What’s your Epic Fail Day story?

Yesterday, I reviewed Bill Ferriter’s new book (Teaching the iGeneration) and saw at his blog — The Tempered Radical — that he was hosting an Epic Fail Story Day for August 12. He wants to make sure that folks know it is not about the failing, but about the resilience of teachers and students to find ways to work around problems that do arise from technology.

He writes:

Designed as an effort to raise awareness about the importance of being digitally resilient in the 21st Century Classroom and to help teachers new to technology understand that even digital veterans have computer meltdowns, Epic Tech Fail Day authors should write short pieces about the struggles that they’ve had in their work with technology…and then share lessons learned from their disasters.

Bill has all the details about Epic Fail Day at his site, and he also provides some suggestions for folks for writing. And he provides his own Epic Fail Story, too about some unexpected trails he took his students on. He will be choosing a few random writers to receive a free copy of his new book, which is certainly worth the price of a blog post!

So, what’s your story?

Peace (in the sharing),

Book Review: Teaching the iGeneration

Look inside Teaching the iGeneration: 5 Easy Ways to Introduce Essential Skills With Web 2.0 Tools!

This new book by Bill Ferriter and Adam Garry can join the ranks of Troy Hicks’ Digital Writing Workshop and Will Richardson’s Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom as a reliable guide that I can hand off to teachers who want to know how to take that first step into bringing technology into the classroom.

Teaching the iGeneration: 5 Easy Ways to Introduce Essential Skills with Web 2.0 Tools is jam-packed with useful information about the rationale of technology and also, with easily adapted reproducible hand-outs that will do a lot to ease the concerns of some teachers around assessment, reflection and exploration. And, the hand-outs are linked online to the book’s website, making it even easier to use (and you don’t have to buy the book to use the resources, although it would probably be nice to support the writers if you can). The handouts are geared both towards students at work in the classroom and the teachers, themselves.

Here, for example are the resources for the chapters around multimedia:

I really like how the authors (Disclosure: I know Bill through various online networks and he sent me this book as a complimentary gift, just to be open about the review) group the topics in the book around the themes of Information Fluency, Persuasion, Communication, Collaboration and Problem Solving. Those do seem like important themes for the classroom, and the writers argue successfully about students harnessing technology to meet those goals.

At one point, the authors list out what draws teens to digital projects:

  • Self-directed exploration (the freedom to find something of interest and delve deep into that topic, with multimedia as one tool)
  • Peers to demonstrate authority and expertise (by turning to teach other for learning as much as to the teacher)
  • Students to wrestle with meaningful issues (as they use technology to enter the public sphere and engage in matters that impact local and global communities)

It is also admirable that Ferriter and Garry present many of the projects that use technology around the theme of global poverty and social justice. They note that the target audience for the book is middle and high school teachers, whose students passions around injustice can often be motivation for creating projects that can make a difference in the world. “… global poverty can provide a natural context for digital projects that have meaning and motivate kids,” they write, although noting that any of the projects outlined here can be adapted for other important topics.

The book begins by addressing ways in which students can learn to manage information in the era of information overload, and then moves on to writing to persuade world leaders on issues, using digital storytelling, collaborating on challenging topics and ends with an interview with a student, Michael, talking about what he learned from using technology in the classroom. I liked the way the student voice framed the ending of the book and brought us into the classroom through Michael’s voice.

I’ll end by noting something Ferriter and Garry  wrote in the introduction:

Today’s learning environment — influenced by the technology already being used by students outside of school — ” ….requires nothing more than a teacher who is willing to show students how the tools they have already embraced can make learning efficient, empowering and intellectually satisfying. Are you ready to be that teacher?

I hope so. Teaching the iGeneration is one of the many emerging resources that can help you on that path.

Peace (in the sharing),

What I wrote about when I had nothing to write about

In my first year as a newspaper reporter, there were days when I had not beat to cover and no assignment, and I would be hanging around the office, desperate for something to do (I was paid per story). One day, my editor told me to get in my car and drive around. He pointed me to the smallest town in our coverage area. It was a community of about 100 people, tops.

Head there and find some news, he said. Something must be happening.

I did as he told, although I was skeptical. I got into my car and drove. I wandered through the small town in the middle of the day. There were no stores there, just homes, and everyone was at work or doing something else. They were not making news on their front porch.

Keep looking, my editor said, when I found a pay phone to call him. Knock on doors, he suggested.

Instead, I drove to the next town, where there was a convenience store and grabbed a soda and a snack. I relaxed for a spell. I drove again into the small town, just wandering. Just looking. And finding nothing.

I returned later to the office, my notebook empty. I worried about facing the editor, whom I wanted to impress.

Well? my editor asked. What did you find?

Nothing, I said. It’s quiet.

Some days are like that, he said, surprising me. I’ll pay you anyway.

I went home that night, not having written a thing.

Some days, there’s not much to write about. But still, I write. You just read it.

Peace (in the remembering),