Bookmarked Seven things teachers agree on about teaching reading in Australia. Stop all the political haranguing over phonics (EduResearch Matters)
I am continually asked: why are we are once again adopting UK policies and accepting as ‘evidence’ the Rose Report from the UK? This report recommended that synthetic phonics be the preferred method for teaching early reading in the UK, but the ‘evidence’ quoted in the report has been widely disputed, including in the UK, by highly respected literacy education experts. The way the report has since been used politically is of ongoing concern. This was the impetus for the Sydney School of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney to hold a symposium on The role of phonics in learning to be literate last week in Sydney in conjunction with The Australian Literacy Educators Association.
Robyn Ewing reflects on a recent symposium looking at Phonics. She shares a series of agreements from the event:

  • Learning to be literate is crucial for children’s life chances.

  • Socioeconomic status has a big impact on how well children read

  • Learning to be literate is a highly complex contextualised social practice – not a series of hierarchical skills

  • Learning to read is about making meaning. There are no easy, one size fits all recipes.

  • Rich literature, real texts should play an important role in any literacy program

  • Phonics and other code-based literacy practices are widespread in early years learning contexts in Australia. Where is the evidence that teachers aren’t using these strategies?

  • Another test is highly problematic and will disadvantage our EALD (English as an additional language or dialect) learners as well as many in vulnerable situations

Bookmarked “Tell me about yourself” in a critical auto-ethnography (W. Ian O'Byrne)
In my language and literacy courses, I have students critically reflect on their identity, and the pathways that brought them to this point in their lives. They research and write an “auto-ethnography” which becomes an analytic, multimodal portrait of one or some of their literacy learning experiences, placed within social, historical, cultural context. It should go beyond summary and autobiography to incorporate ethnographic analysis of the cultural contexts and practices, relationships, dynamics of power, etc.
Ian O’Byrne documents the structure that he uses in getting his students to write auto-ethnographies. Along with Curt Rees model and Naomi Barnes’ post, they offer a useful place to start when considering the topic.
Read Write Microcast #009

Read Write Microcast #009

Sometimes it pays off to think small. Think next door, down the hall, at the next meeting. Act large in small spaces. Notice who’s speaking and who isn’t. Practice not knowing and being curious. Be kind. Welcome warmly and mean it.

Sherri Spelic


This microcast is my response to the pop-up MOOC, Engagement in a Time of Polarization, currently running. I have been following proceedings, but have struggled to contribute. After trying to write a more comprehensive reflection, but not knowing where to start, I decided to ‘think small’ and just share a short microcast. For so long I thought ‘engagement’ involved measuring the number of tweets etc, but I have come to respect lurking more and more as a legitimate (in)action.

Bookmarked The Digital Poorhouse (Harper's magazine)
Think of the digital poorhouse as an invisible web woven of fiber-optic threads. Each strand functions as a microphone, a camera, a fingerprint scanner, a GPS tracker, a trip wire, and a crystal ball. Some of the strands are sticky. Along the threads travel petabytes of data. Our activities vibrate the web, disclosing our location and direction. Each of these filaments can be switched on or off. They reach back into history and forward into the future. They connect us in networks of association to those we know and love. As you go down the socioeconomic scale, the strands are woven more densely and more of them are switched on.
Virginia Eubanks compares the restrictive nature of the poorhouses of the nineteenth century with the digital spaces of today:

The differences between the brick-and-mortar poorhouse of yesterday and the digital one of today are significant. Containment in a physical institution had the unintended result of creating class solidarity across the lines of race, gender, and national origin. If we sit at a common table to eat the same gruel, we might see similarities in our experiences. But now surveillance and digital social sorting are driving us apart, targeting smaller and smaller microgroups for different kinds of aggression and control. In an invisible poorhouse, we become ever more cut off from the people around us, even if they share our suffering.

The digital poorhouse has a much lower barrier to expansion. Automated decision-making systems, matching algorithms, and predictive risk models have the potential to spread quickly.

In conclusion, Eubanks suggests that we need to work together to build a solution:

If there is to be an alternative, we must build it purposefully, brick by brick and byte by byte.

This reminds me of the point Brent Simmons made in regards to Micro.blogs:

We’re discovering the future as we build it.

Listened How white is the tech sector? - Chips with Everything podcast by an author from the Guardian
Has the technology industry truly embraced diversity? What more needs to be done to make it a more inclusive industry? Inspired by Black History Month, Jordan Erica Webber and Chella Ramanan try and answer these questions.
In this episode of Chips with Everything, Webber and Ramanan talk to Carlton Cummins of Aceleron, junior software engineer Bukola Thompson, and Tom Ilube, founder of the African Science Academy. Many touch on the need for diversity, particularly when personal biases are often baked in, a point David Williams makes on the Team Human podcast.
Bookmarked Why we need to understand misinformation through visuals (First Draft News)
Following the London Westminster terrorist attack in March of this year, an image representing the strength and solidarity of Londoners emerged on Twitter. It’s not uncommon for workers on the London Underground to write messages of national unity on tube signs following tragic events, and the March terrorist attack seemed no different. The image proceeded …
Hannah Guy discusses the impact of images on misinformation. This is not just about fake photographs, but graphics too. She provides a particular focus on memes, something danah boyd also covered.
Bookmarked Why Less News on Facebook Is Good News for Everyone (Slate Magazine)
To what extent Facebook’s disruption of the media facilitated the political upheaval and polarization we’ve seen over the past several years is a question that researchers will be debating and investigating for some time. But it seems clear they’re related. And it was Facebook’s takeover of the news that gave Russian agents the tools to influence elections and civil discourse in democracies around the world.
Will Oremus discusses Facebook’s flip to prioritise the personal over corporation. This will have a significant impact on the way that news is portrayed on the site. It comes on the back of a series of changes in which Facebook has broken the back of digital news coverage:

First, by encouraging people to get news from all different sources in the same place, Facebook leveled the playing field among publishers.

Second, whereas human editors used to be trained to select and emphasize stories based on their news value, Facebook’s news feed algorithm optimized for clicks, views, likes, and shares.

This move isn’t to repair the damage done to democracy, but rather to limit the damage done to its users.

Liked Why are the Liberals so terrified of our schools? (The Age)
We have had nearly 10 years of Labor's MySchool website, which encourages parents to play the school system like the stock market. Low scores are punished with low enrolments, as privileged families flock to high-performing schools, and the least socially mobile remain at schools with the least resources to support them. As a result, when public schools in Victoria have received meagre funding increases, these are too often wasted on programs that principals think will boost scores and reputation – even if they undermine real learning. Despite plenty of evidence that streaming actually reduces student achievement, select-entry programs are breaking out like algae plagues around the state. As are uniform policies that mimic private schools in pettiness and pricing.
Bookmarked that doesn't mean dumbing it down (TinyLetter)
My advice to the group of academics, then, was two-fold. First: recognize that both sides need to be more flexible. Understand that journalists have to have somewhat reductive headlines, and that they operate on deadlines. But also assert, at the beginning, that you are unwilling to provide a soundbite — and want, above all else, to insert nuance, instead of a flat argument, and if they can't deal with that (even if it's just three sentences of complication, instead of one declarative sentence) then you will not do the interview. It's not that academics should request quote approval, it's more that they should be able to reach an agreement with the journalist about the sort of argument to which they're affixing their good name.
Anne Helen Petersen explains how to work with and in journalism to extend the reach of academic ideas.
Bookmarked Academic Outrage: When The Culture Wars Go Digital by Tressie McMillan Cottom (tressiemc)
This isn’t an issue for individual professors. This is an organized effort. Sociologists may know a little something about those. Learn how to organize, then organize.
Tressie McMillan Cottom discusses the challenges of being critical in online spaces. She says to learn how to organise and then organise. Some take-aways include:

  • Beware the hand-wavers and the hand-wringers
  • On the flip side, don’t be a hand-waver and hand-wringer
  • If you or a colleague is under attack, help your institution to help you
  • Take care of your family
  • Master platforms
  • Get long-term

I wonder what this means for K-12 educators and the call for connected educators?