The Kids Are All Right

Independent School magazine has published an article I recently wrote based on Dr. danah boyd’s book, It’s Complicated. It’s an important read for parents, educators, and others who care about kids.

“While much of the rhetoric around teens’ use of social media is cloaked in language of fear, boyd argues that fearmongering is unnecessary and, indeed, counterproductive. The kids are all right, she argues, but they need – and, in many cases, want – the listening ear and guidance of concerned adults when navigating digital spaces.”

Read the article here.

Connected! My Digital Writing Life

I used Screencast-O-Matic to create a video autobiography of my digital writing life for the NWP Summer Institute.

A few quick reflections after creating the video

2008 was a really productive/fruitful time for me when it came to digital writing. I think some of that came as a result of feeling somewhat isolated in a new job. I tend to turn to digital spaces when I’m not getting my needs (curiosity, support, companionship, etc.) met physical spaces. Ideally, I’m in both physical and digital spaces writing and having conversations. My explosion of digital writing in 2008 was also the result of having encouragement from our Instructional Tech Director.

There’s a lot of crossover for me from one space to another. I’ll see a link to an article on a friend’s Facebook, tweet the link and discuss it on Twitter, and then summarize the conversation in a blog post.

Paused or Stuck

Tonight Bud Hunt is moderating an on and offline version of #engchat from ISTE 2011. It’ll focus on thoughtful pauses in our and our students’ reading and writing lives. You can read his post about the chat and contribute to the Google Doc.

I used to automatically assume that when kids stopped writing during free writing time they were stuck (or, a less charitable assumption, up to no good.) I would go up to students and offer to help or give feedback, but sometimes students perceived this as being in trouble. I also (needlessly?) spent time with students who just needed time to do things they didn’t need me for.

Pause 1

This year I started asking, “Are you paused or stuck?” (We had a discussion about potential differences between the two.) If paused, I moved on. If stuck, I could talk with the student about what he or she felt would help get him or her un-stuck.

I think the challenge for students (and for me) is to discern at what point being paused turns into being stuck. I’m not sure that I have the distinction fully formed in my mind. But I’m imagining that you can resume after a pause relatively quickly, the time it takes to retrieve that word you were searching your brain for or to read back over the last couple of sentences you’ve written. To get un-stuck seems like it requires something a bit more drastic.

Is Clean Up As Important As Crafting?

This weekend, I’m facilitating a conversation at EduCon, with Karen Blumberg, about Crafting Character. We’re hoping to have some discussion around how educators can reinforce students’ appropriate use of technology outside the classroom.

Here’s the thing- I think educators can reinforce appropriate use, but the kids aren’t always going to listen. Kids mess up. (Adults mess up, too.) And because they’re living online, they’ll mess up online, too.

Online mistakes have the potential to be harder than other mistakes. They’re the whack-a-mole of mistakes. I think we’re nearing a time, though, when many (most?) mistakes will be online. Someone’s always got a camera. Maybe kids will change their names to try to rid themselves of these mistakes once they enter “the real world” or maybe not.

So, I think equally important as the conversation about how to help kids make good choices, is how to help them cope when they make bad ones. What do you say to a girl who texted a topless picture to a friend that’s now all over school? How do we help kids develop the resilience that they need to face the experience of being bullied or the aftermath of being the bully? How can students narrate past digital lives they’re not proud of to employers when they hit the job market?

I’m hoping we get to talk about that, too.