In a recent meeting, the Middle School Team discussed how technology in general and social media in particular affects middle schoolers, kicking off what we envision will be a series of deep dive discussions. As always, we will rely on a mix of what experts and the research tell us, and how our day-to-day experience with the students - and conversations with families - further shapes our practice.
Having polished off a delicious blue plate special at Veggie Galaxy in Cambridge, I set off back toward Harvard Square. While I was admittedly clutching my phone in my right hand as my arm swung back and forth, as I watched person after person coming toward me staring down at their phones or talking to an unseen interlocuteur, I realized I no longer felt I was missing out on something by focusing on my actual environment instead of my own phone, quickly and frequently opening it up to unlock it and see what was going on in social media world. I wasn’t particularly surprised. But it did make me think about my journey to this point.
I was browsing Twitter early this morning when I read this tweet by John Spencer: “Ugh. Her biggest complaint of iPads was silence. Would she say the same about books?” in reference to the article “I gave my students iPads — then wished I could take them back” by Launna Hall. I wrote back in agreement, “It's like criticizing families who read morning news on their phones but praising those who read newspapers. Ugh indeed.” and clicked to read the article.
We need to make sure we’re making it possible for people of all genders to feel acknowledged for their contributions and not feel held back by something as arbitrary as their genetics or appearance.
- Emily Graslie
Chief Curiosity Coordinator has to be one of the most awesome job titles ever. The position, created by Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, is held by Emily Graslie, who is STEAM (Science - Technology - Engineering - Art - Mathematics) personified. A studio art major, she interned at the Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum, where she was tapped to host her own show on YouTube, “The Brain Scoop,” to show and discuss the behind-the-scenes workings of a major natural history museum. She also manages a tumblr by the same name.
“You might want to have someone go with you, so you don’t walk into a wall,” I said. Erin was just pages away from the ending of To Kill a Mockingbird and had stood up and started walking to her next class without ever taking her eyes off the open book. Erin asked, “Isabela, will you go with me so I don’t walk into a wall?” Isabela smiled and said, “Okay,” and they drifted off together.
Erin was not alone in having become utterly immersed and captivated by the book – several other seventh graders had also read ahead, moaning at the end of study hall and refusing to put the book down. Bekah had just finished reading Atticus’s summation at Tom Robinson’s trial, and marveled at how captivating and compelling the two-page speech was. Juliana looked over at me and said, “Oh my God, this book is so good! It makes me want to be a lawyer!” I paused and thought for a second. “Interesting. It makes me want to be a writer. And yet, we’d be doing the same kinds of things and for the same reasons.” Juliana smiled back, told me, “I’m so glad I’m in Debate,” shouldered her backpack, and headed off to Art and Culture.
This was the title of a post in the Senior IB candidates' blog for their Theory of Knowledge class. Their teacher, Alex Bogel, linked them to an article by Marc Prensky entitled "Our Brains Extended" which the faculty was reading over the summer. In the article, Mr. Prensky makes the point that "Technology... is an extension of our brains; it's a new way of thinking." He then poses the question, "Now that kids are routinely exposed to increasingly sophisticated information online, what's an 'age-appropriate' curriculum? What subject matter from the past is still relevant, and for whom?" Finally, he suggests a vision for completely revamping the curriculum in our nation's schools. He proposes organizing learning around four themes: effective thinking, effective action, effective relationships, and effective accomplishment. (Interestingly, these four themes integrate well with the fundamental philosophy of the IB curriculum, for example through the Creativity-Action-Service, or CAS, requirement.)
It’s been a productive day, and I’ve only just finished breakfast.
A member of the foreign language teachers listserve group (FLTeach) responded to an emailed post I’d made last week, giving me a chance to clarify my ideas and questions about the dual roles of cognitive learning and subconscious acquisition in learning languages.