It’s been a wild, wild year for me. Earlier this week I was honored as one of NSBA’s 20 To Watch and in June I was one of the cable industry’s Leaders in Learning recipients. The George Lucas Educational Foundation said it loves my blogs and today I am being honored as one of Phi Delta Kappa’s Emerging Leaders. I am a little overwhelmed at all of the attention (three national awards in one year is a bit crazy!) but I do appreciate the recognition of the work we’re doing here at CASTLE. My new institution, Iowa State University, had a really nice story on me (the news service reporter said I was a walking op-ed!). It’s fun to be at a place that appreciates my work.
I can’t attend the awards ceremony today at PDK’s Global Summit in Vancouver, British Columbia. Why? Because I’m winging my way to San Antonio, Texas to keynote Miguel Guhlin’s technology leadership seminar. It will be great to see Miguel again and, knowing Miguel, I’m guessing that he may have a few surprises in store for me!
Congratulations on your achievements and recognitions!
Now if Margaret Spellings resigns and your phone rings – take the offer!!!
I am new to your blog and unfamiliar with your past messages to the community; but the headline caught my attention because I feel I am a lone voice struggling to give our leaders a “wake up” call. In brief, in our school district there is a lack of appreciation of the value of multisensory brain input supported by the simplest of technology: text on CD’s.
This may sound pretty unsexy when I’m sure you are perhaps thinking on grander terms about how students must learn to work in the technology business economy. However, to me, a school board member and parent of a dyslexic child, schools are failing WAY too many children because we are not teaching them to READ!!
Listening to a book, while also reading it visually, uses two brain pathways and enhances learning. As a parent, I’ve had to self educate, reading the research of Dr. Sally Shaywitz, to fully appreciate this reality. I EXPECT education leaders to know more about how the brain learns than I do. Sadly, they do not; or at least they do not act upon it. I’ve been in a single district for 14 years. No teacher has ever encouraged use of books on CD. There are NONE in our middle school “media” center (900 students). When I asked the classroom teacher, the dept chair, the special ed director, and my son’s special ed teacher of record, not one could tell me whether his current social studies book was available on CD. This is despite the fact that this text had been in use for several years! They also didn’t know how to get the CD’s; although there is a district-wide coordinator for books on CD. (A secondary item, since she is a full time speech teacher.)
Two years ago I wrote a lengthy “parent’s perspective” noting the invisibility of the CD option and urging that teachers be taught to access this technology AND promote it to students who would benefit. The standing contract for our district remains unchanged: 50 CD’s for the school year, 10,000 students. Our son alone required seven of the fifty books for his classes. No recreational reading on CD is encouraged. (remember the media center)
I cannot fathom the blindsightedness (no pun intended) to the value of this technology, but I’ve concluded that it starts with a belief that only those who are visually impaired/or blind need books on CD.
I am emailing you because you are clearly in a high profile position to raise awareness of this failure of leadership in so many districts; AND because your work is admired by the community perhaps people will take note.
I ask that you not forget this sad situation in a district that (attempts to) serve 10,000+ students, at least a quarter of whom do not pass the language arts standardized tests.
The cost for our subscription is only $500.00. If we expanded the program X5, and promoted its use, we’d still be spending little more on it than the cost of one good computer with printer and software.
Kids can use these books anywhere, they are comfortable with the technology, AND the new CD’s and players are vastly better than the old “books on tape” because they are precisely “navigable” to the page. Talk about missing the technology boat! If school leaders and staff can’t comprehend this, how will they ever cope with more complicated software?
I ask only that you hear my deep concern and consider giving this issue some visibility. If you have already been doing so; it would make my day to be told!
More below, if you have time…
Nancy D. Poore
PS Watch out for lame excuses when you bring this up. Things like: “No one asked for it”! Parents should not be more aware than school leaders. They may reason that Johnny MUST learn to read visually alone. Shaywitz research on brain learning debunks that myth. Also, Please don’t be misled by districts who may smugly assert that the emerging availability of textbooks online eliminates the need for textbooks on CD! The online versions usually DO NOT come with auditory or navigable features. Kids are STILL reading visually; on a computer. Even if the text online comes with audio, poor kids who lack home computers or internet service can be equipped easily with the navigable CD players at a total cost of $250.00.
But the real cost savings comes when we begin to be more successful at educating the next generation of readers. PRICELESS.