McKenzie Speeches

Reading Between Digital Lines

As an increasing share of the texts young people read are now delivered electronically, to what extent has the challenge of comprehension shifted from the days when most words appeared in books, magazines, newspapers or notes passed in class? Jamie explores some of the unusual traits and aspects of electronic text, taking a balanced position that praises some features while warning of others. He lays out strategies to take advantage of the promises while avoiding the perils.


Reading Across a Dozen Literacies

At a time when some have tried to define "literacy" narrowly, Jamie proposes that we look at "reading" quite broadly, asking how we can further the comprehension skills of all our students whether they be reading a poem, someone's face or the story captured by a photograph
or painting. Given the rich offerings available through the online world, he argues this broader conception of reading allows schools to deliver on the historical notion of "reading across the curriculum."


One Liners, Bloggery, Second Lives and Tomfoolery

As Web 2.0 and various new technology fads sweep through the culture, schools and teachers must give them serious consideration, but Jamie argues for discernment in the face of bandwagons and trends that are sometimes a distraction from deep reading, powerful writing and quality work.  Drawing upon the work of Sven Birkerts in The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age, Jamie asks the audience to consider what it means to be "well read" in this decade.


Scoring High on the NAEP Reading Test: The Technology Nexus

In this session, Jamie demonstrates how new (and old) information technologies can be used to help students perform well on the tough comprehension items on the 8th grade NAEP Reading Test (National Assessment of Educational Progress).

What makes NAEP so tough?   

  • Items require inference, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
  • Students must generate open-ended responses instead of picking from a list of multiple choice items.
  • Success on NAEP depends upon thinking - the ability to make up your mind and figure things out.
  • Memorized patterns don't cut it.

Skills for this Century

Many groups have put forth documents outlining skills they see as especially important during this new century characterized by new technologies and many pressing social and ecological challenges. Jamie presents an overview of key documents such as the New Zealand Curriculum and curriculum statements from Australia, Canada and the United States to highlight the most promising and the most difficult of these new century skills. He also points out important skills and attitudes missed by these documents. Finally, he calls upon the audience to consider the professional development required to help all teachers address such goals successfully.

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