James Paul Gee talks about affinity spaces which are “often sites on the internet and contribute in many different ways, large or small, with different people for different reasons” (2013, Ch. 20, para. 12). The internet is a space where people can share, learn and gather together about a particular interest. Information can be found digitally by a simple click of a button. However, Eli Pariser (2011) warns us that we need to read information outside our “filter bubble” in order to expand our thinking and balance the information we are taking in.
So what is my current InfoDiet? My usual affinity spaces include Pinterest, TeachersPayTeachers, Google search and Twitter. As much as I would like to say I have a balanced InfoDiet, I certainly do not. In order to revise my InfoDiet, I branched out beyond my usual sources of information. To begin my revision, I simply used Google and searched for a topic that is completely opposite of what I usually research for my classes.
#1: The Atlantic
I chose this source because there are many articles by Kentaro Toyama that contradict my current views about using technology in the classroom. Toyama, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Information, wrote an article called, Why Technology alone won’t fix schools. I was surprised at how much I nodded my head in agreement with his views as I read. His final statement, “If tech-industry parents are right about their children, then what the U.S. education system needs above all isn’t more technology, but a deliberate allocation of high-quality adult supervision focused on those who need it most” (Toyama, 2015). Even though I strive to use technology in my classroom on a daily basis, I agreed with Toyama in that human interaction is powerful.
I first read an article by this association that outlined the best use of technology for children up to age 8. Although it was very interesting, I found something even more helpful on their main website. I was happy to see how much relevant information was available for the age group I currently teach through the site’s twitter handle (@NAEYC). I also began to think about sharing this source with my class parents. I am currently following NAEYC on twitter and will pass along useful tips to my parents this year!
A colleague of mine is against using Raz Kids, an online reading program. She feels it doesn’t support reading development appropriately and doesn’t align with the Developmental Reading Assessments (DRA), an assessment of a child’s reading capabilities. I found a thesis by Jennifer M. Mackmin comparing the two programs. Mackmin’s study concluded that, “…five out of ten students were provided with texts from Raz Kids program that were several levels above or below that the student should be instructed at according the DRA” (p. 28). From this new perspective, I am currently rethinking the use of this program for this upcoming year and how I can align the program with a student’s DRA level. I am looking forward to having another area to research beyond MSU’s library.
Throughout the week I continued to visit each resource and I will continue to research affinity spaces beyond my usual sites. I realized it’s more interesting and insightful to educate yourself in an opposite view instead of just researching agreeable information. Although I didn’t agree with everything I read, I learned a lot and, because of that, I can begin to back up my opinions and realize that my views may not be correct.
Gee, J. P. (2013). The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students through Digital Learning. [Kindle]. Retrieved from http://amazon.com.
Mackmim, J. (2010, January 18). How Does the Assessment Information Gained From the Literacy Software Program Raz Kids Compare to the DRA Assessment Information? Retrieved August 5, 2015.
Pariser, E. (2011, March 1). Eli Pariser: Beware online “filter bubbles” Retrieved August 8, 2015, from http://youtu.be/B8ofWFx525s
Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8. (2012). Retrieved August 5, 2015, from http://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/positions/PS_technology_WEB2.pdf
Toyama, K. (2015, June 3). Why Technology Alone Won’t Fix Schools. Retrieved August 5, 2015.