My Data – MINE. MINE! MINE?

I was surprised by some questions from adults concerning data privacy while I was talking to students about internet safety and digital citizenship. Thus the inspiration for this post.

  • Terms of Service
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Privacy Policy

How often have you read them? I encourage you to read ALL terms of service agreements. Why? Who do you think those terms are meant to protect? (Hint: It isn’t you.)

Key point – If something is free, ask yourself why? How are they making money? Someone spent time and effort creating that app/website or setting up the “free” wi-fi you are about to use. People must eat, live, etc. Even if something is NOT completely free, they may decide to make more money off your data. Last year AT&T (DirecTV) changed their terms:

3.4 You grant AT&T and its designees a worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive and fully sub-licensable and transferable right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display your Profile Information, in whole or part, and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed related to AT&T Access ID, Account Management or the services associated with your AT&T Access ID. AT&T is under no obligation to post or use any Profile Information that you may provide, and AT&T may remove your Profile Information at any time in its sole discretion. You represent and warrant that you own or otherwise control all necessary rights, consents and permissions to your Profile Information necessary to submit such material and to grant AT&T all of the license rights granted herein and that such submissions do not violate the privacy, publicity, or contract rights or any intellectual property or other rights of any person.

Keywords that jumped out at us: perpetual, irrevocable, transferable, modify, and publish. Here was the fun part. So I talked with customer service. Trying to explain to DirecTV why this was a problem was challenging. First, “irrevocable”. So if we agree, according to this, we cannot change our minds later.

Second, the section about modifying our profile and publishing it (which they insisted they don’t do).  In theory, DirecTV could modify our profile to make it appear we watch shows we don’t watch. Why is this a problem? Years from now, we, or you, might want to run for public office. Ha ha. 😊 But seriously, they could increase the price of advertising by making it look like more people watch a show than are actually watching. The price of a Super Bowl ad is significantly more than other football games because of viewership numbers.

DirecTV is a service we PAID FOR so why do we have to give up our privacy? We don’t. CANCELLED. While writing this, I noticed they recently changed their privacy policy and my first thought was, ‘They listened!’ Then I read it.  The keywords listed above are gone, but there’s this:

Web browsing and app information includes things like the websites you visit or mobile

apps you use, on or off our networks. It includes internet protocol addresses and URLs,

pixels, cookies and similar technologies, and identifiers such as advertising IDs and device

IDs. It can also include information about the time you spend on websites or apps, the links

or advertisements you see, search terms you enter, items identified in your online shopping

carts and other similar information.

Items in my online shopping cart? You mean DirecTV wants to know about the baby items I ordered as a gift to send me targeted advertising? No, thank you.

Next up, free apps! They need to make money so what are people giving up to use them? The best example I share with students is Snapchat. Do a quick search for some of the words mentioned above and check out section 3:

  • perpetual? ✔
  • irrevocable? ✔(irrevocably)
  • transferable? ✔
  • modify? ✔
  • publish? ✔

Snap.com can delete your pictures or publish them without your permission. It is a jaw dropping moment for many. 

Free games. I used to enjoy mindlessly playing Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery on my iPad until the terms changed:

https www.jamcity.com/privacyandterms/ Data we receive when you use the Services: We also may collect the following Personal Data from our website or your device when you are using the Services or are navigating to the Services from other (third party) websites: certain information about your computer or mobile device including operating system, software version, Internet protocol (IP) address, user settings, MAC address, cookie identifiers, mobile carrier, mobile advertising and other unique identifiers, language, details about your browser, location information (including inferred location based off your IP address), Internet service provider, pages that you visit before, during and after using the Services, information about the links you click, and other information about how you use the Services. Information we collect may be associated with your account and the devices you use.

“…pages you visit before, during, and after using the Services.” !!!!!!!

Another point to consider is how you log into websites. Some allow you to log in with your Google or Microsoft account. I noticed that the Microsoft permissions were less intrusive than the Google permissions. Often, there is a line that the app permissions include being able to “permanently delete” all your files. Recently that seems to have changed, but still something to watch for.

(If you’ve seen similar intrusive permissions, we’d love to know. Comment below.)

Something to consider from Tools and Weapons by Brad Smith and Carol Ann Browne (#RecommendedRead):

but, as I learned from individuals ranging from senior generals to a West Point cadet, one can't graduate from an American military acad- emy without taking a course in ethics.29 The same is not yet true for computer science majors at many American universities.

Ethics should be taught in schools, and not just at the university level. Not everyone creating apps attends university and not all care about your privacy.

Another gem for keeping your information safe: Don’t make it so easy. If a website gives you the password reset question options for mother’s given name, pick your favorite cartoon character. They need to know that you know the answers to your security questions, but we fail to see why they need to know answers to questions that may be on credit card applications. Also from Tools and Weapons, hackers search emails for the word “password” which often contain your password.

And the next time you are prompted to change your password YET AGAIN and add special characters, respond with this link: Best practices for passwords updated after original author regrets his advice. 

Speaking of passwords, after all that doom and gloom, here’s something that might make you smile:

Differentiated Learning for ALL

NOTE: OPINION PIECE! KARYN’S PERSPECTIVE FROM EXPERIENCES AS A STUDENT AND TEACHER

During a conference call regarding accessibility, the group was discussing inclusion, accessibility, differentiation, and other student needs. There was a comment about students with high intellectual abilities, but not necessarily high social skills. What are we doing in the classroom for them?

My own childhood and my siblings’ experiences, led me to have the following opinions:

  • Cluster groups placed in a class may not always be the best idea for helping with social interactions. As an adult, in the workplace, most of us work with a variety of people who have different ways of doing things, different ways of thinking, and we often need to work together. Why not encourage that at a young age?
  • High IQ doesn’t necessarily mean high achiever. I’ve had to tell parents that their children didn’t quality for gifted programs because they were high achievers, but didn’t have the high IQ. Some were upset, but, honestly, high achievers seemed to do better in school.

High IQ/high achievers should NOT be turned into tutors for the class all the time. They need to be challenged, too. Yes, it’s hard in a classroom with a wide spread of needs and abilities, but with so much online learning available, they can be challenged! (Though, personally, I loved being a “junior” teacher.)

Finding resources online is not as simple as I thought, but I will continue to search for more! These are a bit dated, but I still found the content applicable.

Differentiating Between Gifted and High Achieving Students
Key point: students with high IQs can also have learning disabilities/discrepancies.

Smart and Bored? What Do High Achievers Need? By Samantha Cleaver Towards the end of the article, she shared a strategies list.

Meeting the Needs of Gifted Students: Differentiating Mathematics and Science Instruction

Highly Gifted Children in Full Inclusion Classrooms by Kathi Kearney

Gifted Kids with Learning Problems…The Twice Exceptional Child

Shouldn’t we strive to make sure ALL students feel included and are encouraged to reach the top of their abilities?

#MSFTEduChat TweetMeet – #BestOf2019

Have you ever noticed a group of tweets with the same # (hashtag)? It might mean that someone you know is participating in a TweetMeet (also known as a Twitter chat).

A TweetMeet is when people “meet” by tweeting with a specific hashtag during a designated time frame.  Questions may be tweeted live or posted ahead of time and you respond by using the letter A (for answer) and the question number. For example, Q1 What do you do? might be answered with A1 I work in technology and then the hashtag.

Coming up on December 17th, there is a MASSIVE TweetMeet that will be the perfect chance to try out a TweetMeet, if you haven’t already, with an incredibly supportive group. Microsoft Education hosts a TweetMeet once a month using the hashtag #MSFTEduChat and a hashtag for the topic.

Image

December’s topic is going to be EXTRA special! Former #MSFTEduChat hosts have been invited back for a #BestOf2019 event. About 290 former hosts are facilitating (including me!), inviting others around the world. 

Back in 2017, I was asked to be a host for the Inclusive and Accessible Classrooms TweetMeet. Being asked to participate as a host was an incredible honor and I’ve kept in contact with many of my fellow hosts. At the time, I had no idea what to expect and was astounded by all the organization from Excel spreadsheets to image files to schedules culminating in a live Skype call with the other hosts during the chat.

The day of the chat, I was at the school where I used to teach to give internet safety assemblies so in between assemblies, I sat on the stage, headphones on, and dove right in. At the time, the #MSFTEduChat didn’t have all the language tracks as it does now and I am continually impressed to see the program shift and grow. It can get a little difficult to follow with so many participants so I often go back later to search and see what wonderful tweets I may have missed. If you speak another language, you can filter the tweets for your language, but, at this time, there isn’t a # for English. I would love to see one in the future. The TweetMeet can go by so quickly that I don’t always have time to use the translator in Twitter to read through tweets and I know I risk missing fabulous contributions.

IN THE MEANTIME,  @TweetMeetcame up with a search string for Twitter that works well. For TweetDeck the search string is lang:en.

This month, there will be TEN other languages, each with its own hashtag. For example, #TweetMeetES for Spanish.

Twitter header: Home, Moments, Notifications, Messages then #MSFTEduChat in green with Top, Latest (highlighted), People, Photos, Videos, News, Broadcasts below on a black backgroundDuring (or after) the event, search #MSFTEduChat on Twitter then click Latest for the most recent posts. Some prefer to use TweetDeck. Twitter has directions for using TweetDeck and you might find this YouTube tutorial by Marjolein Hoekstra helpful. She is one of the #MSFTEduChat organizers (who is also an amazing OneNote guru!) Find her on Twitter @OneNoteC and I also suggest you follow the @TweetMeet account.

All are welcome to following along, but replying and participating in the chat is SO MUCH BETTER!

“But what if I’m not available at that time?” No problem! When able, search #MSFTEduChat to add your thoughts to the conversations or pre-schedule your tweets with TweetDeck. A few times, I have been busy during the window so I go on later and type #MSFTEduChat and then Q1 or A1 to see the questions and answers. Then Q2 and A2, etc.

Here are the questions and times:

TweetMeet question timings for PST #MSFTEduChat 10am Kindly introduce yourself. Use #MSFTEduChat in all tweets. 10:06 Q1 What was your Best of 2019 experience? Share your story or picture. 10:23 Q2 Which event, product or announcement wins 1st prize on your Best of 2019 list? Why? 10:40 Q3 Which people, courses or resources helped you excel this year? How? 10:57 Q4 How can Microsoft make 2020 an even better year for you and your students? #MicrosoftEdu with the MIcrosoft logo in the top left corner

I am so grateful to be a repeat host and have learned a lot during the process. In fact, I now co-host 2 much smaller monthly Twitter chats: #HybridEdu one Thursday a month at 6pm PST with @VictoriaTheTech and #SpEdTechChat the first Wednesday of the month at 8pm PST with @KristinOropeza. Both are archived in Wakelet and, thanks to hosting the #MSFTEduChat, I’ve learned to use TweetDeck to schedule the question tweets allowing me to relax and enjoy the conversation without watching the clock too much.

You can also learn more about TweetMeets on the Microsoft Education blog. Hopefully you will be able to join us!

 

Keeping Your Sanity During the Holidays

Updated November 2019: The holidays are approaching and it can be a hectic time for some. Here are a few free apps/websites/programs that help us keep our sanity.

DECEMBER 2019 UPDATE: Check out this Wakelet collection of Google activities from @EricCurts, adapted by me (@Filibuster3) for Microsoft along with other holiday ed tech ideas.

Purple OneNote logoFirst off, in case you haven’t noticed a trend in our blogs, we LOVE ONENOTE! It is a free program from Microsoft that is app-based, software, and web-based so it is with you wherever you go! If you don’t already have a Microsoft account, here’s a referral link which gives you some extra storage space. Best Twitter account to follow for updates? Definitely @mtholfsen!

schoolhouse at night with star trails in the skyWe posted a YouTube video to our channel that shows how K uses OneNote, Office Lens, and CopyMeThat for organizing recipes, but OneNote can organize so much more! Add a checklist for things to do, gifts to purchase, cards to send, what to pack for that holiday trip, etc. Create a receipt section and use the Insert/Camera feature (or Office Lens, another free app from Microsoft) to keep track of receipts and costs. (Tax season is coming!)

Copy Me That logo with grey and red kitchen utensilsIf you aren’t familiar with CopyMeThat, check out the video. It starts around the 3:55 mark. One click and those online recipes are put into your collection without all the distractions and extra information. It is like Reading View (Edge and Safari browsers) or Read Mode (Wakelet) for recipes!

Microsoft Sway logoWant to collect family pictures? Create a shared OneNote notebook and let everyone add their memories, pictures, audio messages, and more! Another option to keep the kids busy is have them create a Sway including videos, pictures, audio files, etc. You can insert the Sways directly into OneNote. Aren’t familiar with Sway? It’s a free app from Microsoft. Again, here’s a referral code if you don’t already have a FREE Microsoft account. (Using the code gets you and us a little extra OneDrive storage. Everyone wins!)

black pen making white swish on a blue backgroundOnce you have that FREE Microsoft account, you also will have access to Microsoft Whiteboard which is now web-based if you have an Office 365 account, but is also an Apple app and Windows 10 app/feature which work with personal Microsoft accounts and Office 365 accounts (work/school). Collaborate on boards to write messages, reminders, leave notes for yourself, etc. We use OneNote for holiday shopping lists, but you could also use Microsoft Whiteboard. Follow @ianmikutel on Twitter for helpful tips and updates.

green and white Flipgrid logoIf family and friends are not able to be with you, consider using Flipgrid to create video messages. (Also good for entertaining children! Give them a prompt. Suggestions: favorite family memory, what makes you thankful, why is someone thankful for you, funniest memory from this year, etc. Recently, K tweeted an idea to have kids describe how someone in their family makes their favorite dish during the holidays. When she taught preschool, her school did a similar project for Mother’s Day. A favorite? “My mom makes pizza!” “How does she make it?” “She picks up the phone and calls Pizza Hut!”) It can also be used within Wakelet (Learn about Wakelet later in this post or read our full blogpost on Wakelet.)

Seeing AI - Turning the visual world into an audible experience.Have trouble reading the small print on ingredients? Use Seeing AI (iOS) to have it read to you or scan the barcode to identify the object. Do you have a family member who is having difficulty remembering people? Tap the 3 line icon in the top left to open Face Recognition. Take pictures of family members and label them with their relationship: Carl, your youngest son, or Violet, your granddaughter. When they use the Person feature with faces you’ve entered, it will tell them who is there. Here’s a quick overview of Seeing AI.

Wakelet

 

A few months after originally writing this post in 2018, we learned about Wakelet and haven’t looked back since. Similar to OneNote, you can use it for a variety of resources. One feature that makes it unique is the collaboration feature. Share a contributor link to allow others (even if they don’t have Wakelet accounts!) to add to a collection. Use it for YouTube videos, family pictures, important files organized by topic, or read our Wakelet blogpost for more incredible ways to use Wakelet, which is web-based, app-based, and FREE!

Need more activities? Create a family secret code using Microsoft Font Maker. Open Excel and create pixel art family portraits or holiday images.

 

You don't always have to agree with someone, but it should take much effort to be nice.

One thing to remember during the holidays, you don’t always have to agree with someone, but it shouldn’t take much effort to be nice.

 

PAUSE P-Is it positive? A-Is it accurate? U-Is it understandable? S-Is it spam? E-Is it enlightening? Before you post or send, pause and consider if it is Postive, Accurate, Understandable (check for clarity and accessiblity), Spam (fake news), and is it Enlightening (or Educational)? Consider if it will make a Difference (PAUSED) Will it make things better or worse?If someone upsets you, before responding, think about if whatever you say will make a difference or remember that they may be going through things you don’t know about. PAUSE before responding, whether in person or digitally.

 

🎁HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM OUR FAMILY TO YOURS!

banner with 3 dogs: Filibuster (basset hound) in a Santa hat and green coat "The Original Filibuster" and then Dug, a boxer in reindeer antlers and TeddyRoo, a golden dog with a Santa hat, all in front of presents and a Christmas tree - banner along the bottom "Happy Holidays to All!"

Save, Share, and Stockpile Easily: The accessible way to curate and collaborate

Many of our posts focus on educational technology tools. This post discusses Wakelet, which we feel is useful for anyone who uses the internet.

In 2018, we posted about URL shorteners, making it easier to share resources. Since then, we’ve discovered a new favorite tool, Wakelet.

Wakelet is a wonderful way to save bookmarks so you can access them in any browser on any device, helpful for those of us who jump between browsers and devices. It works best in Chrome, but K also uses it in Edge Dev, the new Chromium version of Microsoft Edge. However, it isn’t JUST for bookmarks!

Share Collection menu from Wakelet. QR code on the left, URL at the bottom with a copy button to the right and icons for Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Google Classroom, Remind, and Microsoft TeamsShare your collections from within Wakelet to Google Classroom, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Remind, or Microsoft Teams. It also provides a QR code and URL. Set your collections to private (just you), unlisted (requires the viewer have the link), or public (open to the world).

Another incredible feature? Collaboration! Invite contributors by name (if connected on Wakelet), email, or with a shared link. Bonus? They can ONLY add to your collection, not delete or edit other items in the collection. They don’t even need a Wakelet account to contribute.

Teachers can easily collect resources from students.  Last May, K helped a teacher whose students make Sways, YouTube videos, and PowerPoints for an end of year project. By sending a contributor link through Remind, the students could add to the collection so the whole class could see the final projects.

Accessibility is important and Wakelet has added features to address this. As of July, Wakelet now has Immersive Reader, a Microsoft accessibility tool. Check out our YouTube channel for the tutorial. But that’s not all! They created another wave of goodness with Read Mode! 

A few browsers have an option for a reading view. With a quick click, the distractions surrounding many articles magically disappear, allowing for easier viewing and printing. Wakelet has added a similar feature with Read Mode. 

But wait, there’s more! And, no, it isn’t an additional $9.95 with shipping. As with everything else in Wakelet, it is FREE! Once in Read Mode, not only do the distractions go away, but you can also use Immersive Reader with all the helpful tools such as Read Aloud, which reads the article in your choice of speeds AND language. Change the theme to add a color background. Personally, I like the black theme with white text for easier viewing. Teaching your students grammar? Have them highlight parts of speech. 

As a teacher, I appreciate the ease of Wakelet to share lists of resources with students, but worry about distractions? Or clickbait trying to tempt you away from the initial article? 

With Read Mode, no more! 

With a simple click of the icon next to the article, you get just the text of the article. Click the Visit Original button to view the full article with images. Click the Immersive Reader button to have the article read to you at varying speeds with translation, grammar tools, line focus, theme colors, and other options to make the reading process easier.

What can you add to Wakelet? Links, text, YouTube videos, Tweets, bookmarks, images, PDFs, and files straight from your Google Drive. Once added, you can edit the descriptions and titles of most (not Tweets). Wakelet auto-populates with an image and description, if available. Sort resources, add, delete, without having to create a new link each time.

Upload your own images for the cover image, background, and individual posts, or select from their free library. You can resize and reposition them, as well.

Missed a Twitter chat? Curate the tweets by searching the hashtag (or keyword or user). If you use Google and Microsoft tools, check out the #HybridEdu chat archive.

Four view options: Media, Compact, Grid and the newest: Mood Board. Media shows the full description and image. Compact is more like a list. Grid and Mood Board look similar to Pinterest.

 

Do you have OpenTab-itis? The habit of leaving dozens of tabs open? A favorite feature is the ability to create a collection using any (or all) tabs that you have open once you install the Wakelet extension.

Wakelet collection: Day Brighteners! For those days when I need affirmation with tweets from @BeckyKeene and @MtholfsenNEW IDEA! Ever have one of those days when you need affirmations? Back in April, @Mtholfsen sent out a tweet that made K’s MONTH! Create a private (or public) collection for messages like that in Wakelet. Text, tweets, etc. Next time you get a tweet that makes your day, send it to Wakelet! Another option: if you have a student out ill, create a collaborative Wakelet for students to post get well messages.

Check out Wakelet’s YouTube channel or their Twitter account. If you are an educator, they have a guide just for you!

Currently, K’s district is a hybrid district meaning students and staff have access to Microsoft AND Google tools.  Sharing through Wakelet gives you agnostic curation!

Welcome to Wakelet, Continue with Google, Continue with Facebook, Continue with Office 365 or E-mail address Password, By checking this box you agree to Wakelet's Terms, Privacy and Rules. Sign Up
Browser login
Log in Log in with email or Log in with Facebook, Log in with Google, Don't have an account? Sign up
App login screen

You can sign into Wakelet with Google, Office 365, Facebook accounts or an email address.

 

 

 

 

frozen wave against sunlight
Photo by Hernan Pauccara on Pexels.com

So what are you waiting for? Dive on in! The water’s GREAT! #WakeletWave

 

 

 

 

Start with the FREE course on the Microsoft Educator Center:

Then, check out K’s collections. Look for others to follow. Create a collection of your own. We even used it to archive our blogposts for easy searching.

Oh, and in case we didn’t mention it enough – Wakelet is FREE!

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

For the past 10+ years, I have been a technology trainer, a teacher out of the classroom. This means, when I was still in the classroom, the “social media” of the day was MySpace.

If parents (or even students) weren’t happy with something in our classroom, they could have posted publicly, but it wasn’t as common as today with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. To my knowledge, no one did. If they had a concern, they could talk to me or occasionally go to the principal. This meant any missteps (and teachers DO make mistakes!) were localized. My families taught me so much over the years. I am grateful for all I learned and try to share some of that learning with new teachers.

Recently, I saw a post from an “edu-celebrity” complaining about a classroom practice. I agreed completely with the error of the practice, but what I didn’t agree with was that the message mentioned that the practice was being used by edu-celebrity’s kid’s teacher. It does not mention the teacher, but this the second time I have seen a message from this person calling out their child’s teacher on social media (especially since I muted this person from my feed for months).

Globally, most won’t know the specific person being called out since there is no name in the message, but, locally, my guess is most at the school follow this teacher/parent and know which teacher is being mentioned.

Spiderman quote "With great power comes great responsibility." by Stan Lee in blue lettering on a spider web background

“With great power comes great responsibility.” (Yes, I’m quoting Spiderman, though, full disclosure, it may have come from an 18th century French quote before being written in a comic book by Stan Lee.)

No matter the origin of the quote, the premise is true. When you are an edu-celebrity on social media, or even if you have ANY followers, others may listen to your thoughts and share them.

If a parent was frustrated with me, it may be shared with other parents at the school, but probably wouldn’t go beyond that. When shared on social media, it has a reach that could number in the millions. Be responsible and share information that is accurate, use your platform for good, to create a positive influence and to demonstrate that the internet can be a supportive, encouraging place.

If we speak to our students about cyberbullying, we need to attempt to demonstrate that ourselves. I recognize that this post could be viewed as bullying the author of the post, but I am not going to reveal the person who started the thread nor the topic, in part because there are probably numerous examples by many edu-celebrities who, in a moment of frustration, have sent out a message that maybe, in retrospect, wasn’t a good choice.

As educators, we have enough struggles with poor funding, a lack of support at times, challenges in the classroom, behavior issues, curriculum, materials, etc. without adding to the struggle by tearing each other down.

Call out a concept, call out a company, but please try to avoid calling out an individual on social media.

“A” Way or “The” Way to Teach Reading?

UPDATE: January 22, 2020, EdWeek published: Preservice Teachers Are Getting Mixed Messages on How to Teach Reading

I’m going to put my teacher hat on for a moment and ask you to read an article before continuing to help put this blogpost in context. It’s not exactly short, but is worth the time. I’ve included a few quotes that struck me.

I saw a tweet from Rachelle Dene Poth @Rdene915 that caught my attention:

On October 3, 2019, How Do Kids Learn to Read appeared in my inbox stating a similar view in support of phonics.

A huge smile of validation came across my face. As I start my 26th year teaching in public school and taught in private school before that, I have seen many methods and styles come and go.

Years ago, I sat in a required “teaching reading” course for my clear credential in California and the professor was promoting “whole language” as THE way to teach reading. Being a new teacher, I listened carefully, ready to learn to be a better teacher for my students, but it didn’t seem right. This method was opposite from the phonics I was using successfully and had used successfully in my private school days, too. When asking the professor about phonics, I was quickly shutdown that I was “wrong”, that phonics was “wrong” and that I shouldn’t do that to children. Her way was THE way.

But some children will skip the sounding out if they’re taught they have other options. Phonics is challenging for many kids. The cueing strategies seem quicker and easier at first. And by using context and memorizing a bunch of words, many children can look like good readers — until they get to about third grade, when their books begin to have more words, longer words, and fewer pictures.

That night, I walked away from class feeling defeated and confused. I did not understand how teaching students to guess the words or how simply exposing them to literature would help them learn to read. Don’t get me wrong, there are times a reader may need to look at the context for comprehension (see the lesson in Richard Lavoie’s F.A.T. City that proves readers don’t need to know the words to comprehend and knowing the vocabulary doesn’t equal comprehension.)

The skilled readers could instantly recognize words without relying on context. Other researchers have confirmed these findings with similar experiments. It turns out that the ability to read words in isolation quickly and accurately is the hallmark of being a skilled reader. This is now one of the most consistent and well-replicated findings in all of reading research.

So here is my point… If you are a new teacher and something doesn’t seem right, IT MIGHT NOT BE RIGHT! or might not be right for YOUR STUDENTS. It took a tweet 25 years after the fact to make me feel scientifically validated that I wasn’t wrong in asking my professor about phonics. Does teaching phonics mean you can’t expose your students to literature? Absolutely not! Use your observations to know what works, the data, the results, not the edu-celebrity or the college professor telling you how to teach.

New and inexperienced doesn’t equal wrong any more than older and experienced equals right!

In the article I suggested you read at the opening of this post, the author went to speak with Ken Goodman, an education professor, who proposed the three cueing system in 1967:

  • graphic cues (what do the letters tell you about what the word might be?)
  • syntactic cues (what kind of word could it be, for example, a noun or a verb?)
  • semantic cues (what word would make sense here, based on the context?)

Goodman rejected the idea that you can make a distinction between skilled readers and unskilled readers; he doesn’t like the value judgment that implies. He said dyslexia does not exist — despite lots of evidence that it does.52 And he said the three-cueing theory is based on years of observational research. In his view, three cueing is perfectly valid, drawn from a different kind of evidence than what scientists collect in their labs.

As a former special education teacher, to read that someone doesn’t believe that dyslexia exists? That’s a whole other blogpost. 😁

Rant over, but if you are a newer teacher, listen to those around you, take it all in, but don’t forget that you know your students better than some random person. Know that you may make mistakes, but if you put the students and their learning first, you’ll be okay. Have I made mistakes? Absolutely! But I learned from them and moved forward.

For more on the topic, check out Ending the Reading Wars: Reading Acquisition From Novice to Expert.

I’ll close with 2 of my favorite quotes for education:

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” -Maya Angelou

“People before curriculum.” -Luis Oliveira during Microsoft’s Hack the Classroom 2019  Twitter: @loliveira55