Dr Julie Wood is the founder and academic director of TechnoTeaching, a global consulting agency for educators. She is also the coauthor, along with UK educator Nicole Ponsford, of TechnoTeaching: Taking Practice the Next Level in a Digital World (Harvard Education Press).
A former faculty member of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Dr. Wood consults with companies such as PBS Interactive, Disney, Scholastic, HarperCollins, and WestEd to help create outstanding transmedia products for children. She has also authored a series of children’s books, Learn to Read with Tug the Pup and Friends, illustrated by UK artist Sebastien Braun (HarperCollins).
Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a word nerd. I have always loved language - as a teacher and a writer. Vocabulary knowledge, I first noticed years ago as a young teacher, is the key to unlocking meaning for your students. It also gives educators insights into the world, as lifelong learners. How can we make learning interesting, colourful and complex words an exciting part of the fabric of classroom life? Or, how can we cultivate word geeks in our classrooms? And how can digital tools help?
What does it mean to be literate in the 21st century? I think about this question a lot. Being fully literate in today’s world is about so much more than being able to simply use new tools. It’s being part of what edtech expert Henry Jenkins (University of Southern California) calls “a participatory culture” (think of YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook for example—and how all these venues encourage us to participate).
If you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you’re at least a bit techy. You might be a newbie in your first or second year of teaching: a newbie who wants to learn from other like-minded educators all over the world. Or maybe you’re a knowledgable teacher: you’re at the top of your game in many ways, but your New Year’s resolution is to take on new challenges—ones that will step up your teaching. Or perhaps you’re several years into your career: you’re an excellent teacher who is committed to lifelong learning.
Children love to read, right? Because we love to read! We grew up vicariously tumbling down the rabbit hole with Alice or exploring the Chocolate Factory with Charlie. Or sampling saltier fare with Roald Dahl and his humorous worldview.