This is the model I follow when I talk to anyone about technology I try to break things down to their simplest parts as I would when I was planning lessons for when I taught in my third grade class years ago.
By thinking about things within the lens of explaining something to a 3rd grader, I force myself to focus on key concepts and ideas. This is not to imply that I talk down to people or dumb down the issues; rather I try to understand the point or lesson I intend to teach and get those points across clearly and with as little confusion or frustration as possible.
Simplicity is something that I think is sorely missing when from professional development in education.
Attend any conference — or take a look at any conference program — and you will see sessions offered on the Flipped Classroom, Close Reading, Backward Design or whatever the flavor of the month (or the hot book is on ASCD) happens to be.
Recently I attended the Educon 2.5 conference at the Science Leadership Academy and sat in on an excellent session on “Close Reading” with Christopher Lehman (@iChrisLehman – ChristopherLehman.com) & Kate Roberts (@TeachKate) from Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University. I had no idea what close reading looked like these days and was intrigued by the description:
“With 24-hour news cycles and the constant presence of screens, text rushes past us at an astonishing rate. We must slow down, read closely, and uncover subtle messages in texts. This conversation focuses on studying, collaboratively with students, close reading skills and their transfer into media, culture, and daily life.”
Reading this I thought I was going to hear a conversation that related to media literacies and how to parse information from all of the different sources coming at each of us — teachers and students alike — on a daily basis.
What I learned was how to “carefully and purposefully” read a text to take it apart and “annotate, look for patterns and ask questions” about those “patterns” by using the “lens of word choice and evidence”. [Using close reading strategies I pulled out these words:screens, rushes, subtle, media, culture, life – proof I was engaged and paying attention]
But wait… isn’t “Close Reading” really just talking about comprehension?!?!?
I asked that very question and the answer was yes (though nuanced to focus on a short piece of text).
So why not just say you are going to talk about new or improved comprehension strategies? Why call is something different, something that might confuse someone or make him/her think it is going to be something drastically different from something with which he.she has already spent time?