Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Give me a D! Give me an I! Give me a G! Give me a hand, PLEASE! I can't retrieve my files!

In September, 2000, I presented a workshop at Fort Wayne, Indiana’s Science Central – “Let Lowell Piggot Help You Think Like a Scientist!” – based on my meteorologically-themed picture book There Goes Lowell’s Party! (Holiday House).

I promise you: every single Science Teacher who ever taught me, who ever awarded me the “D” I’d – barely - earned, elementary school through college, was rolling over in his or her grave.

(That did not include Ms. Lowenstein, my college Biology lab instructor, who listened to me highlight my fetal pig’s fallopian tubes during my final exam, then announced I’d failed because my fetal pig was male.)

That’s how I feel now writing about The Digital Age and how it impacts my teaching and authoring.

If not a card-carrying Luddite, I am definitely a sympathizer. 

Ned Ludd, of course, was the imagined leader of the English textile workers whose protests and machine breaking shook England in the early 19th century and who lent his name to opponents of technology.

As noted in Monday's post, Jean Marie’s Dad insisted she learn the Word Processor manual; mine insisted I learn how to type on a portable Royal typewriter. (“Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party.”)

When it comes to any kind of technological change, be it early 19th century textile machinery, my Kindle or my digital camera, I enter the room kicking and screaming.

But do notice: I used the active voice!

For better (mostly), I have indeed entered this Brave New World of ours, one digit at a time, so to speak - first delicately dipping my Big Toe to test the waters, then gingerly tapping my right index finger in search of whatever the machine’s correct key.

And, I’m happy to say (on most days anyway): I’m here.

My learning disabilities erase any chance I have of ever becoming a technological Quick Study.

But in a funny sort of way, my learning disabilities enable me to promptly identify those who are (!), then grab their coattails before they fly away.

Had I bought Apple stock when it was first issued, I couldn’t be any richer, thanks to my two Computer Tutors – first Kathy Rudy of Evanston, now Chris Vasilakis of Forest Park. (They’d be on my Speed Dial if I knew how to set it.)

I live mid-way between an Apple store and a Best Buy; turn left, and the Apple associates reconfigure my iPod nano; turn right, and the Geek Squad unfreezes my laptop.

The teacher inside me reminds me often: there is no such thing as a dumb question.

Two weeks ago, Brigid Zachar (left), Illinois School District 59’s Instructional Technology Support, and Eileen Justus (right), the LRC Director of Elk Grove Village’s Ridge Family Center for Learning,
answered every single dumb question I asked while working with faculty and classes First through Fifth to help them write their abecedarian telling of their singular school’s story, R is for the Ridge Way.
(Singular is an understatement. Ridge is an all-year, 8 am to 4 pm, combined-classroom community that models non-stop respect and responsibility.)

The school’s founder and retiring Principal supported this writing project from the get-go, working with me months ahead to nail the details. We used my S is for Story: A Writer’s Alphabet as our model. The faculty and students enthusiastically embraced the effort. The Best News of all? The Principal’s name (Mrs. Barbara Zabroske) gave the students the perfect Z word!

You name the technological wonder and Brigid and Eileen taught me how to use it, so we could save our daily work over two weeks’ worth of multiple sessions, be it brainstorming, list-making, highlighting, revisiting, revising, re-evaluating or poetically shaping our text.
The Eno Board, with its RM EAsiTeach software.
The Aver Media document camera.
The fancy stylus.
The scrolls.
The focused lens.
How did a blackboard ever suffice?

give me a D!
Give me an I!
Give me a G!
Hey! Give me a hand!
I’m still kicking and screaming,
but I’m here
I'm staying.

Esther Hershenhorn

Don’t forget our contest and your chance to win a copy of Barb Rosenstock’s newest picture book, The Camping Trip That Changed America (Dial), illustrated by Caldecott medalist Mordecai Gerstein. The entry deadline is Saturday.


Carmela Martino said...

Three cheers for you, Esther! Look at what you're doing online these days. Not only is your post's contest wonderful, but it's beautiful to look at too. :-)
And the fetal pig story made me laugh out loud!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Esther, your admission of powerlessness in the face of technology enables you to ask for help. It takes a village for me, too!

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Thanks, Marti and April, for your support.
I was clearly hanging out my technological vulnerabilities and short-comings for all to see.
Here's an encouraging comment from Brigid Zachar who helped me work the Smart Board during my Ridge Family Center for Education school visit:

"Enthusiasm always makes a difference in facing the Challenges of technology. Hang on to that and In no time at all the techie in you will Emerge :)"

Chris Vasilakis said...

Esther, your determination to fit your square "Luddite" peg into the round hole of technology makes me believe that you're not as much of a Luddite as you proclaim....or at least, perhaps, braver than most.