Monday, January 23, 2017

This is what democracy looks like!

Photo credit: Brent Johnson, Newark Star-Ledger

This post is not about whether you voted for Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton.  It's not whether you lean left, moderate, or right.  It is about how the power of democracy is in the hands of the people.

Some of my students asked if they could watch the inauguration of our 45th president on Friday.  As they asked, a few others booed.  
"No, we can't do that!"  I said to the students who booed.  "Regardless of whom you wanted elected, you still have to respect the office of the President of our country."  We talked briefly about ways they could show they were on board with policies (or not) in the classroom, in our school, our state, and our country.  When did we get so polarized?

I thought about that a lot when I got on the bus in front of my church, heading to Washington, D.C, with my daughters.  What does it mean to live in a democracy?  How can we safely express dissent in this country?  
This sign felt like my answer.  Our First Amendment rights allow us to disagree, and to do so publicly.  And so, people gathered.  In large cities and small, around the United States and the world.  And each was peaceful.  And that, is what democracy is supposed to look like.

 So, whether you agree with our President or not, and no matter which way you feel with his cabinet appointments (especially with Betsy DeVoss as Secretary of Education) whether you marched somewhere or you thought the marches were stupid, please exercise your right in this country.  You have the right to express your opinions.  Call your elected officials and let them know.  They're waiting to hear from you! 
I hope you have a good week!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Does 1:1 technology make you read less?

I was chaperoning a movie night at school on Friday, and a former students approached me.  "Do you have a copy of Divergent that I could read?  Every time I go to the library, it's checked out."
"Of course I do.  Do you want me to get it for you now if it's on the shelf?"
"Yes, please."
A few minutes later, she was walking into the auditorium with the book in her hand, and I'd matched a reader with a book.

I wish I could say that I felt the same excitement about being a "matchmaker" this year.  It's not the kids.  I really enjoy them!  Or maybe it is the kids.  And what we've done to them.  This is the first year I've noticed it, but it also happens to be the first year that we've gone 1:1 with iPads.

So what's different?
At this time last year, students had read double the number of books this year's students have.  You read that right.                                                                        


This year, students think nothing of taking 6 weeks to finish a book.  Six weeks into a book and you hardly remember the beginning!  Many talk about how they don't love to read.  And yet, when they get time to read in my class (which is almost daily) they seem to enjoy it.  They can read paper copies, online versions, or audio books.  It doesn't make any difference.  Outside of my classroom, the default is no longer to pick up their book when their work is finished.  Instead, they pick up their iPads.

I'm curious.  Are you seeing this in your classrooms, too?