Professional Book Review: Amplify!Posted: January 28, 2016
Listen, we are humble ladies here at Chartchums. We like paper; we like markers. One of us still writes her pieces longhand, and the other considers her iPad to be a slightly glorified candy crush machine. We are not on the cutting edge of tech, which is why Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke’s new book, Amplify!, shocked us to our core with one big idea: you don’t have to be super techie to use tech in big, powerful amazing ways with kids.
Too often technology in education becomes about the tool or the app. One gets a sense that if you don’t have 1-1 iPads for your classroom, you probably should just burn it to the ground. Amplify! pushes back against that idea saying: “We focus on the overall goal of teaching kids how to think and then later in purposeful tools along the way.” This idea, that technology is a purposeful layer added to kids thinking, immediately separates Amplify! from other writings we have read about using technology. It is not about iPads as the new worksheets, or word processing as the new writing workshop — it is about deepening and enriching thinking through the use of everyday technology.
Only have one computer? The authors talk about what you can make possible no matter what your technology provisions.
Not sure where to start? The authors link teaching about using technology to the workshop approach you likely use in reading and writing. The emphasis is on using the technology as a support and enhancement to reading and writing, not as a replacement of the book or the pen.
Worried about screen time and an eerie glow permeating your classroom? The authors teach us how technology can enhance and enrich collaboration and children’s play.
At its core, Amplify! is about good teaching. It is the next step for teachers who believe in child centered, developmentally appropriate, responsive instruction. It is grounded in best practice and powerful learning. You will learn how to use technology in ways that will revolutionize your classroom. One of Kristi’s favorite ideas comes out of one of the “Try It Tomorrow” sections — brilliant bite size ideas to take on called, “The Recording Booth.” Kristi did as the authors suggested and set up her computer and taught her kindergarteners how to record themselves. Once children met a goal, they would record themselves teaching their goal to an audience and over time built a virtual help desk for each other. Need help stretching a word? There was a video for that. Need some writing ideas? There was a video for that. Katie and Kristin taught us how to make living breathing charts available to children!
Throughout the book Kristin and Katie demonstrate beautiful teaching, provide possible mentor charts to use with technology, give realistic advice and helpful resources, and most importantly, replace the idea that technology is about something new, and make you realize it is about something better. As they say, “It’s not the tools — it’s about what we do with them that counts.”
We highly recommend Amplify! for both the novice techie and the high flying IT nerd for both its engaging writing, innovative ideas, and inspiring message.
Amplify! is available here: http://www.heinemann.com/products/E07473.aspx
Happy (digital) charting!
Kristi and Marjorie