Like many teachers, I have a complicated view of technology in the classroom: I acknowledge and appreciate the sense of adventure and excitement it inspires in my students, as well as the way in which it allows them to access information and find their own methods of expressing what they’ve learned and creating something new. But, as a teacher heavily invested in the philosophy and methodologies of reading and writing workshop, I struggle with how to incorporate technology in a meaningful way, and worry about what my students may be losing in terms of their reading and writing lives as we go online to read, research, and create. Enter, this book:
I’ve been following Amplify‘s authors Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke for some time now, through Twitter, their blog and their work with Stephanie Harvey in Connecting Comprehension and Technology, so I had a feeling that their new book would offer just the guidance I would need to feel comfortable and confident in moving forward with digital teaching and learning in my sixth grade classroom.
Early in the book, Katie and Kristin write:
All children can learn. We have countless opportunities each day to invite kids to do the work and build understanding. Leveraging technology is one way to make that happen. Technology gives kids access and amplifies opportunities for interaction. In a digital conversation, every student participates; no one is left out.
And they remind us that:
The technology is as transformational as we make it. It’s not the tool that counts; it’s what we do with it.
Amplify is a step by step guide to figuring out the why and how of digital reading and writing in our classrooms:
*Incorporating a mindset for technology within a workshop framework of best practices.
*Exploring ways in which we can connect students (and ourselves, their teachers) to powerful learning opportunities outside the four walls of our classrooms and school libraries.
*Being explicit in how we introduce and teach our students new digital formats and ways of interacting with digital texts.
*Specific lessons to foster independence, i.e. ” developing a mindset for becoming a digital citizen and establishing basic care and management procedures”.
*Forming authentic tools with which to assess our students’ learning and build reflective practices into digital learning.
*Foster inquiry across the curriculum and a global stance towards learning – what can we both learn from and teach to other students?
Amplify was just the book I needed to read at this stage of my teaching life; it gives me just the types of scaffolds I need to move both my students and myself forward in digital literacy.
I loved the charts, links to videos, and especially the “Three Things To Try Tomorrow” which ended each chapter (it’s always nice to have a way to put something you’ve just learned about into guided practice right away!). I loved the beautifully described lessons which I can easily adapt to the needs of my sixth graders. And I loved this quote, which sums up (for me) the purpose of technology in our classrooms today and every day:
Every classroom discussion, every digital interaction, is an opportunity to help children take their first steps into the global community, to see and define how, why, and when technology can be a vehicle for change. This increased interconnectivity sets the stage for students to develop deep compassion for one another and be upstanders in their community and the world. This is empowerment at its very core. Kids can own their learning, and technology is just one tool to get is there.