As you can see by the photo below, I’m a huge fan of technology. As a high school teacher, I am required to use Remind, Google Apps for Education, Gmail and other email. We are also required to have our cellphones with us at all times in case, God forbid, we find ourselves in an emergency situation. We are encouraged, but not required, to follow the district’s Facebook account, Twitter feeds and I’m sure something else I’ve forgotten. However, we obviously cannot use our private Facebook or other social media for school business.
This photo shows my kindle, nook and Echo. I took the photo with my iPhone and am posting this on my laptop.
I believe in teaching and using 21st Century technology skills. At work I use a desktop, a laptop, a Chromebook and my iPhone. At home I use my iPhone, my Kindle, my nook and my laptop. And thanks to a Christmas gift from my son, I now have an Amazon Echo.
The Echo is amazing. It will be even more amazing when I remember to say “Alexa” instead of “Amber,” which for some reason I have memorized as the wake-up name. I’m still setting up my Echo, and have a lot to figure out. But I have paired my Amazon Prime Music playlists, my Pandora account, and am now setting up an Audible account. I can ask “Amber,” I mean “Alexa” what the weather is, get the news briefs from CNN and BBC, ask what time it is, ask for jokes and……that’s what I’ve figured out so far. If you don’t know what the Echo is, check out the video.
I believe in teaching coding and that the Hour of Code which so many students across the nation, including my grandsons, participated in, is essential for future success for all students.
But I firmly believe in knowing how to read.
And it occurred to me today, as I woke up and asked the Echo what time it was, what the weather was like and for the CNN news, that I no longer needed to read. Of course, some people need to read to write the code, to write the newsflashes, to write the books that we can listen to on Audible. But especially with devices like the Echo, it isn’t necessary to read well or often.
Teachers have lamented for quite a while that students don’t read at the level they should. And they aren’t very interested in reading. I read about 5 books a week for pleasure, and read a lot for work. But what I see in my classroom and in others, is kids looking around the room, sighing, saying aloud “this is boring. Why can’t we watch the movie?” No longer is a student required to go home and read the book. Or if they are, only a handful of students do it. Now we read sections aloud, have them read short sections and then provide summaries.
And writing? There is a debate that students who normally wouldn’t write at all are writing on Twitter. Newsflash not from Echo: wanna is not a word. Even if students are gonna use it. R u getting this?
What do researchers and other professionals think? Do they agree with me? I googled “Are 21st century technology skills increasing the achievement gap?” and got this article that debunks my theory. Education Week 10/11/2010 Whaaaaaaa? So let me do a Google search to find an article that agrees with my views.
The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner This one is closer. Not just a rah-rah all kids need to use technology and it automatically helps them achieve higher level thinking skills (allow me 2 remind u 2 b sure I totally disagree with this). But Tony Wagner recognizes the gap that not only exists in this country but also that gap between the US and the global arena. And that we need to read.
Knowing how to, and wanting to, read for pleasure is the greatest gift that a teacher can give a child.
But the Amazon Echo was the greatest gift that I received this Christmas.