As regular Radical Readers know, we’re currently preparing to hold a conversation with author Kelly Gallagher (see here and here) about his new book Readicide: How Schools are Killing Reading, which offers a provocative critique of the reading instruction that has become commonplace in the American classroom.
I’m excited to announce that Kelly has agreed to join us for a four-day focused discussion using Voicethread—one of my favorite digital tools that allows participants to hold asynchronous conversations with one another. What that means is that you’ll have a window of time to jump into this important conversation—instead of being limited to just one day (which may or may not fit into your personal schedule).
If you’ve never joined in a Voicethread conversation before, you’re in for a special treat. Voicethread is one of the easiest—and most engaging—digital forums for discussions available to educators today. It’s a tool that my students have embraced completely (check out this conversation that they had about Darfur that has had nearly 15,000 page views) and that I’ve used with teachers for conversations on Web 2.0, Grading, and Professional Learning Communities.
Our conversation with Kelly will start on January 18th and run until January 22nd. During that time, Kelly will be stopping by our Voicethread a few times a day to lend his advice and to answer your questions about reading instruction—-but the real value in our conversation comes from the collective wisdom of all of our participants! My hope is that we’ll all wrestle with challenging topics together for four days—-answering and asking questions, pushing back against controversial ideas, letting our own preconcieved notions be challenged.
It should be a great example of what collaborative dialogue between accomplished teachers can look like—and it should elicit ideas that we can all use to drive change in our own schools and communities.
To be best prepared to use Voicethread during our conversation with Kelly, consider:
- Creating a free educator account by visiting http://voicethread.com
- Viewing this Voicethread tutorial, which will show you how to add comments to a conversation.
- Viewing this Voicethread tutorial, which will introduce you to the idea of Voicethread identities.
You can also practice by adding a comment to one of the following professional development Voicethreads that I’ve created for my teachers:
You might also be interested in these “digital conversation suggestions” that I introduce to teachers and students whenever we tackle new tools:
While commenting, try to respond directly to other readers. Begin by quoting some part of the comment that you are responding to help other listeners know what it is that has caught your attention. Then, explain your own thinking in a few short sentences. Elaboration is important when you’re trying to make a point. Finally, finish your comment with a question that other listeners can reply to.
Questions help to keep digital conversations going!
When responding to another participant, don’t be afraid to disagree with something that they have said. Challenging the thinking of someone else will help them to reconsider their own thinking—and will force you to explain yours! Just be sure to disagree agreeably—impolite people are rarely influential.
If your thinking gets challenged by another participant in a conversation, don’t be offended. Listen to your peers, consider their positions and decide whether or not you agree with them. You might discover that they’ve got good ideas you hadn’t thought about. Either way, be sure to respond—let your challengers know how their ideas have influenced you.
Finally, know that you can always leave questions for me in the comment section of this entry. I’m really excited about our upcoming conversation and want to make sure that everyone feels comfortable with the tool that we’ll be using to interact with one another.
Rock right on,