Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 6 - Create my own desert (not a typo)

A remarkable thing happened yesterday - I remembered the entire content of a homily. For those unaware, I'm a Roman Catholic and I go to church every Sunday. We had a guest homilist - Fr. Rosica, a Basilian who is often seen on Salt and Light Television .He was a great speaker and his homily was engaging, relevant, and well-structured. It was on the Biblical figure of John the Baptist and three traits we should seek to embrace that he possessed/represented: the desert, humility, and prophesy. (Trust me, this does have something to do with school libraries and teaching.)

When explaining how we should embrace the desert, Fr. Rosica described the "wired" conduct of our youth. Usually when speakers go on about how technology is ruining society and today's teens don't know how to relate to other people when they aren't in front of a screen, I get annoyed. It's very easy to blame our gadgets for many of society's ills. I think it speaks to the quality of Father's talk that I didn't then tune him out completely. I also had my own mini-response > that technology can actually bring us closer together, like with my students working on meeting the deadline for posting their Voki interactive avatars. They have until Mon. Dec. 6 (today) to post it and receive descriptive feedback on their work so that they can change or improve it. Being teens, many of them have chosen not to start it 6 weeks ago when the assignment was originally given, but try posting it on the weekend. The students and I have been in touch with each other as some of our "student tech experts" have made themselves available to help their classmates publish the code on the online work site. The assignment also let me learn a little more about the individuals in the three intermediate classrooms - even, Father would be pleased to hear, their religious leanings (and how often do you hear pre-teens talk about that?)

However, I did see Fr. Rosica's point about needing to "go to the desert" so you won't get distracted by all the busy-ness of the world and can focus on what's truly important. The intermediate division teachers and I made it a point to announce to the class that if they were experiencing difficulties and needed an extension that they would have to come to speak to their home room teacher IN PERSON to make the request. We don't want them to think a quickly composed email will suffice. We want them to talk to us. We also want that solitary, reflective time, where we aren't jumping like Pavlov's dogs to answer every "ding" of a new message that we must reply to immediately. Those same intermediate teachers are going to go visit a book wholesaler next week to shop leisurely and in person for books for their class libraries and guided reading mini-sets, instead of relying on online catalogs. I won't get to go with them, but I'll be with them in spirit.

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