Two years ago I was on a date at a lovely Greek restaurant. My date and I saw a little girl with her family, the family was sitting around talking and eating and the girl was playing a game on a phone. We remarked how technology has changed how teachers connect with students. As tech has become more accessible teachers are expected to incorporate at least 2 technologies into every lesson. During school every lesson plan I wrote had to include technology. I argued this is short sighted. There are schools that do not have regular access to technology so shouldn’t we learn how to reach students when we have to go without. Like NASA astronaut training, learn to survive in the wilderness just in case. This idea was ignored or laughed at, several students said a school will always have some form of technology. Even if that were true, which it isn’t, tech breaks down and Wi-Fi stops working. I have seen it happen we all have and when it does teachers look like this.
We lose our minds because tech helps us manage our classrooms and to focus young minds with short attention spans.
So what does this all have to do with the title. Yesterday I attended an orientation for the WITS program, bringing books into schools. I love books but how do we help students learn to love books. The program requires students read independently 20 mins a day. Everyone in the room had the same expression and thought, how to get tech savvy kids to read silently for 20 mins. Well stamina building of course. Like training for a 5K we have to help build students attention spans in increments. In addition to the independent reading we need to include read alouds and small group work for a total of 60 mins. That’s a huge task. Not just with the stamina building but also many of my students never owned a book. As a child I had books, my mom had a huge shelving case filled with books, my friends had books and we would trade. I was reading Stephen King in Elementary school and my school had a library. We were taught how to check out books, select the best book for pleasure reading or research and we learned how to write book reports. Now I have students who sees books as something foreign or old fashion. They look at a book like I would look at a mummy in a museum, cool but weird.
In this tech age books are still necessary and something we should continue to encourage in children. This means parents need to get involved. Buy a new book for celebrations or just cause. Go to the library or a used bookstore. Yes you can download a book on a kindle but honestly nothing beats the smell and feel of a book.