I chose Create Compose Connect! Reading, Writing, and Learning with Digital Tools by Jeremy Hyler and Troy Hicks as a focus for my second professional reading. I chose this text because I find digital literacy to be a not only interesting but integral component of a successful classroom. I also find it difficult to stay current in these practices, however. Because of this Hyler and Hick’s text was a perfect fit for my professional reading.
There were several aspects of this text that I greatly appreciated. The first being that the authors were honest in their digital literacy origins. Hyler is honest in his description of his process from his beginnings of being a member of the “cell phone brigade,” a community of teachers who pride themselves in the confiscating of cell phones and various other distracting technologies that can be found at most any school, to a teacher facilitator in a nearly paperless classroom. I appreciated the way that the text began with a personal recount of Hyler’s process because it makes the act of incorporating digital literacies in one’s own classroom seem much more feasible, as most teachers find themselves somewhere in the middle of the spectrum rather than at either end.
While discussing the spectrum, it is also important to note that Hyler and Hicks do not treat a paperless classroom as the end goal. They are aware that each educator reading this text is picking it up from a different starting point, with different levels of digital comfort, is combating different school policies, has different resources available, and different end goal in mind. They never belittle a starting point or pride one purpose over another, rather, each reader is made to feel accepted and proud to be bettering their classroom through the incorporation of one or two additional digital literacy tools. In fact, much like Dean in What Works, Hicks and Hyler reccommend starting small and incorporating just a few components before moving on to the next.
A few new digital literacy tools that I intend to incorporate into my classroom next year include Grammar Girl, “an educational podcast designed to give the listener tips and grammar exercises to help tackle all of the grammar, punctuation, and word choice rules” (Hyler, Hicks, p. 30), “This I Believe” essays, Wordle and Audacity as a part of the prewriting process, and believe it or not, Google Maps in unit exploring myths and the areas of the world they represent.
I also intend to incorporate Twitter memoirs in the form of paper tweets because I love the idea but am not at an appropriate level of comfortability to incorporate Twitter into my classroom just yet. I appreciate that the authors make the reader feel that feelings such as this are perfectly acceptable. They often provide slightly more traditional alternatives to some of the activities that are beneficial to incorporate if the initial example feels to uncomforatble or is not feasible in a particular enviornment be it due to resources or school policies. In fact, Hyler explains that a certain level of comfort by the facilitator is necessary for the implementation’s success in the classroom. He describes an experiement with his own students that went wrong because he incorporated the use of cell phones simply to try incorporating the technology without any real educational benefit. He explains that he spent his time bouncing around trying to oversee its proper use rather than creating an authentic and useful learning experience highlighted through the use of digital tools (Hyler, Hicks, p. 3).
As an overarching point, the text highlights the importance of incorporating digital literacies but at ones own comfort level and in a way that truely enhances the learning process. As the author’s state, “The foundation of English and language arts is not changing, but the way our students are learning is. As educators we are responsible for shifting our thinking on how we do things in teh classroom. We need to teach students how to be effective learners of English through these different venues” (Hyler, Hicks, p. 33).