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19 December 2013 @ 10:46 am
Tunnel Vision  
I admit to having tunnel vision from time to time. Sometimes the big picture is just too much, and I need to focus down on a component part before opening my eyes widely to take in more. Thankfully, I have colleagues (friends) who will point out when the blinders are cutting off real perception on my part.

I am not the only one who suffers from tunnel vision, of course. One of the people who wishes to reform education, Bill Gates, seems to have some problems with his blinders as well when it comes to technology and his belief that it will cure all ills if only applied correctly. Take, for instance, his insistence on using MOOCs (http://chronicle.com/blogs/onhiring/the-problem-with-bill-gatess-vision/41963) despite the evidence that few folks actually complete MOOCs. It is, as the author of this post proclaims, part of the corporatist view of education.

It also, though, demonstrates a tunnel vision of what technology can and cannot accomplish. Anyone who knows me knows that I love gadgets. Smart phones, tablets (yes, I have more than one), iPods, laptops, apps, you name it, I have probably bought it or it is on my list. But the gadgets I have actually play a role in my "career." Career Girl was texting me about the wonders of her mini iPad (she is a PC and Droid person but is slowly seeing the benefits of other devices). She was extolling the virtues of some of her recent experiences with apps for note-taking. I know. I use my tablets for note-taking, for social networking, for writing, for reading, and more. Have them supplanted more "ancient" tools totally? Nope. I use them as tools. And herein is one of my issues with the technology items on the newly designed CCSS assessments which tout technology when, in reality, the technology is not necessary.

Some of the new assessment examples ask kids to drag and drop sentences into a box in sequential or chronological order. How is that technology? Why not number the statements from 1-5? What does drag and drop really measure that cannot be measured by a numbering system? Take a look at apps, too. Some book apps simply have the book on screen. Some have extra bells and whistles. Look at those bells and whistles. Does unscrambling a word really help a kid enjoy and maybe comprehend a text? Games and activities are worksheets on the screen. We do not need one more worksheet, than you very much.

It is time to look at the big picture when it comes to books and reading. There is so much more to reading than the "pillars" of the National Reading Panel's findings (especially since they decided to ignore certain areas of reading in favor of their pillars) or the 4 corners of the text of CCSS, or the one book fits all approach now being promulgated in a risk to teach close reading or another standard or skill. We need to look right, left, up, down, sideways, catty-cornered, and more as we search for the best practices, the best books, the best approaches for our kids.
 
 
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