We Need Librarians More Than Ever Before

It was about five years ago when a boy walked up to me and asked, “Hey Mr. Spencer, can you talk to the district and see if they’ll open up the library over the summer?” “I don’t think they can,” I answered. “But the city library is just down the street.” “I can’t go there. […]

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Fake News is a Real Problem. Here’s How Students Can Solve It.

If you like this sketchy video, I encourage you to subscribe to my channel and be the first to see my latest short videos. I used to teach a class called photojournalism. I usually referred to it as “digital journalism,” because people assumed we were a photography class. Students created videos, podcasts, documentaries, and blogs […]

Eleven Ways to Improve Online Classes

I sit in front of the computer, staring at the screen. I have a general syllabus with little more than standards and goals. The university is giving me a crazy amount of freedom to design this online course. I shake my head, unsure of what I will create. Initially, I think about my own experiences […]

What is content curation? Why does it matter to teachers?

The term “curate” has become a buzzword in education. I’ve seen it referenced in TEDx Talks and tossed around in Twitter chats. A few years ago, the term “curation” would have conjured up images of art galleries but now I associate it with conversations about the future of education. And yet . . . I’m […]

Eight Stages in the Teacher Technology Journey

This framework is something that I’ve shared with district technology directors and coaches. If you’re curious about having me meet with your team, please fill out the contact form at the bottom of this post. So AJ Juliani and I have started a new Classroom Questions series on rethinking professional development. We have a ton […]

Eight Ways to Keep Informational Texts Engaging

One of the biggest complaints I hear about Common Core is the push toward informational texts. This is often accompanied by the complaint that we are no longer allowing students to read for the sake of reading. Just yesterday, a teacher said to me, “I wish we could read novels. With all these informational texts, […]

Eight Lessons Learned in Doing Scratch Video Game Projects

Sometimes I write a blog post as a reminder to myself as I plan a project in the future. This is one of those times.  My students are currently working on a Scratch video game project. Walk into my second, fourth and sixth hours and you’ll see a general buzz that goes from slightly noisy […]

Off-Road Reading

  When I was a kid, I loved to read. I would spend hours with a novel or with a magazine. Often, the newspaper would be sprawled out on our dinner table in the morning and we would snag a section that we found interesting. It wasn’t a matter of fiction or non-fiction. It didn’t […]

Media Criticism Questions

I use the following set of questions sporadically through our lessons as a way of thinking critically about technology and our world. Multimedia You now have instant access to video, audio and photography. What does that mean in terms of telling your story? What does it mean to be a citizen journalist? How do people […]

What We Miss in One-to-One Initiatives

I’ve noticed a trend that when districts choose a one-to-one initiative. They tend to look at the features of the devices and compare this to what students will be learning. What can this device do? What apps are available? How does this compare to the cost? However, I rarely conversations about what it’s actually like […]