Sharing What Moves You

By Dr. L. Robert Furman, principal of South Park Elementary Center, South Park, Penn.

Some people think technology isolates. Not me. I believe technology unites. One way it unites is by creating worldwide communities through which we can explore and share interests. Another way it unites is through streamlined communication within our much smaller worlds. Communication binds communities.

Rob’s Quick Tech Tips

• James Patterson’s
turns reluctant readers into voracious readers
• Think of Pinterest as a virtual bulletin board where educators can share strategies, technology, tips for parents, and information on core disciplines.
Last month we talked about what happens when students share favorite titles: Other students read them. The same is true of adults and their interests. People share what they like, and other people find they like it too. But let’s take all of that to the next level this month. Strap yourself in because this is good stuff.

    • Literacy Tech Tool: – Let's talk about the two R's – reluctant readers. My literary hero, author James Patterson, had one of those in his own son. Pretty ironic, huh? But instead of whining and begging and cajoling to get his son to read, Mr. Patterson started writing children's books and created a really amazing website where kids like his son Jack would find great books that they would love to read. Right there on the homepage, you can click on tabs that take you to books in your preferred category: illustrated books, transitional books, page-turners, and advanced reads. And that's where the whole world opens up. You'll come to a page of books by age group. Find one that sounds interesting, and click on it. You'll get a parent review and an educator review. You can even click on a link in a menu on the right-hand side of the page to buy or reserve the book at a store or library near you. And then there are all the lesson plans and activities. That’s right. I said lesson plans and activities – ready to serve, no reconstitution necessary. You can download about a zillion plans or activities for any one of a seemingly endless stream of titles. Click on A Visitor for Bear, for example, and you get pages and pages of lessons and activity sheets. Oh, and did I mention links to videos, blogs, and forums? And did I mention you can even create your own page where you can curate your favorite reads? The site also hosts occasional contests, such as a chance to win a set of Ivy and Bean books. The site, like the author, is coolness on steroids. Well done, Mr. Patterson.

  • Administrative Tech Tool: Pinterest – When you think of Pinterest, you may think of great craft ideas or clothing or recipes. But its usefulness goes way deeper than that. From a principal’s point of view, it’s similar to Twitter and LinkedIn in terms of what people are sharing and how they’re connecting. It also opens itself up to great content. I’ve collected several boards on such topics as instructional technology (the topic of my book), tips for parents, and the major disciplines, to name a few. In fact, I officially required my teachers to get a Pinterest account and link to my board so I can easily share things I find on the net. We started with my finding one pin for each teacher. Then I gave my teachers three hours to set up their accounts, friend one another, and make their boards. We’ve created this network through which if one teacher finds something really cool, it shows up on everyone’s pages. It’s a great way for us to share ideas from the outside world. And that makes our little world a better place.

Dr. Furman is a guest blogger for The Huffington Post. Email tips or questions to him at, or text him directly at 412-999-0449. Follow him on Twitter @DrFurman.
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