professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Audience and Purpose

It is that time of year again: spring conference time. How do I know? My Inbox is being besieged with emails from Pearson and other companies inviting me to come to a demo presentation of a new PROGRAM guaranteed to help me (the clueless one) meet the mandates of CCSS and/or STAAR. It happens in the fall, too. Ads for PROGRAMS. They offer me $$$ in coupons for their OWN products if I will sit in on a sales pitch. Having been married to a salesman (now, thankfully retired) for 40 years, I know the drill. I also know that if I were offered REAL money, I still would elect to stay away. Now I have a delete key, and I know how to use it. I have also mastered the art of walking the exhibit floor and ignoring all the enticements to come into the booth and see the latest lifesaving product. No thanks. I hit the publishers' booths, look at forthcoming books, chat with reps, and then take some ARCs and head back to the hotel room to read. Better PD than sitting through those presentations on the NEXT BIG THING. The problem here is that these companies and their overly eager booth workers do not know their AUDIENCE. If they did, they would jump away from me and instead lick their fangs over some other person in the aisle, someone looking for the panacea that does NOT exist.

Twitter this morning had a link to an article entitled "Common Core Checklist: What to Know Before You Buy." How nice of CCSS to tell me what to buy. Predictably, the checklist for ELAR was a recitation of the CCSS doctrine (here is the link to the article, see for yourself: It is all about evaluating PROGRAMS on a tech site. I was hoping for maybe some insight into APPS and not PROGRAMS. Is this app more than simply a worksheet online or on the screen? Is this an app that extends beyond the text and offers something extra (if not, why have it)? Is this an app that will work in a classroom that is not fortunate enough to have 1:1 tablet access? Is it a mobile app that could be used on a cell phone (since they are more available in the classrooms I visit)? Better yet, is this an app whose underpinnings aligns not with CCSS but with what we know works to motivate and engage readers, to build community, to create more independence? If not, why should I spend time buying it and learning all about it? Why not invest instead in buying BOOKS? Invest in readers.

Yesterday I watched a how-to guide for close reading that just about brought me to my knees. The page of text looked very much like a madman with markers and sticky notes and pencils had just decided to create art from a static page of text. Is this how we do close reading in real life (or as Donalyn Miller's new book indicates "in the wild")? If this is truly what we want teachers to do, promise me this: use the classics, please. Do not mess with YA or children's books and ruin the reading experience. Go ahead and mark up something that is hundreds of years old and inaccessible to kids today (because it is no longer relevant) and leave the GOOD books alone. Kids deserve to read without having to have utensils in hand. They deserve to read and NOT DO A DARNED THING. They have the right to just read. Now, I think that I wll go practice what I preach: time to start a new book. No markers necessary.
Tags: apps, books, ccss, close reading, programs
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