Annotated Bibliography of the Murdock-Thompson Summer
Fellowship Research for Full-Length Works

by John Kendall

 

Books Read

            1) Andrew Keen, Digital Vertigo: How Today's Online Social Revolution is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us, St. Martin's Press, NY, 2012  (4 pages of typed reading notes)

 

            Although deeply enmeshed in 21st century technology, Keen ultimately seems cautious of blindly swallowing it whole.  Whether through ironic Tweets like  "I UPDATE THEREFORE I AM" (12) or making symmetrical but opposing observations like "We are becoming schizophrenic—simultaneously detached from the world and yet jarringly ubiquitous," (14) Keen looks wide and deep at how the internet in general and social networking in particular have changed our culture.

 

            Keen often provides vivid imagery, such as David Carr's observation that  "Mass externalization of thought creates hive mind." (52)

 

            He refers to John Dewey pointing out that our "personalities are neither as rationally self-interested, quantifiable or fixed as Zuckerburg" believes.  Rather than "something complete, perfect, finished, an organized whole of parts united by the impress of a comprehensive form," our individual identity, Dewey argued, is actually "something moving, changing, discrete and above all initiating instead of final." (footnote 83 on p. 215)

 

Keen interviewed Neuroscientist Susan Greenfield: "My fear is that these technologies are infantilizing the brain into the state of small children who are attracted by buzzing noises and bright lights who have a small attention span and how live for the moment." (p. 216, footnote 21, "Social Websites Harm Children's Brains: Chilling Warning to Parents from Top Neuroscientist," London Mail, long web address in book)

 

Keen spends a lot of time defending the importance of individuals and privacy.  He cites Charles Fried: "privacy is intimately bound up with respect, love, friendship and trust." (141)  Zadie Smith also keeps coming back to this: "I am dreaming of a Web that caters to a person who no longer exists.  A private person, a person who is a mystery, to the world and—which is more important—to herself.  Person as mystery: This idea of personhood is certainly challenging, perhaps has already changed." (New Yorker review of The Social Network)

He notes how Gary Shteyngart theorizes what the near future will be like, in his novel,

 Super Sad True Love Story and his characters' use of a ubiquitous device known as the "Apparat." (152)  Keen warns "We won't own the apparat—it will own us."  (153).

 

            The author spends a lot of time with the concepts of social networking, specifically Facebook, and points out Dunbar's Number, a theory that we can only keep track of up to 150 individuals in any real, meaningful sense of "friendship. (175) " 

 

            Jonathan Franzen's movie review of The Social Network also provides a lot of perspective on social networking:  "There is no such thing as a person whose real self you like every particle of.  This is why a world of liking is ultimately a lie.  But there is such a thing as a person whose real self you love every particle of.  And this is why love is such an existential threat to the techno-consumerist order; it exposes the lie." (p. 231, footnote 61: "Liking is for Cowards.  Go for What Hurts," Jonathan Franzen, The NY Times, May 28, 2011).

 

Significant single sentences by Keen and other authorities:

¥ "Sharing has become the new religion" (17)

¥ He cites Walter Kirn's imagery of "Little Brothers" (vs. Big Brother)  "a vast cohort of prankish Little Brothers equipped with devices that Orwell, writing 60 years ago, never dreamed of and who are loyal to no organized authority" (p. 211 of footnotes, footnote # 5, "Little Brother is Watching")

            ¥ "The problem is more cultural than technological." (55)

            ¥ Sherry Turkle: Perpetual networking is undermining many parents' relationships with their children" (67)  Turkle claimed that teens stopped using e-mail and voice-to-voice phones because they were "too intimate."

            ¥ Zadie Smith: "To ourselves, we are special people, documented in wonderful photos, and it also happens that we buy things . . .  To the advertisers, we are our capacity to buy, attached to a few personal, relevant photos." (79) (footnote 62 on page 219, "Generation Why." see my annotation of her review and observations in the articles annotation section)

            ¥ William Gibson: "The future is already here.  It's just unevenly distributed." (149)

            ¥ Prof. Dunbar:  "What keeps a community together is a sense of mutual obligation and reciprocity." (177)

            ¥ John Stuart Mill: "Remaining human required us to sometimes disconnect from society, to remain private, autonomous and secretive." (192)

 

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            2) Oppenheimer, Todd, The Flickering Mind: The False Promise of Technology in the Classroom and How Learning Can Be Saved, Random House, NY, 2003 (8 pages of typed reading notes)

 

            The author sets the tone with Thomas Edison's 1922 prediction that "The motion picture is destined to revolutionize our educational system, and that in a few years it will supplant largely, if not entirely, the use of textbooks." (3), then continues with similar predictions, such as in 1945, the portable radio receiver; in 1968, LBJ's vision of educational TV (4-5), and in 1995, President Clinton's bridge to the 21st century using computers (6). 

 

            Oppenheimer comes off as an anti-technology advocate of sorts, but he also spent five years gathering research, visited a lot of schools and clearly respects good teachers and schools, so he brought some different perspectives.  I was biting my tongue when he expressed a low view of Seymour Papert and the LOGO programming language, but he also offered some challenges, here and there, such as "There is an uncomfortable truth in this history: education is an institution dominated by the pressures of mediocrity," which he likened to Churchill's observation that "democracy was the worst form of government, except for all the other ones." (24)

 

            He warns about "upgrade frenzy," and I hope his case history of the Palm Pilots in 2001 is not a cautionary tale for iPads a decade later. (113-114).

 

            New Technology High School is big on project-based learning.  I photocopied the footnote on page 149 with the background on Thomas Dewey for Steve Duffy. 

 

            189      NY Times book reviewer, of Lester's The Productive Edge (1998): "Among the greater ironies of the computer age is the fact that information is cheap and accessible, and so longer very valuable.  What is valuable is what one does with it.  [my emphasis]  And human imagination cannot be mechanized."  ("Get to Work!" by Jeff Madrick, NYT Book Review, June 28, 1998, p. 17)

 

            Jane Healey's Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children's Minds—for Better and Worse (Simon and Schuster, 1998, p. 212) studies video games vs. kids physically playing at recess, which "teaches children how to pretend, which in turn develops the imagination." (200) Healey urges caution: "A prudent society controls its own infatuation with 'progress' when planning for its young. Unproven technologies . . .  may offer lively visions, but they can also be detrimental to the development of the young plastic brain.  The cerebral cortex is a wondrously well-buffered mechanism that can withstand a good bit of well-intentioned bungling.  Yet there is a point at which fundamental neural substrates for reasoning may be jeopardized for children who lack proper physical, intellectual, or emotional nurturance.  Childhood—and the brain—have their own imperatives.  In development, missed opportunities may be difficult to recapture." (Endangered Minds, pp. 326, 329, and 345)

 

            Oppenheimer contrasts the negative view he often takes towards technology with more humanistic visions, such as Harold and the Purple Crayon, which reveals  "the uncluttered path to the imagination" (208)

            "There's just little Harold in his pajamas, heading out on an ordinary night to draw a line that runs on forever, a line that forms a moon to light his steps and a path to walk on and nine kinds of pies to eat—as if one well-worn, stubby crayon could allow you to dream up a whole universe.  Which of course it can."  ("Beyond the Finger Paint," by Deborah Solomon.  The NYT Book Review, May 17, 1998. p. 24)

 

            I enjoyed several of his lengthy case histories of schools like Urban Academy (319), an alternative school on East 67th Street in New York City or the Waldorf School (365).  At Urban, Herb Mack notes, "Individual needs, not institutional needs, drive this school." In Avram Barlowe's NYC history class, "Our concern is 'What are their crap-detector skills?'" (324) 

Two  reasons Urban students are so attentive:  1) they'd become partners ("stake holders") and 2) the odds are good something interesting and different will usually happen soon. (328)  Barlowe

teaches habits of inquiry, "the capacity to dig into any subject as if one were a professional investigator." (330)

 

            I liked Tom Synder's key question for any software: "Does the computer actually contribute to having conversation?" (343)  Snyder felt that learning remains largely a linear process  and would tell the story of the man with the TV remote who kept changing channels.  "He clicks whenever something complex comes on," says his girlfriend.  Snyder didn't want a generation of students who leave ideas because they are too complex." (344)

 

            Anna Switzer, P.S. 234's principal, is an advocate of constructivism w. more teacher guidance.  She is discouraged at computers, with "the reality of their possibilities. . .  I have huge concerns about the student as consumer.  In almost every class, someone gives me 50 pages from the Internet that no one want to read."    "Kids should be producers of knowledge, not just consumers." (353)

 

            At the Harbor Middle School, near Boston, for their Parks research project, teachers only allowed one font and forbid the use of clip art.  The writing instruction followed a "carefully layered approach," from brainstorming to multiple stages of revision.  Students wrote three drafts in pencil, which were marked up by teacher.  Students were  pushed to "deepen" as writers.

            Christina Paterson, 8th grade English teacher:  "Our writing is mostly tied to projects because these kids have got to have something to write about.  They're experience poor."  The students only used computers to type final draft. (355-356)

 

            "The only thing an intelligent child can do with a complete toy is take it apart," a teacher at the Waldorf School says of the simple dolls in Kindergarten with no facial expressions.  "An incomplete toy lets children use their imaginations." (374)  Students create art almost every day. Eliana Raviv, a 10-year-old student, explained, "We never had green or purple.  We make it out of vermilion, red, yellow and blue, two kinds of blue.  It's important to get forms out of your own painting.  That way you learn how to develop forms." (375)

            The Waldorf teachers are especially relaxed in the teaching of reading.  Barbara Warren, a fourth grade teacher, explained,  "I didn't start by making them read more.  I started telling stories and getting them to recite poetry that they learned by listening, not reading.  They became incredible listeners. (378-379)  Perhaps not surprisingly, students tend to develop unusually long attention spans from these methods of absorbing language and allowing time for reflection.  (380)

            Mikko Bojarsky, a science teacher: "Nowadays we always push people to think so fast instead of letting them reflect."  He struggles not to answer questions, but to challenge his students to find their own answers,  (380)

 

            Oppenheimer offered some fair, but tough observations in his conclusion.  The

challenge for schools "is to be smarter about how and when they use technology and how they separate its wheat from its chaff." (393)

            " They must learn its fundamentals, rather than programs that are likely to be passŽ by the time the students enter the work force." (394)

            "We need people . . . who are as sensitive to the culture's humanistic needs as they are to its electronic possibilities." (395)

            The author recommends three building blocks to improve the situation

            A) "an atmosphere of high expectations, tied to sophisticated, creative inquiries in the real world

            B) a national collection of teachers who are not only well trained, but also sufficiently well paid to attract the world's best and bright"

            C) an educational culture that is first and foremost about people—and that rusts people, rather than numbers, to be the primary judge of a youngster's progress. (498)

 

Significant single sentences by Oppenheimer and other authorities:

            ¥ "The lack of proper teacher training is deadly." (71)

            ¥ "The argument that technology is 'not a replacement, but a supplement' is frequently a myth; that is exactly what many schools actually do." (140)

            ¥ Gray Rushkin: "The computer is a tool to explain real things students have seen" in contrast to "wet science" (199).

            ¥ Alfred North Whitehead, in 1929: "The best education is to be found in gaining the utmost information from the simplest apparatus." (345)

            ¥ Bob Albrecht : "Whenever I go out into the real world, I never see people making a lot of money sitting at their desks, answering multiple choice questions." (350)

            ¥ A teacher at a Waldorf School: Imagination is the heart of learning." (366)

            ¥ Stephen Kindel:  "Education depends on the intimate contact between a good teacher—part performer, part dictator, part cajoler—and an inquiring student." (397)

            ¥ Theodore Sizer: "The big problem is: Good people don't take and stay in jobs that don't entrust them with important things." (405)

            ¥ "At its core, education is a people process." (395)

 

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3) James Gee, The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students through Digital Learning Palgrave Macmillan, NYC, 2013

            11 pages of typed reading notes

 

            Gee echoes several common themes of my reading this summer; he wants a young person to be a producer and not a consumer (xii) and that "digital tools are no salvation."  The key is how they are subordinate to human learning (xiii

 

            Gee repeats Orwell's question: "Why are humans often so stupid even in the face of obvious or easily available evidence?" (4)  Like many of the writers, he develops his own terminology and catch phrases, and uses them throughout.  He discusses (the circuit of reflective action)

            1) the process of building simulations based on experience to think before acting

            2) acting

            3) assessing the outcome of the action in terms of how well it works toward accomplishing our goal

            4) choosing a new action or an adjustment of the old one

            5) then acting again.  (15-16)

 

            Another recurrent theme from Alan November and other real-world or project based educators: "School is often based not on problem solving, but on learning information.  School is about learning abstract knowledge, which is at clear odds with the circuit." (17)

 

            In chapter 3 he investigates the limits of human memory, noting that " Humans are bad at storing information (remembering) accurately." (21)  He discussed the force of narrative, and stated "Humans prefer stories to hard facts.  We find comfort in stories that evade hard facts in favor of fantasies." (28)  Stories allow us to remember better, to provide a framework around which to connect data.  "A story tells us not just what happened, but why it happened or what these happenings meant to or for us or others . . . "Stories help banish arbitrariness and meaninglessness." (29-30)  Uses Jesus as an example of standing for radical poverty and a complete lack of regard for status—not what meaning Christians actually believe or follow by example

 

            Students are often given textbooks in school without sufficient context. (47)  Another reason for human stupidity is lack of adequate experience.  (57)

 

            "In a truth-seeking game we agree to engage in the circuit of reflective action collaboratively with others with a goal of reaching truth and not just persuasion or the fulfillment of our desires and interests alone." (72)

 

            Useful insight for working with small groups.  He explains the Pareto principle.  "In any modern group endeavor, 10 to 20% of participants produce 80 to 90% of the results." (78)  It's not a Darwinian survival of the fittest.

 

            He also discussed a concept which came up in the July Innovation Lab meetings which Steve Duffy held.  The higher your status in a society, the more you believe your actions count. 

Formal school often follows this behavior  "Many students do not think their actions really matter or do not understand how to act so as to make them matter.  So they put in less effort, sometimes even give up, and we tell them it's their fault, that they just weren't smart enough or did not work hard enough." (80)  However, different forms of how learning is organized might have different outcomes.

 

            Institutions are poor at solving new problems, become frozen.  The QWERTY keyboard is an example of "frozen thought" (important when they were first developed, for mechanical typewriters whose keys stuck together, but not with computers.  However, too many people now see it as normal.  (88)

 

            One concern Gee has with the internet and social media is that people can never have to solve problems or struggle with adversity.  His description of the organization called "School of One," which promises to find each student's "sweet spot" exemplifies this.   this concept not helpful in real world, where students cannot customize everything to their favor. (115)

 

            A useful chapter on humans using tools, to help keep perspective of technology.  First, he marvels at the early stages of development. "The genius of humans was creating tools" (122) and uses the term "distributed cognition," which refers to the ways in which knowledge and ability can be shared between a human mind and a tool." (122)  Then we progressed to the stage of building tools to build tools.  However, now humans no longer their tools, rather it's vice versa  (e.g. the Pandora music software on the web) (123) Bemoans the evolution of the early Sims game, where players had to develop all kinds of lateral skills, like using Adobe Photoshop, and gain " transferable skills" (124-125).

            In a parallel situation in school, how much should we trust textbooks, for example, since they are often sourced backwards without the writers always starting with primary sources or knowing their field well.  (127)

 

            Gee begins to answer Orwell's question from the beginning of the book, stating two major reasons why humans are so stupid:  1) humans are not oriented toward truth, but to

meaning.  2) humans do not like to carry heavy things around in their heads (133).  Harking back to the "bush conscious" and traveling light, he asserts that humans do not like to store things in their head to excess.       "Nothing weighs heavier on the human mind than complexity" yet modern world full of complexity (140)

 

            "What if WE are not stupid, but only I alone am stupid?"  Is there a sense of "WE" which enhances instead of diminishes the dignity and creativity of each human?" (153)  The human mind more powerful with a tool, using other humans as "tools" in a positive way. (164)

 

            Gee tells the story of Tabby Lou, a shut-in, and her 6-year-old granddaughter, playing the Sims.  They couldn't find a purple potty and began consulting "affinity spaces" on the web.  Gradually became quite proficient in the online game.  "Was Tabby Lou an expert?  No, but she was smart because other people and good tools were smart with her."  Affinity spaces can be "the new and reinvigorated public sphere, nationally and globally" (172-174)

 

            People do not join affinity spaces to get jobs or be practical.  They are in them "to fuel passion, play, learning and synchronized human intelligence."  (178) We need affinity spaces in which we can tell "storied truths" where "evidence is storied."  People and schools should be  creating good stories around important true things.  (180)

 

"A good story that displays the meaning and moral value of those statistics and facts is crucial to move us humans.  If we want to change the world, or now even survive in it, we need to stop separating facts and figures as science from stories as the humanities.  There is an art to telling the truth.  It is a harder and better art than telling lies." (180-181)

 

Towards the end, Gee provides a lot of dense, useful conclusions: "   "Digital media can make us smarter . . . but only if the tools are put to good use . . . They are ways to make and take meaning.  We use them to receive meaning.  In this sense, digital tools are just like books.  In fact, books and digital media are both technologies for making and taking meaning, forms of "writing" (producing meaning) and "reading" (consuming meaning), as are television and film.  They are all, in that sense, "literacies." (198)

 

            He also expands on his "IÕm not anti-technology" position, by pointing out,

". . . Books do not make you smart all by themselves.  In fact, they can make you stupid if you believe everything they say or if you only read books that contain viewpoints you already believe in." (199)

 

            "Children today will have to read" (consume) and "Write" (produce) with a whole suite of technologies, including texts, digital tools, and social media of different forms often used in complex combinations with each other.  The point is not to keep digital and social media away from kids early, but to build on experiences with these media to create a pathway toward higher-order and complex thinking, skills, talk and texts, just as we want to do with books." (201)

 

            "You have to be able to read like a writer (asking how the book is written, why it is written that way, and how it might have been written otherwise), read with critical questions in mind that make you suspend belief in what the book says until you have thought deeply and widely about the matter, and you need to engage in your own writing.  Since digital media and social media are (like books) ways of making and taking meaning, the same thing is true for them." (203)

 

            Gee talks about instilling in students a "sustained interest for the long haul" (202) and that "Education must focus on giving every member of society a valued life" (205) Many of the priorities he discusses came up in Steve DuffyÕs "Innovation Lab" meetings in July:  "A key purpose of school and college must be to allow students to find passions for a good life and not just a good job." (213)

 

            Gee also returned to the value and importance of narrative and "Mental comfort stories."    "We humans need stories that sustain and encourage us in the face of the difficulties and challenges of life.  A real education should give us the resources to design and share better comfort stories, ones that are "storied truths" creating an evidentially based sense of possibility and hope, even as the story goes beyond facts to incorporate dreams and desired new worlds . . .  Great literature is often storied truth." (209)

 

Significant single sentences by Gee and other authorities:

¥  "We didn't come smart out of the box." (6-7)

¥  "When we recall one memory, all the others associated with it activate" which often contaminates the memory." (23)

¥  "Humans use words to orient not truth, but persuasion." (67)

¥  "We humans should often think about, reflect on, and make new decisions about institutions' frozen solutions, but mostly we do not."  (89)

¥  "Knowing for knowing's sake is a fool's errand, we believe." (138)

¥  Gee's formula for success in school: "an effective, well-integrated 'humans as reciprocal tools for each other + non-human tools' network a "Mind" with a capital "M." but "school is all about little minds not big Minds." (165)

            ¥  "The internet will not save us . . . nor will digital tools or social media." (191)

 

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            4) Applying Brain Research and Technology to Engage Today's Students by Lisa Nimz and Jerry Michel, Shell Education, Huntington Beach, CA, 2012

            12 pages of typed reading notes, and several sections I scanned and copied and pasted into the notes, such as charts with many columns, etc.

 

            This book seems to be much more designed for entry level teachers, although the vast bibliography plus web sites makes it a useful repository of information.  Like Burniski and MonkeÕs from a decade earlier, Breaking Down the Digital Walls: Learning to Teach in a Post-Modem World, and NovemberÕs Who Owns the Learning from 2012, the authors often provided very specific and practical examples of how digital immigrant teaches could begin or enhance productive and appropriate use of technology in their classrooms.

 

            This was also the first book where I tried to incorporate Tom DacchordÕs suggestion of using the iPad to scan sections of a textbook and manipulate the image (usually a copy and paste into the Word document of notes), rather than typing out large sections, especially some of there useful charts and questionnaires, such as "How tech-savvy are you?" (145) and "Learning skills and related digital tools and techniques" (147-149)

 

            Much as I am trying to do, Nimz and Michel frequently cited other sources, which offered a large array of opinions and ideas, not simply their own experiences.  An early chapter stressed the importance of teachers connecting with students.  "Dr. James Comer (1995): "No significant learning occurs w/o a significant relationship.  That relationship occurs when both sides are allowed to make a contribution." (14) 

 

They provided some major findings of brain research right off the bat:

            ¥) Brain plasticity enables the formation of new neural networks, meaning that the brain can rewire itself.

            ¥) Giftedness and talent can be developed and are not innate as once thought to be.

            ¥) Emotions have a great impact on learning.

            ¥) The school's social and emotional climate affects learning.

            ¥) Incremental, achievable challenges matched to students' level of ability sustain interest and motivation

            ¥) Students' collaborative role in learning is crucial. (17)

I also liked their perspective, that technology should not be an event; it is an integral part of learning.  Technology not the be "nemesis" of literacy and numeracy, but a means to develop those skills." (18)

 

            The authors also felt that some literacy skills are less either-or than many critics think.  "Students need to learn to read—whether they learn from a book on paper or on a screen.  They need to learn to write, not just use a keyboard.  Research shows that writing by hand trains the brain in ways that keyboarding cannot (Bounds 2010)".  (24) They also cited Reeves (2010) emphasizing "the importance of writing, particularly nonfiction writing, as having 'significant and positive effects in nearly every other areas of the curriculum. Nonfiction writing is the backbone of a successful literacy and student achievement strategy.' " (24)

 

            Nimz and Michel offered additional studies about how many elements distract todayÕs students (see also Carr and Maushart for tons of examples).  William Deresiewicz (2010) noted that "multitasking impairs your ability to think.  Long passage on how "multi-taskers" are, in fact, more distractible, not less." (26) I loved their dark humor of the joke about the ophthalmologist, standing over you with a laser, saying "Wait, let me Google that . . ." (32), to dramatize how students need to be more in command of some knowledge, that while that can search more easily with laptops, phones and tablets these days, they also need to possess a sound foundation of information with confidence. 

 

            They continue the debate about how increased use of technology influences especially the young mindÕs development.  Small and Vorgan (2008): "Daily exposure to high technology—computers, smart phones, video games, search engines like Google and Yahoo—stimulates brain cell alternation and neurotransmitter release, gradually strengthening new neural pathways in our brains while weakening old ones." 

 

They also allude to Carl DweckÕs theory of the fixed mindset (rigid and unyielding, afraid to take risks) vs. the open mindset.  Dweck facetiously role plays the fixed mind set: "If you have the ability, why should you need to learn?"  She conducted an experiment of "praised for ability" group of students vs. "praised for effort" group.  The "effort" group did better over a period of time, while the "ability" group had their confidence easily undermined. (61)

 

Nimz and Michel echo KeenÕs skepticism and not blind acceptance, that using the Internet requires "a good fact checker: curiosity blended with a healthy dose of skepticism." (72)  In a later chapter they also discuss the increasingly sophisticated algorithms which affect internet searches are being tracked now.  "You are what you click," and social networking is the embodiment of this. (126)  "So Big Brother is finally here, and it is not an institution or a government.  It is an equation." 127)  They further connect OrwellÕs warnings of half a century ago by noting Nicholas CarrÕs coining of the phrase "Googlethink." (vs. "doublethink, from the novel 1984). (127)

 

            The authors cite many contemporary pieces of software to help classroom teachers get started.  From authoring tools for "Web Logs" (so, the popular contraction became "blog") to "P.O.D.s" ("personal online device") and broadcast (hence, "podcast), to digital storytelling options like Animoto (116), they provide a wide range of examples and choices.

 

            In Chapter Eight, "Technology is not an Event," they develop an extended metaphor of a road trip with no paper maps or atlas, only an iPhone.  "There is where mindset—especially a mindset raised on technology—demonstrates that the medium is not the most crucial element to finding your way; rather, it is the flexibility of your thinking that makes all the difference." (137)

 

            They conclude by agreeing with experts like Douglas Rushkoff, that teachers need to Take a step or two out of your comfort zone" and that students should "Exceed the limits of your programming.  Rebuild and reboot." (139)

 

            I also recommend their chart for "Realistic technology integration for students and teachers" on page 143 and the chart on pages 145-149, How tech-savvy are you?

           

Significant single sentences by Nimz and Michel and other authorities:

¥  R. Buckminster Fuller: "We are called to be the architects of the future, not its victims." (51)

¥  The ability students bring to school is their starting point, not their finish line." (63)

¥  Coyle: "One of the marks of a great teacher is "the matrix," a deep understanding of the subject matter they are teaching," and being able to incorporate this with new technology. (79)

 

¥  "Exceed the limits of your programming.  Rebuild and reboot." (139)

 

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5) Susan Maushart, The Winter of Our Disconnect: How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (and a Mother Who Slept with Her iPhone) Pulled the Plug on Their Technology and Lived to Tell the Tale, Tarcher; 2011

 

This book represented a distinct shift in focus, from a "big picture," global view of technology, to a deeply personal view, of a mother with three teenagers who voluntarily removes all electronic devices from her family home for six months.  Maushart is also a free-lance, professional writer, so she counter-balances some of the emotional or subjective views of technology with considerable statistics and a regular, systematic connection with Henry David Thoreau for obvious reasons.

 

            She describes her two daughters and a son as "inhabiting media," rather than reading it, (1), and cites statistics such as "today the average American child spends almost as much time online as he or she does sleeping." (28-29)  Her teens, even though living in Australia, remind us of many 21st century American adolescents: "On Maslow's hierarchy of Needs (teenage edition) access to Internet browsing, an e-mil account, Facebook, iTunes, Nintendo, and a cell phone sits somewhere between "Safety" and "Love/Belonging." (31)

 

            Maushart provides one of the best definitions I encountered all summer for the qualities of a "digital native" (a person born after 1990 or so) and a "digital immigrant" (born before 1990) on page 50. 

            No matter how tech-savvy we Digital Immigrants become, we betray our Old World origins at every turn.  Starting with reading the instructional manual, which is a dead giveaway.  When a new technology arrives in the home, the Natives donÕt need to set out on a humbling search for the "On" button.  They just know, as though theyÕve been fitted with an auto-detect device their elders and inferiors have only read about in the IT pages of their sad little newspapers.  A new application is the same.  Immigrants such as you and me wade conscientiously through the documentation.  We do the tutorial.  We register for online support.  In short, we approach every new media experience—from Twitter to TiVo-as if it were a digital disaster waiting to happen.  WE respond by lining up a walking stick and a wheelchair, just in case.

 

            Equally acerbic is here withering critique of how the noun friend has been warped into the verb "to friend" or the uglier gerund, "friending" on page 197.  She agrees with Neil Seeman, who felt compelled to make the following qualifications:  "ÕFriendÕ requires an adjective these days, since it otherwise feels empty.  WeÕve dumbed adult friendships down.  Only four-year-olds call everybody who says hello to them a Ôfriend.Õ  But suddenly grown-p people who ought to know better are doing exactly that, carrying on like Casper the Friendly Ghost or Sniffles the Mouse (who, if memory serves, once tried to make friends with an acorn)."

 

            Part of her credibility in addressing the concerns of technology is her own admission of how addicted she had become.  Citing Tony Norman: "If you ever want to know what was going through Frodo Baggins's mind as he stood clutching the evil ring over the lava pits of Mt. Doom in The Return of the King, buy an iPhone." (104)  Her self-deprecating humor sometimes amuses, but at other times sounds almost panicky.  "Not even the app store has figured out a way to disable our free will."  But the ringing phone "is very nearly unignorable."  (109)  She describes the dilemma of many iPhone users, suffering from "features creep," with too many other apps to add on or change. (114) and echoes ThoreauÕs warning of becoming "the tools of our tools."  (115)

 

            She spends a lot of time discussing the evils of multi-tasking and the low degree of concentration the digital natives have, describing her children living in the state of "cogitus interruptus" (147)  She demonstrates the breadth of her research by offering a range of experts: Tapscott & Steven Johnson defending against the charges, while Mark Bauerlein (The Dumbest Generation) Maggie Jackson (Distracted) and Michael Osit (Generation Text) reinforcing her point of view of the ill effects of technology. (151) 

 

            Closer to the specific topic of my summer fellowship, Maushart states: "Reading in the ager of the interest is skim deep (sic)  WILFing ("What was I looking for?") refers to the habit of online free association that starts out with a specific purpose and ends up hours later "elsewhere." (167)   Nicholas Carr also contributes useful imagery for this lack of depth:  "Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words.  Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski." (N. Carr, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?")

 

            Another decades-long researcher into how technology affects human beings*, Professor Sherry Turkle expresses astonishment, that "People are going to lectures by some of the greatest minds, and they are doing their mail [at M.I.T.].  I tell them this is not a place for e-mail, it's not a place to do online searches . . .  You've got to get people to participate in the world as it is." (176) 

 

            Like Gee and Keen, Maushart feels there is an inverse ratio occurring, between the amount of knowledge humans theoretically have access to and the degree to which it benefits them.  "The information paradox—that the more data we have, the stupider we become—has a social corollary, too: that the more frantically we connect, one to another, the more disconnected our relationships become."

            "We have sold our social depth for social breadth and interactive quality for interactive quantity to become what playwright Richard Foreman calls 'pancake people': 'spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button." (185)

 

            She also supplies a useful Recommend Reading section on pages 277-278.

 

Significant single sentences by Maushart and other authorities:

¥  Thoreau: "Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys which distract our attention from serious things." (76)

            ¥  Daniel Boorstin: "The greatest menace to progress is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge." (141)

¥  "To an important degree, we really do become what we behold—and so, it turns out, do our brains.  It's not so much the content we absorb that makes the difference.  It's the way that content is packaged and transmitted via symbols (like an alphabet or semaphore) and media (like the printing press or a Bluetooth headset). (157)

* TurkleÕs The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit (1985) formed the basis of much of my 1990 NJAIS summer grant.

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            6) Douglas Rushkoff, Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now, Current / Penguin, New York City, 2013

            10 pages of typed reading notes and some photocopying for bibliography and for direct quotations

 

            I had been very impressed by RushkoffÕs Program or Be Programmed a few years ago, and so looked forward to his newest book, nor was I disappointed.  Like Keen and Gee, the author examines the impact of technology on humans in an ambitious and through manner.  RushkoffÕs title pays homage to Alvin TofflerÕs Future Shock from 1970, and upgrading TofflerÕs wide-ranging predictions to the 21st century, noting that while MooreÕs Law (computer power doubles about every two years) is still true, everything else in our society is accelerating as well.  He regularly offers advice not just for students, but for teachers and adults in general, such as "When things begin accelerating wildly out of control, sometimes patience is the only answer.  Press pause.  We have time for this." (8)

 

            My English teacher side was probably lured in my RushkoffÕs citing Mark Turner,  "Narrative imagining—story—is the fundamental instrument of thought."  (13)  He theorizes that we should not underestimate major recent events such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks in causing some of our disorientation, as well as smaller things like the 24-hour news cycle on cable and the TV remote control, in which "TV loses its ability to tell stories over time." (22)  Indeed, he often uses popular culture, such as a recent trend of television programs to illustrate his title idea.  "The SopranosÕ last episode was one of best examples of present shock; in a seemingly incongruous scene, the screen suddenly goes black . . . No drama, no insight." (33) 

 

            Rushkoff offers insight into the popularity of video games, suggesting that video games have surpassed other forms of entertainment because "They engage with players in an open-ended fashion, they communicate the experience instead of telling, and they invite players into the creative process." (58-59) This change in narrative structure suggests a shift in our sensibilities.  "When we read a book or watch a movie, the best choice for each character already exists; it just hasn't been revealed.  When we play a game, that choice is happening in real time."  (62)  I donÕt necessarily agree with his premise that "Games point the way toward new ways of accomplishing what used to be done with stories," (66) but it bears further investigation from educators.

 

            Many colleagues my age may appreciate his defining and fleshing out the concept of Future Shock, as he reminds us that our bodies and minds are still "analog," however much our culture is increasingly digitized.  "Wherever our real bodies may be, our virtual personae are being bombarded with information and missives.  Our inboxes are loading, our Twitter feeds are rolling, our Facebook updates are changing, our calendars are filling, and our consumer profiles and credit reports are adjusting all along the way."  "Why hasn't anyone answered my e-mail?" sounds like a battle cry. (72)  He reminds us that while "Computers don't suffer present shock; people do." (76)

 

            Rushkoff even contrasts our digital culture from a decade or so ago, noting that early internet culture worked asynchronously, but now everything is "present."  People thought about replies longer and edited them more.  "You could be smarter on the Internet than in real life."  But Twitter and cell phones have turned "a potentially empowering asynchronous technology into a falsely synchronous one." (99)  He provides powerful images of different stages in our technological development: "Our analog technologies anchored us temporally in ways our digital ones don't.  In a book or a scroll, the past is on our left, and the future is on our right.  We know where we are in linear time by our position in the paper.  . . The future on a blog is not to one side, but above—in the as-yet-unposted potential.  The past isn't to the other side, but down, in and among older posts. . . . What is next does not unfold over time, but is selected as part of a sequence." (113-114)

 

            Rushkoff examines school specifically and is concerned out a "quiz show approach now favored by public schools," where "Intelligence is equated with speed . . . More, faster, is better." (125)  I found his assessment of the way humans "read" or receive information eye-opening: "Stored information, like a book, is usually something you want to absorb from beginning to end.  It has greater longevity and is less dependent on the exact moment it comes out.  We can read it in our own time, stopping and starting as we will, until we get to the end. . . Flowing information, like 24-hour news or MTV videos, is more like the nonnarrative experience of electronic music or extreme sports.  We get a textural experience, we learn the weather, or we catch the drift.  We do not get to the end; we shut if off and continues without us." (142-143)

 

            Another generational issue is the concept of privacy.  "The anxiety of influence gives way to the acceptance of intimacy and shared credit.  Many young people I encounter are already more than comfortable losing their privacy to social networks preferring to see it as preparation for an even less private, almost telepathic future in which people know one another's thoughts, any way." (204) The recent revelations of the NSAÕs illegal monitoring of phones did nothing reassure me of this acceptance by a younger generation. 

 

            As an educator, I was also especially interested in his take on feedback.  "For feedback to be useful there must be some interval between the thing you've done and the result you've created.  You need time to see what happened and then adjust." (208) It reminded me of the process method of writing, that good writing occurs organically and gradually, not all at once.  This same "everything in the present, all at once" lack of development can also make quality close reading more difficult.  I cringed when he describes a student who was  "getting the gist of Hamlet" by skimming the play a few minutes and consulting Wikipedia. (233)

 

            RushkoffÕs last several pages of conclusion were thoughtful and thought-inspiring.  He realizes he could have written one book "dozens of articles, hundreds of blog posts and thousands of Tweets . . .  Here I am writing opera when people are listening to singles.  And taking the time to write or read a whole book on the phenomenon does draw a line in the sand.  It means we can stop the onslaught of demands on our attention; we can create a safe space for uninterrupted contemplation; we can give each moment the value it deserves and no more; we can tolerate uncertainty and resist the temptation to draw connections and conclusions before we are ready. . .  For just as we can pause, we can also un-pause." (265)

 

 Significant single sentences by Rushkoff and other authorities:

            ¥  People are still analog."  (71)

            ¥  "We must re-train ourselves instead to see the reward in the amount of time we get to spend in the reverie of solo contemplation or live engagement with another human being.  Whatever is vibrating on the iPhone just isn't as valuable as the eye contact you are making right now." (117)

            ¥  Steven Johnson: "Great ideas fade into view over long periods of time."  [refuting the sudden burst of inspiration concept]

            ¥  "When everything is rendered instantly accessible via Google and iTunes, the entirety of culture becomes a single layer deep.  The journey disappears, and all knowledge is brought into the present tense.  In the short forever, there is no time to prepare and anticipate." (153)

            ¥  "The more appropriate approach to the pressures of apocalypto may be to let up on the pedal just a bit.  That doesn't mean stopping altogether, or stepping on the brakes . . ." (264)

 

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7) Will Richardson, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, Corwin Sage Publishers, Thousand Oaks, CA, 2010 (159 pages)

            2 pages of typed reading notes and some photocopying

 

            I found this book at the Montclair UniversityÕs Curriculum Resource Center, and like the Nimz and Michel book, found it useful for pragmatic, nuts and bolts instruction.  Will Richardson is the co-founder of Powerful Learning Practice (plpnetwork.com), and the 2010 copyright date ensure fairly up-to-date news.

 

            He started with historical background of Tim Berners-LeeÕs 1989 vision: "The original thing I wanted to do was make it [the WWW] a collaborative medium, a place where we could all meet and read and write." (1)  He refers to Rushkoff's "a society of authorship," where everyone has the ability to contribute ideas (5).  He was inclined towards more factual statements like today's students "develop hypertext minds.  They leap around." (Prensky), but spent less time as to what the effects of these neurological changes might be.

 

            He structures the book using a "toolbox" extended metaphor and devotes chapters to

            1) Weblogs

            2) Wikis

            3) Really Simple Syndication (RSS) allows a user to subscribe to "feeds" of content from the Internet

            4) Aggregators  collect and organize the content generated via the RSS feed

            5) Social Bookmarking

            6) Online Photo Galleries

            7) Audio / Video Casting

            8) Twitter

            9) Social Networking Sites (10-11)

 

            I enjoyed his "Pedagogy of Weblogs" chapter, which suggested that such writing was a new writing genre, but he was also balanced in including National Council of Teachers of English's "Standards For Language Arts and "Definition of 21st Century Literacies" (41-42), which I scanned and included in my initial reading notes.  He also supplied half a dozen examples of school and teacher blogs, such as Anne DavisÕs EduBlog insights (35) and The Write Weblog  (tinyurl.com/51yr59)  or http://itc.blogs.com/thewriteweblog/, which has several inviting "voice threads" to listen to.

 

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            8) R. W. Burniski and Lowell Monke, Breaking Down the Digital Walls: Learning to Teach in a Post-Modem World, State University of New York Press, Albany, 2001 (269 pages)

           

            I found this book at the Montclair UniversityÕs Curriculum Resource Center as well as RichardsonÕs, and perused this for half a page of notes, as I tried to hone my skills at quality note-taking. 

            It was good for supplying some nuggets of thought and quotations from others.

 

Significant single sentences by Burniski and Monke and other authorities:

 

            ¥  "Without dialogue there is no communication, and without communication there can be no true education."   --Paul Freire (p. 73-74, 1997, Pedagogy of the Oppressed)

 

            ¥  Neil Postman on the impact of new technology: "When Gutenberg announced that he could manufacture books . . .  he did not imagine that his invention would undermine the authority of the Catholic Church.  And yet, less than 80 years later, Martin Luther was, in effect, claiming that with the world of God available in every home, Christians did not require the papacy to interpret it for them. (p. 151, Amusing Ourselves to Death)

 

¥  Theodore Roszak: "We do not bring the full resources of self to the computer" (1986, p. 71, The Cult of Information: A Neo-Luddite Treatise on High Tech, Artificial Intelligence, and the True Art of Thinking) 

 

¥  T. S. Eliot: "Where is the wisdom lost in knowledge?  Where is the knowledge lost in information?" (1963, p. 147, "Choruses from The Rock" in Collected Poems 1909-1962)

 

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9) Alan November's Who Owns the Learning?   (Solution Tree Press, 2012, 105 pages),

Also with QR stamps and TED talks

 

            Who Owns the Learning? was a strong model of a book to refer to colleagues, insofar as its slim size (105 pages) was packed dense with insight, and its 21st century concepts, of QR squares for quick internet connections (I tried at least a dozen and found all of them relevant to some degree) and links with TED Talks on YouTube very friendly to users with a variety of learning styles.  I read this in the middle of Steve DuffyÕs five July, 2013 meetings for an "Innovation Lab", for project-based learning, and was struck buy the numerous parallels between NovemberÕs book and our discussions of more student-oriented approach to education.  As the author notes in his Introduction: "The people you will read about in this book are living examples of the educator John DeweyÕs belief that "education is not preparation for life; education is life itself." (5)

 

            November has created a Digital Learning Farm model to illustrate his research and theories.  "Students supply much more of the creative design, preparation, delivery and revision of the educational process, enabling teachers to spend more time in the roles of mentor, advisor and facilitator." (6) I also liked how he used half a dozen teachers in detailed case histories for each of his 21st century attributes: the student as tutorial designer, the student as scribe, the student as researcher and the student as global communicator and collaborator.  As was often the case, November cited other learning experts, such as Daniel PinkÕs most "important predictors of high-quality work are autonomy, mastery and purpose."  (13)

 

            He also shifts more responsibility towards students and the idea that the teacher is no less important than in previous centuries, but has shifted in responsibilities.  November asserts that  "learning how to learn" is one of the most essential 21st century educational goals.  He also agrees that simply adding tech per se wonÕt help much. (14)  In elaborating on the educatorÕs changing role, he explained: "Teaching . . . doesnÕt require a strong command of specific technical tools and skills; instead, it leverages educatorsÕ ability to tap the underestimated value of student contribution."  Teachers need "clear evidence of student learning, but they also empower students to be more autonomous and more collaborative."  (18-19)

 

            In the first section, November talks about assigning "student scribes" to classroom discussion.  A scribe "produces shared notes.  While all the students can take their own notes, the student scribe collects, organizes, end edits a draft of the notes."  November describes this as "low-hanging fruit" for teachers.  The role requires little technology to learn, and can be kept at a simple, easy-to-maintain level which benefits everyone. (39)  I initially disagreed with his idea of the "back channel scribe," who does not participate in the current discussion, but records and then posts comments of the discussion while it is going on.  (See also his further elaboration of this on pages 68-69, when having back channel scribes working during an ePal Skype exchange).   Many teachersÕ fear of losing control prevents them from implementing this, and I admit to some trepidation, although I will definitely experiment with the class scribe system.

 

         The most meaningful part of the entire book may have been chapter 4, "The Student as Researcher," in which he goes into great detail about intelligent and thoughtful searches on the internet.  He warns that "The web has its own specific architecture of information, its own grammar, punctuation and syntax, its own way of storing and retrieving information." (50)  He suggests four useful search engines (Twitter, GoogleÕs advanced search tools, WolframtAlpha, and Diigo) and provides many examples of both inaccurate if not intellectually negligent searching by students, and then concrete steps to prevent this.  "One of the most astonishing gaps in many studentsÕ educations is their inability to validate information on the internet . . . We must train them to apply the same rigor and discipline to their online research that they apply to other skills across the curriculum." (51)

 

               One of the best examples of the QR scan patches was on page 57, which links to a YouTube video of creating a Google Custom Search Engine (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeiFFpo8qME), which contrasted marvelously with a student typing in a few words in the little Google window of his browser and thinking he has "searched" the internet.  In fact, however much knowledgeable teachers may have maligned the inept, ignorant Google search, expert educator Michael Gorman points out that, properly used, "GoogleÕs Advanced Search feature teaches users the function of important search tools, such as AND statements (through the All These Words option) OR commands (through the One or More of These Words option), NOT statements (through the One or More of These Words option) and STRINGs (the This Exact Wording or Phrase option)." (61)

 

               November continues examining the implications of effective use of 21st century technology in the next chapter, showing how good student research can yield impressive results.  Global education demands multiple points of view. He bet $20 that students could not find search results about the American Revolution from an British-based source (no one has collected the $20 yet).  "Web literacy isnÕt just about learning to be productive online; it also involves taking control of the technologies that we use, so that we—not our tools—are guiding our results." (72) This is very similar to RushkoffÕs warning of "Program or Be Programmed." 

 

               The last chapter, on "Joining Forces in Purposeful Work: The Legacy of Student Contribution, offers a great case history of two middle school history teachers, 36 miles apart in Ohio, whose students collaborate to compose a student wiki, a digital online history textbook (81).  I was intrigued by the teaches not grading the project.  Michael Pennington stated, "Upfront, they knew that they were doing the project for intrinsic learning [not grades] . .  From the beginning, itÕs been students doing it because they want to leave that digital footprint." (83)  Their end-of-the-year oral presentation of what grew into a major creation of historical data reminded me of Louise DewarÕs description of the Capstone presentations at her Ranney School, a ceremony of great significance and pride.  Pennington echoes John DeweyÕs observation: "The kids are realizing that learning is a natural process of life.  It happens and it should be happening all the time, and as long as you are aware of it, youÕre going to get so much more out of it." (83)

 

Significant single sentences by November and other authorities:

 

               ¥  "If we only teach one skill to prepare our students to survive in a web-based world, it should be that of critical thinking in the analysis of online information." (62)

 

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10) Wolf, M. Proust and the Squid: The story and science of the reading brain.  New York: Harper, 2007. 

 

            I came across this book initially when Nimz and Michel referred to in in Applying Brain Research . . ., and was fascinated by sections of it, and a reader and an English teacher.  This work was far too technical in many sections, and most of it focused on humans first learning how to read, but it did reflect, at times, the importance of close reading and the need for the human brain to connect deeply with the written word.

 

            Wolf explained her title early on: "In this book I use the celebrated French novelist Marcel Proust as metaphor and the largely underappreciated squid as analogy for two very different aspects of reading.  Proust saw reading as a kind of intellectual Ôsanctuary,Õ where human beings have access to thousands of different realities they might never encounter or understand otherwise.  Each of these new realities is capable of transforming readersÕ intellectual lives without ever requiring them to leave the comfort of their armchairs . . . Scientists in the 1950s used the long central axon of the shy but cunning squid to understand how neurons fire and transmit to each other, and in some cases to see how neurons repair and compensate when something goes awry."  (6-7)

 

            Wolf discusses many famous writers and her remembrances of first encountering them.  "It is said that Machiavelli would sometimes prepare to read by dressing up in the period of the writer he was reading and then setting a table for the two of them.  This was his sign of respect for the authorÕs gift, and perhaps of MachiavelliÕs tacit understanding of the sense of encounter that Proust described." (7) 

 

      Like Maushart more informally, Wolf is concern with "the Google universe of my children," with its massive amounts of information appearing instantaneously.  "Is the act of reading dramatically different in such contexts?" (16)  "Can we preserve the constructive dimension of reading in our children alongside their growing abilities to perform multiple tasks and to integrate ever-expanding amounts of information?  Should we begin to provide explicit instruction for reading multiple modalities of text presentation to ensure that our children learn multiple ways of processing information?" (17)

 

            She cites other experts, such as Edward TennerÕs concern about "whether Google promotes a form of information illiteracy and whether there may be unintended negative consequences of such a mode of learning: ÔIt would be a shame if brilliant technology were to end up threatening the kind of intellect that produced it.Õ" (22)  Wolf argues that "We do "not need to choose between two modes of communication; rather, we must be vigilant not to lose the profound generativity of the reading brain, as we add new dimensions to our intellectual repertoire." (23)

 

            Wolf uses Vygotsky to examine the process of writing and refining thoughts.  The noted child developmental psychologist describes the "inner dialogue" of writer and reader  "In other words, the writerÕs efforts to capture ideas with ever more precise written words contain within them an inner dialogue, which each of us who has struggled to articulate our thoughts knows from the experience of watching our ideas change shape through the sheer effort of writing." (73)

 

            When considering how to best guide both class discussion and to incorporate written comments into the "back channel" of permanent threads on the class web page, I identified with her description of the process of learning how to read.  "We step outside ourselves for ever-lengthening moments and begin to understand the Ôother,Õ which Marcel Proust wrote lies at the heart of communication through written language." (86)  Indeed, for some children reading lies close to the heart of their identity.  The 6-year-old narrator of To Kill a Mocking Bird,"

Scout Finch, is shocked when her first grade teacher says she may not read at home, on AtticusÕs lap.  "Until I feared I would lose it [reading], I never loved to read.  One does not love breathing." (96)

 

Significant single sentences by Wolf and other authorities:

            ¥  Proust: "I believe that reading, in its original essence, [is] that fruitful miracle of a communication in the midst of solitude." (3)

            ¥  ProustÕs On Reading.  "There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those . . . we spent with a favorite book." (6)

            ¥  "The act of teaching not only requires a firm knowledge of the subject, but also forces the teacher to analyze what goes into the learning of a particular content.  Moreover, good teaching renders the multiple dimensions of the subject to be taught more visible—in this case, the complex nature of language in its written form." (37)

           

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11) Digital Learning: Strengthening and Assessing 21st Century Skills by Ferdi Serim,

with DVD, grades 5-8, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA, 2012

            4 pages of typed notes

 

            SerimÕs book resembled Nimz and MichelÕs Applying Brain Research and Technology to Engage Today's Students, in that it was tightly focused and set up for immediate use in lesson plans.  Its target audience seemed to be beginning or not terribly knowledgeable educators who were coming to grips with 21st century technology, and who needed to be accountable to Common Core standards.  Like NovemberÕs Who Owns the Learning?, it also provided many web addresses and had an attached DVD, which provided PDFÕs of sample lesson plans and a series of movie clips of Serim interviewing a variety of education technology experts.  It could also be used as a companion volume to his online teacher courses. 

 

            Within the first few pages, Serim provided the six standards for the NETS (National Educational Technology Standards), which he then used consistently throughout the book.  He was also very big on visual illustrations and graphs, and maintained a consistent color scheme and reference points, which took a while to not be overwhelmed by, but then established a reliable pattern. He echoed many authors I read this summer, of encouraging teachers to not be intimidated by the new technology: "DonÕt let errors go unnoticed or uncommented, but instead let errors prompt you to build to deeper understandings.  Remember, many discoveries started out as mistakes." (6)

 

            He devoted two-thirds of the book to illustrating examples of how teachers could use the six standards in the four core subject areas in middle school (English, math, science and geography.  The six NETS standards are:

            1) Creativity and Innovation

            2) Communication and Collaboration

            3) Research and Information Fluency

            4) Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making

            5) Digital Citizenship

            6) Technology Operations and Concept

 

Significant single sentences by Serim and other authorities:

               ¥  Margaret Riel  "A leader is someone who inspires others to do better." (50)

               ¥  "You canÕt master anything youÕve not been exposed to, so it is important to take a look at whatÕs commonly available now, take stock of how these capabilities extend the learning experiences you provide, and take charge of your strategy for keeping your tool kit current." (53)

               ¥  David Thornburg: If we are going to unlock the creativity of the students, we first have to unlock the creativity of the teachers." (142)

 

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12) Carol DweckÕs Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Random House, New York City, NY, 2006. 

 

            Dr. DweckÕs initial premise is that too many humans are trapped in a "Fixed Mindset," where your "qualities are carved in stone . . . which creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over" and to fear taking risks. (6)  Instead, she urges people to embrace a "growth mindset" "based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your effort . . . everyone can change and grow through application and experience."  (7)  She cited Benjamin Barber, an eminent sociologist, to further establish her categories:  "I donÕt divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures . . . I divide the world into the learners and nonlearners." (16)

 

            She used Chuck Yeager, the famous test pilot in the NASA development of the astronaut program, to dispel the idea of "natural talent," a fixed mindset concept: "There is no such thing as a natural-born pilot.  Whatever my aptitude or talents, becoming a proficient pilot was hard work, really a lifetimeÕs learning experience . . . The best pilots fly more than the others; thatÕs why theyÕre the best." (32)  Also pertinent to a school situation is her examination of many adolescents in a fixed mindset, who worry about the "Anxiety of being de-throned,"  fearing college or an AP curriculum. (60)

 

            She notes the importance of teachers to embrace a growth mindset, as well as encouraging their students to do so, using examples of Marva Collins in Chicago and Coach John Wooden at UCLA.  "The great teachers believe in the growth of the intellect and talent, and they are fascinated with the process of learning." (188)  I was impressed in particular by the anecdote she told about Wooden involving a crucial game of UCLA against Duke, and having to yank a star player who was not doing well,  Fred Slaughter.  They won the game, but Wooden sought out Slaughter after the game to apologize for taking him out.  The player said, "Coach . . . I want you to know I understand.  You had to leave Doug (his replacement) in there because he played so well, and I didnÕt.  I wanted to play in the worst way, but I do understand, and if anyone says I was upset, itÕs not true.  Disappointed, yes, but upset, no.  And I was very happy for Doug." (102-103)

 

            Significant single sentences by Dweck and other authorities:

               ¥  Mia Hamm: "All my life IÕve been playing up, meaning IÕve challenged myself with players older, bigger, more skillful, more experienced—in short, better than me . . . Each day I attempted to play up to their level . . . and I was improving faster than I ever dreamed possible." (21)

               ¥  Twyla Tharp, who worked on the movie version of Amadeus, on the theory of a born genius  Hogwash!  Nonsense!  "There are no ÔnaturalÕ geniuses." (70)

               ¥  John Wooden: "For me, concern, compassion, and consideration were always priorities of the highest order." (103)

 

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Had to stop because of time, but would love to include these as well, since I have reading notes on them.

 

13) Rushkoff, Douglas.  Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age. 

 

14) Darnton, Robert.  The Case for Books. 

 

15) Levin, Diane.  Beyond Remote-Controlled Childhood: Teaching Young Children in the Media Age.  Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2013. Print.

 

 

 

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