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Digital Dialogues: Creating Meaningful Learning For Students & Powerful Partnerships For Teachers
Background Information & Related Resources
The seed of this presentation was born while doing research for an article for Statement on the topic of navigating the New Digital Media in our classrooms. Specifically, a quote from Maryanne Wolf’s book, The Proust and the Squid:
“In writing the history of the early reading brain, I was surprised to realize that questions raised more than two millennia ago by Socrates about literacy address many concerns of the early twenty-first century. I came to see that Socrates’ worries about the transition from an oral culture to a literate one and the risks it posed, especially for young people, mirrored my own concerns about the immersion of our children into the digital world. Like the ancient Greeks we are embarked on a powerfully important transition - in our case from a written culture to one that is more digital and visual” (70).
-Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf 

While I share some of Maryanne Wolf’s concern, I also find daily examples in middle school and high school classrooms of how this immersion of our students into a more digital and visual world is creating unprecedented learning opportunities and new ways for students to demonstrate what they have learned. And often, these avenues are loaded with text and navigated through critical thinking. 

Although I find great promise for innovation and creativity in these increasingly literacy-rich digital environments, there is one component that deserves more attention and focus than others: collaboration and dialogue. The practice of new forms of collaboration and dialogue can dramatically leverage the technological tools and advance the teaching and learning in our classrooms.
This thought led me to Marc Prensky’s book "TEACHING DIGITAL NATIVES: Partnering for Real Learning" (Corwin, March 2010). While I disagree with some of his assumptions about digital natives, I wholeheartedly agree with his concept that the nouns of the digital landscape will continue to change and it is the verbs (critical thinking skills, higher-order thinking skills) that we need to focus on in our classrooms. 

1.    How can digital dialogues support my learning objectives?
2.    How can technology help me differentiate learning opportunities for my students?
3.    How am I modeling for my students that I am continually learning?
4.    Does my digital presence support student learning?
5.    How am I balancing "high tech" and "high touch" in my classroom? 

Additional Resources
Here you'll find the link to the PACE Starter Kit:  PACE Starter Kit
New York Times example of digital dialogues, "Learning Network Reading Club": Learning Blogs for Students
Examples from Travis Macy's classroom, HS Teacher at Evergreen HS: Driven Teaching & Learning
Digital Nation: life on the virtual frontier.
Prensky, Marc (2010). Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Willingham, Daniel T. (2009). Why Kids Don’t Like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Wolf, Maryanne (2007).  Proust and the Squid: The Story of Science of the Reading Brain. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.
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