Student Personal Tech Devices in the Classroom? A Cartoon Parable

“The Cameraman” – From Cartoonist Chris Ware, animator John Kuramoto and Ira Glass of This American Life. First grade teacher, Jeff Potter tells Ira about an art project and the impact of  personal “technology” in the classroom. 

“The camera really changed the way we behaved…. We lost our humanity.”

Were the cameras really responsible for the student insensitively to the fight? Was banning the cameras the only alternative the teachers had? I don’t know. I wasn’t there. 

But it does strike me that the cameras were also a catalyst to creativity, collaboration, and powerful student engagement. Is this a parable about balancing the benefits and liabilities of cell phones and other student personal technology in the classroom?

Hat tip to David Kwasigroh

How to Use Web 2.0 to Teach Literacy Strategies to Struggling Readers

This week I’m heading out to work with intermediate (grade 4-6) teachers on strategies to assist struggling readers.

We’ll focus on three core skill areas central to the Common Core standards – defining, summarizing and comparing using my guide to 18 Strategies for Struggling Readers. (free PDF file)

Plus I’ll introduce some great websites that they can use with the strategies – the new digital literacy meets the old text literacy.

There are two key elements in each skill area that can help students construct meaning and build background knowledge.


  • Before the formal definition has been introduced, students should be asked to make connections between their prior knowledge and the term.
  • After the term has been defined, students need activities to more deeply process the term. The focus should be on descriptions, not definitions


  • Students should be asked to make their own judgments about what’s important to them (instead of just repeating the details the teacher highlights).
  • Students will be able to more readily summarize, if they are asked to share what they’ve learned with an audience other than the teacher. They need use a text structure to organize their thinking.


  • Students should develop the comparison, not simply repeat the model that we present to them.
  • Student should be asked to share what they learned from the comparison. They need use a text structure to organize their thinking.

I’ve selected some Web 2.0 sites that will enable students to use the strategies in a variety online settings. I’ve picked free sites that have easy learning curves.  For example, we will use One Word to negotiate meaning through images, explore summarizing text structures with Five Card Flickr and design comparisons with Wordle and Books nGram Viewer.

Working with words

  1. Explore word frequency with Wordle
  2. Search published works with Google Books Ngram Viewer
  3. Foster writing skills with One Word writing prompts
  4. Expand vocabulary and word choice with TelescopicText 

Working with words and images

  1. Create mindmaps and graphic organizers with  
  2. Drag and drop words to create poem based on a photo with Pic-Lits
  3. Foster visual thinking and creative writing with Five Card Flickr

Kid-friendly search sites

  1. SweetSites
  2. Ask Kids

For more ways to use Web 2.0 sites in the classroom
download a free PDF at my post
87 Free Web 2.0 Projects For the K-12 Classroom

Image credit flickr/Mike Licht

Vintage 1910 French Postcard Predicts Bill Gates and NCLB

What an uncanny prediction of contemporary American education – digitized information being force-fed into bored students. Looks like a vision of one of those computerized test prep programs guaranteed to bring up the standardized test scores.

But I’m not sure – do you think that’s educational savior - Bill Gates, or an overpaid public school teacher unwilling to give away his collective bargaining rights?

For another satirical look at the current education scene see yesterday’s post –
John Stewart “Teachers are Destroying America


Click image to enlarge

Part of series of images (circa 1910) attributed to French artist Villemard in which he predicted Paris life in 2000. Hat tip to D’Arcy Norman

For another uncanny prediction, see my postFirst Google Map Discovered – Created in 1652

Jon Stewart “Teachers are Destroying America”

Thanks Jon for satirizing the latest attempt to pit one segment of  working Americans against another.

“The greed that led you into the profession?” I started teaching for $6700 a year and got to spend my summers standing on a ladder – always hoping I could finish the last of my paint jobs before heading back into the classroom.

Enjoy the clip – when it comes to education, there’s little to laugh about these days.
For another satire on the current education scene see my post “Vintage 1910 French Postcard Predicts Bill Gates and NCLB.”

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Crisis in Dairyland – Message for Teachers
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

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