This is the sixth article in a series focused on creating a dialogue among K-12 and post-secondary pedagogies and pedagogues. Click here to read the original CFP.

Every educator, from kindergarten to graduate school, should contribute to the important and significant work of teaching students to use online sources and social networks for educational and professional goals. To ignore the technology, or assume that our students already know it because they use it every day, is to participate in educational malpractice.


I teach Freshman Composition and Freshman Literature at an urban open-entry state institution. My students’ primary use of the internet is on smartphones and tablets. Few of them have internet at home, and most of them cannot afford a computer.

In order to assist my students in transitioning their use of the internet from primarily social and entertainment use to academic use, I have made it a priority in my classes for at least five years now. Most students are relieved when I inform them that they’re not only allowed to use their devices in my classroom, but they are encouraged to use them. (This requires a clear policy for use included in the syllabus.)

I have found that the best way to lasso the educational potential of the internet is to teach my students how to use it in practical ways on a daily basis. I like to start the semester with a short lecture about study tools they can use in all their classes (QuizletStudyblueEvernoteGoogle Docs), and then slowly build up their knowledge by adapting a THATCamp activity called a “Dork Short” (a 2-minute mini-lecture) about a single specific tool that I or one of my extra-credit seeking students offer at the start of class each day. Not only does this activity increase their knowledge about what is out there, but it also builds a need in my students to learn about digital curation. They want to know how to store this information because it’s valuable to them. I have found that building a hunger in my students for a specific digital skill increases their attention span, retention, and use of the internet for educational purposes (i.e. “Do you want to keep that great website you just heard about? Great! Here’s a free tool called Evernote. You want to start to build a digital library of sources so you can use them in your papers? Wonderful! Let’s learn about Zotero!”)

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This is the fifth article in a series focused on creating a dialogue among K-12 and post-secondary pedagogies and pedagogues. Click here to read the original CFP.

Last year, I experienced two months that were very challenging for me as a person and as an academic. One of my sons, who was seven, became very ill and missed a lot of school. When he returned, he was in a wheelchair, and he was very unsure of himself. He didn’t know if he had enough stamina to make it through the day, and he worried that his teachers and his fellow students would be upset with him. No matter how much I tried to convince him that it would be OK, he was too nervous to return, alone, to his classroom.

So, I told him I would shadow him in class for a few days to help make the transition smoother.

It’s been a long time since I was in the second grade, and as I sat through his day, I was very impressed with the level of preparation and organization the teachers exhibited. Some things were the same: the teachers were engaging and exciting, there was a lot of activity, and the kids were overwhelmingly nice, but there were also a few things that were completely new — like the use of technology.

Logo for the Promethean board

The Promethean board was the most obvious piece of technology in the room, followed closely by a few Apple computers and an iPad. However, when it came to using this technology, I was somewhat concerned by what I saw.

It wasn’t that the teachers weren’t good. They were amazing, actually, but I was concerned that I didn’t see them using most of the technology they had at their fingertips to make what they had even better and more engaging.
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This is the fourth article in a series focused on creating a dialogue among K-12 and post-secondary pedagogies and pedagogues. Click here to find out more.

When people hear that I was once a high school English teacher and am now a college professor, they often ask, “how is college teaching different?” They expect I’ll say something about classroom discipline, or academic skills, or intellectual rigor, but I don’t. In fact, my answer is always the same: for me, teaching high school and teaching college are not that different. The pedagogical habits I developed as a secondary teacher have carried over into the university classroom and made me a better professor.

The parallels between university and secondary teaching are often obscured by an elitist hierarchy and downward blame for student skill deficits, both of which reinforce an institutional divide that can discourage dialogue about teaching and learning (on the “blame game,” see also “It’s Not the High School Teacher’s Fault”). Those who teach in higher education are already circumscribed by the perception — shared among the public and some of their peers — that teaching matters less in the university. Further, “teaching” at the college level is often narrowly defined to mean “the two traditional standbys: lecturing and leading discussions,” with an emphasis placed on content delivered via “information dump.” Meanwhile, in the discourse of higher ed reform and in many campus professional development workshops, technology is promoted as the most important pedagogical tool any college teacher can possess.

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This is the third article in a series focused on creating a dialogue among K-12 and post-secondary pedagogies and pedagogues. Click here to find out more.

When we think about K-12 and higher education, educators think of them as two separate entities. Within K-12, we divide it further; primary, junior, intermediate, and senior. These artificial silos create barriers to sharing professionally about the biggest questions in education: how do students learn and what is learning? How do we recognize learning when we see it? Through a series of multiple choice tests or through the creation of a product? Is our job still to stuff into our students’ heads as much content as possible, or is it to help students learn how to plan and then create? The education system at all levels is being radically changed by social media, and the artificial barriers we’ve constructed over time are shifting, perhaps eventually to disappear.
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This is the second article in a series focused on creating a dialogue among K-12 and post-secondary pedagogies and pedagogues. We will be accepting submissions for the related CFP throughout Summer 2013. Click here to find out more.

Just over a year ago, my “learning” exploded. I was developing a hybrid Canadian online delivery program for Chinese high school students. I was encouraged to push the boundaries of K-12 online and blended learning by investigating the most cutting edge online opportunities anywhere. After reviewing my options, I discovered MOOCs and realized they had the potential to push K-12 learning “out of the box.”
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This is the first article in a series focused on creating a dialogue among K-12 and post-secondary pedagogies and pedagogues. We will be accepting submissions for the related CFP throughout Summer 2013. Click here to find out more.

On my luckier days, I am gifted a few invisible moments at pick-up time before my son or one of his preschool classmates calls my name. It’s my time to see them as they are without me — a rare opportunity for a parent. Today is a lucky day, and I covertly watch a good friend’s daughter balancing in the low branches of a tree. She hesitates for a moment, one last look at the leaves above and the ground below. Her knees bent, lips set in a determined line. Then a slight bounce and she’s in the air, arms high, eyes wide, a miniature Amelia Earhart. But even Earhart struggled. The ground is there before she’s ready, her surprised feet don’t stick the landing and her knees and palms meet the woodchips roughly. There’s a short silence before her tears well in time with the pink scrapes on her knees.
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Don’t throw the past away.
You might need it some rainy day.
Dreams can come true again,
When everything old is new again.
—Peter Allen, “Everything Old Is New Again”

Click here to read the articles that responded to this CFP.

My oldest daughter started kindergarten this year. And when my partner and I found ourselves in the very difficult — and also very privileged — position of deciding where she would go to school, I realized I knew next-to-nothing about primary school pedagogy. The process of choosing a school and of learning about a new thread in the multi-stranded discourse of critical pedagogy provided me with a renewed perspective on my own pedagogical practice. I have a much better appreciation for how the learning spaces and experiences I create with students relate to, and have drawn upon, pedagogies first imagined by early innovators in education such as Maria Montessori, Rudolf Steiner, and Anthony Benizet. I’ve shared my thoughts on what I learned and the profound effect it has had on how I see myself as an educator in my recent article on Hybrid Pedagogy, “Building in the Humanities Isn’t New”. Now, we are asking those of you with expertise in primary and secondary school pedagogies to share your wisdom with us.
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Building in the Humanities Isn’t New

Building in the Humanities Isn’t New

“For children can accomplish the renewal of existence in a hundred unfailing ways.”
— Walter Benjamin, “Unpacking My Library

“Turn your data into a story, into a game, into art.”
— Mark Sample, “The Poetics of Non-Consumptive Reading

I initially encountered Walter Benjamin’s essay, “Unpacking My Library,” during my first semester of graduate school. Ten years later, as my oldest daughter started kindergarten, and I prepared to teach my first upper-division seminar on Chaucer, I found myself returning again and again to Benjamin’s discussion of children and collecting. Charting a course from theory to praxis as both a parent and a teacher over the past several months has, for me, demanded the decomposition of many received binaries: personal/professional, K-12/”higher” education, consumptive/productive reading, student/scholar, pedagogy/scholarship.
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