and taking the class more online in an effort to show how the written word (or at least, in my case, the media) affects our everyday lives. Then, they'll write human interest stories or something ;).

Tom you can come teach at my school anytime. Glad to hear you are creating journalists for the new century. I laugh at traditional paper-based newspapers in schools. Those kinds of journalism teachers should study the origins of websites like politico.com. Speaking of "my school", someday I hope to open a charter. I want it to be built with these ideas in mind: http://nlcommunities.com/communities/michaelparent/archive/2007/12/03/158318.aspx

Do me a favor, send me your skype or email info.

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Recent Comments

  • Mike Parent: Tom you can come teach at my school anytime. Glad read more
  • Tom Panarese: Mike, can I teach at your school? Seriously, can I? read more
  • Mike Parent: I have had success with bringing change. I am fortunate read more
  • Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach: Mandy, Thanks for your insight. I would love to hear read more
  • Mike Parent: Yes techno-constructivism is the way to a student's heart. The read more




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