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How to Start a Class Blog

by Hope Morley

class blog

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A class blog is a great way to connect with parents, inspire your students, and meet the Common Core standards. The CCSS Writing standards require students to produce and publish writing on the Internet, as well as adjust writing for different audiences and purposes.

According to a study done last year by the Pew Research Internet Project, 96% of teachers agree that digital technologies benefit students by helping them share writing with wider audiences. Students are writing and reading a lot online, but that language often isn’t appropriate for the classroom. Increasingly, students are using the same general voice whether they’re texting their peers or writing a formal report. Many students are unable to distinguish when to adjust voice and tone for audience; others simply don’t know how. As students prepare for college and the workplace, however, attention to audience may mean the difference between getting a job and offending a boss.

How do you go about preparing your students for college and career while hitting those technology standards? With a class blog of course!

Getting Started 

First and foremost, get permission from your administration and parents before publishing any student work online. Set ground rules, such as no last names for younger students.

Choose a Platform

There are plenty of options out there, but here are a few good options for teachers and students.

  • Blogger: Google’s free blogging platform is user-friendly and easy to set up if you already have a Google account. This platform is best for one class blog. While it is fairly intuitive, save this platform for middle or high school students.
  • Weebly: Weebly is ideal for teachers who want each student to have their own blogs. The teacher creates an umbrella site for the whole class, and then creates individual blogs for each student. Weebly’s drag and drop design is intuitive and easy even for younger students. Weebly has the option to password protect your class blog, which is a great privacy feature.
  • Edublogs: Edublogs are made for teachers and provide plenty of protections for students, though most of the best features require a paid account. Paying teachers can easily monitor comments and blogs from a master account. Edublogs is powered by WordPress, which can be a difficult platform to master.
  • Pen: Do you want students to post their work online only once or twice during the year? Try Pen. This easy website allows anyone to post work online to a unique URL with no log in required.

Set Rules and Expectations 

Before mentioning a blog to your students, figure out what the rules and expectations will be. Are comments allowed? If so, what happens to students who post mean-spirited or offensive comments? How will students be graded? If there’s a rubric, share it with students. How often and when do students need to post? Should students be reading and providing feedback on each other’s posts? Put answers to all these questions in writing (hey, that sounds like a good first blog post!).

Start Posting 

Once you have a blog up and running, set a schedule for posting. Will students post a reflection on the blog every Friday about what they learned? Is the blog a forum for book reviews or short analytical essays? (Be aware that not all students have Internet access at home and should be given time in class or after school to post their work.) What’s the process for corrections?

Have students think about their audience when they post. Who might be interested in reading this work? Who might stumble on it from Google? Bloggers should always have their audience in mind before they start to write.

Do you use a blog in your classroom? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

Hope bioHope Morley is a consultant and social media coordinator for Green Light Professional Development. She writes about social media, conferences, and anything else on the web that helps both students and teachers learn. Follow her @GreenlightLT

Use the Third and Long Documentary and App in Your Classroom

Third and Long documentary app

The Third and Long student app

Baseball may be considered the national pastime, but given the revelry that occurs every year at the beginning of the NFL season, it seems that Americans love football just as much. Yet, the story behind the integration of professional football has received less attention in our classrooms. Today, African American players account for more than 60% of the NFL, and the 2013 season featured a record number of Black quarterbacks. But such recognition did not come easily. Most students (and Americans in general) know that Jackie Robinson integrated Major League Baseball in 1947. But many of those same people don’t know that Kenny Washington and Woody Strode integrated professional football the year before. These fine athletes faced many of the same struggles as did the first African American baseball players, so their stories deserve to be a part of the curricula as well.

Third and Long documentary app 6

Green Light Learning Tools has partnered with T-Time Productions to create an interactive student workbook for their outstanding documentary, Third and Long: The History of African-Americans in Pro Football. The documentary includes interviews with football legends, such as Jim Brown, Willie Lanier, and Deacon Jones, plus contemporary greats, including Ray Lewis, Ozzie Newsome, and Tony Dungy.

Third and Long documentary app 3

The workbook breaks the documentary into five parts, each of which can easily fit into one class period. Each part of the workbook contains additional images and information to provide context for the film. Features include historical gems ranging from excerpts of  presidential speeches to iconic images from the civil rights movement. The workbook also includes timelines and vocabulary activities to get students involved in the action.

Third and Long documentary app 4

The student app is now available for free on the Apple or Amazon App Store. An iBook version of the film is available on the iBookstore for $3.99. For teachers without tablets, a PDF version of the workbook is available for free download at thirdandlong.tv.

How to use the app in your classroom

  • Have students watch each part of Third and Long and then read and complete the workbook at home.
  • After watching the film, have students break into small groups to complete the workbook.
  • Have students complete the workbook as homework to prepare for watching the film.
  • Use the film and workbook as a starting point to discuss the civil rights movement and the role of sports in American society.

For more information on obtaining a copy of the Third and Long documentary, contact T-Time productions.

5 Tools for Successful Teacher-Parent Communication

by Erin Dye

communication tools parents

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s back-to-school time! As you establish new routines with your students, it’s also a good time to think about how you’ll communicate with parents during the year. Parental involvement is a key factor in student achievement. Regular communication with parents keeps them informed about activities and assignments in your classroom as well as their child’s performance.

The following tools can make teacher–parent communication easy and effective:

1)   Create a class website or blog.

A class website is a great way to give parents an overview of your class. For example, you can post your contact information, a syllabus, classroom rules and expectations, and a schedule with important due dates. Weebly and Blackboard Engage are helpful resources for setting up classroom websites. Depending on how you want to use your site, you can keep the design basic or set up interactive features, such as discussion forums.

You can also create a class blog using a site such as Edublogs or Blogger (Google’s free blogging service). On your blog, you can post written updates, photos, and videos of what students are learning. Parents who read the blog will get a glimpse of specific classroom activities. 

2)   Use social networking sites.

Many parents check social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter regularly. Why not create a class Facebook page and Twitter account for parents who are on these sites anyway? This allows you to share frequent, quick updates about classroom happenings. You can even link your Twitter account to a Facebook page to make communication easier. Just remember to check your school’s rules regarding social media before posting anything.

3)   Give parents ongoing access to grades.

To minimize surprises at the end of a grading period, consider giving parents open access to their child’s progress. Many data management systems used for recording grades, such as Rediker, have secure portals for parents to view grades. If your school doesn’t use a system like this, then you can create a grade book online using a site like Edmodo or Engrade to share grades with parents.

4)   Text parents important information.

Using texting services such as Remind (formerly Remind101) allows teachers to communicate quickly with parents on their mobile devices about upcoming events or assignments without sharing their personal phone numbers. It’s also a great way for administrators to communicate time-sensitive information such as weather-related school closings.

5)   Don’t forget about emails, phone calls, and conferences.

Despite the many new methods of communicating with parents, sometimes emails, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings are the best ways to share information. Even if you update your blog or send out tweets regularly, not all parents see this information. Many parents appreciate getting regular email updates, such as newsletters, with important information in one place.

For emails or phone calls with individual parents, be sure to share your policies at the beginning of the school year. For example, let parents know if you return phone calls or emails within a certain time frame or if you have office hours when they can best reach you by phone. In addition, consider face-to-face meetings with parents as your schedule permits; sometimes these meetings are the best way to address specific questions or concerns.

What tools do you use to communicate with parents? Leave a comment to continue the discussion, or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAErin Dye is Manager of Consulting Services for Green Light Professional Development. She has extensive experience creating digital materials for interactive whiteboards and iPads. She writes about technology integration and GLPD’s work in local schools.

5 Educational YouTube Channels to Follow

by Hope Morley

Educational youtube channel

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Far from being just for cat videos, YouTube offers an unlimited amount of resources for learners. Many well-known and reliable websites and institutions have channels that focus specifically on one area of interest or study. Other channels present information from both the humanities and the sciences.

Here are five YouTube channels that offer educational videos on a wide variety of topics, including science, literature, social studies, music, and everything in between!

C.G.P. Grey

The C.G.P. Grey channel offers dozens of videos on politics, geography, and economics, as well as a few on science topics. C.G.P. Grey’s most popular video is “The Difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England Explained” (who doesn’t need a refresher on that?), which had more than 6 million views at the end of August 2014.

LEVEL: Middle to high school

Crash Course

Brothers Hank Green and John Green (yes, the The Fault in Our Stars author) launched this entertaining and informational channel in January 2012 with its first—and still most viewed—video about the agricultural revolution, the first in a 42-episode series on world history. When asked by a “student” if the presented information will be “on the test,” John’s reply is: “The test will last your entire life, and it will be comprised of the millions of decisions that, when taken together, make your life yours.” Other subjects covered are U.S. history, biology, ecology, literature, chemistry, and psychology.

LEVEL: High school

Library of Congress

Based in Washington, D.C., the Library of Congress (LOC) considers itself “the steward of millions of recordings dating from the earliest Edison films to the present.” Along with these first films and archival footage of historical and artistic events, the videos on the LOC channel range from music concerts to lectures on dozens of subjects to interviews with authors and other notable figures. The most viewed piece of media is a five-second film from 1894 showing the “Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze.” Another popular video is of boxing cats, which is exactly what it sounds like and proves that people were amused by feline behavior decades before the rise of the Internet.

LEVEL: Middle to high school

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and MIT OCW

One of the top universities in the country, MIT and its news team post videos of science experiments, the latest in technology and medicine, and even how to deflect asteroids with a paintball cloud! The most viewed page is a video that visualizes the speed of light.

In addition to its YouTube channel, MIT also maintains a web-based publication known as MIT OpenCourseWare (MIT OCW). MIT OCW offers thousands of university courses for free. MIT OCW has its own YouTube channel, in which learners can choose between thousands of lectures on subjects such as computer programming, the sciences, architecture, communications, law, and languages.

LEVEL: Middle to high school

Have any thoughts on these educational YouTube channels? Have any others you’d like to share? Leave a comment, or find us on Facebook and Twitter!

Hope bioHope Morley is a consultant and social media coordinator for Green Light Professional Development. She writes about social media, conferences, and anything else on the web that helps both students and teachers learn. Follow her @GreenlightLT

Collaborative Learning: What’s Tech Got to Do with It?

Part 3 of our series on collaborative learning. Read part 1 and part 2.

by Helen Beyne

collaborative learning

image courtesy bplanet at freedigitalphotos.net

Here are some ways to boost the frequency of collaborative learning in your classroom:

  • Writing workshops: Mixed groups of learners discuss and give feedback on each other’s writing.
  • Peer tutoring: This is a great way for a student to develop comprehension and skills and/or to clarify and make permanent their mastery of a topic.
  • Think-pair-share and Jigsaw: These methods are based on supportive interaction among learners.
  • Literature circles/Close reading groups: Active dialogue with peers hones students’ ability to tie their own ideas to the source text in order to explain their interpretation to their peers.
  • Other group projects with assigned roles such as timekeeper and note-taker. (Bonus: assigning roles is part of the CCCS Speaking and Listening strand.)

Depending on your access to technology, you can mix and match from the following ideas:

If your classroom is low-tech or analog-only, collaborative learning teams can work together by holding discussions, creating and assessing jigsaw presentations, completing written assignments as a group, or creating and explaining (or performing) visual or theatrical projects. You may wish to work together with your students to design rubrics that will help groups self-assess. Emphasizing the process over the product is a great way to help learners become self-directed and responsible. Check out this Edutopia roundup of some printable resources you can use right away.

If you have access to tablets, smartphones, laptops, or an interactive whiteboard, consider using them to assist groups in research, note-taking, timekeeping, brainstorming, or mind-mapping. Collaborative learners also may benefit from engaging multiple learning styles, so put those microphones, cameras, drawing apps, and editing software to use with tools like PowToon!  Groups can also use wikis, online forums, or even videoconferencing to communicate or organize learning resources.

Take note, teachers: Collaborative learning isn’t just for K–12 students. Teachers just like you are getting together and working to deepen their understanding of pedagogy, management, practices, and even everybody’s favorite thing: test prep. See our blog for more about building and using PLNs.

Drop us a line in the comments below, or visit us on Facebook, to let us know what collaborative learning looks like in your school!

Helen bioHelen Beyne is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development. She has years of experience in creating innovative curriculum materials in reading, ESL, science, and social studies. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.

How To Use Collaborative Learning in Your Classroom

Part 2 in our series on collaborative learning. Click here to read part 1.

by Helen Beyne

collaborative learning

Image courtesy of samarttiw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Collaborative learning happens when two or more learners, at different stages of mastery, work together on student-driven tasks. Wondering how you can build a collaborative space in your classroom? Read on.

Design Teams Carefully

The first step to making sure your class has a positive experience with collaborative learning is to design groups carefully. Think about the strengths and weaknesses of your students, and group them so each team represents the overall class. Take into consideration multiple learning styles, level of content mastery, and student interests. Additionally, set guidelines that clearly reflect all your expectations for the collaboration, such as, “Every person must give at least one opinion/answer/suggestion,” or “Listen carefully, and speak respectfully.”

Choose the Best Tools

You also may want to give students tools to help them get used to the process of collaborative learning, such as conversation-starter cards they can hold up that say “I agree/disagree,” “I suggest that we…,” “It’s time for a vote,” or “It’s time to move to the next phase.” Remember that physical space is a tool that can be used to enhance communication. Think about ways you can set up your classroom to encourage interaction.

Be a Facilitator

It might seem counterintuitive to hang back instead of stepping in, but you can be the most helpful to your collaborative learning teams by letting them work on their own. You will monitor the groups, of course, but keep intervention to the bare minimum. Instead of giving feedback about the content of the lesson, emphasize giving feedback on the process. For example, you may notice that some students need encouragement to speak up or some groups do a great job of managing their time and staying on task. In general, you want to emphasize process over product. This deepens thinking and helps learners get away from the “say the ‘right’ answer and move on” approach to school.

Model Best Practices

It’s also important that as you increase collaborative learning in your class, you model behaviors that match your explicit expectations. Collaboration demands that every voice be heard and that every student learns to listen and participate actively. Some students may struggle with either or both of these initially. Give students a wide variety of approaches to draw on, such as using probing and open-ended questions, active listening, and conflict resolution strategies as needed.

Helen bioHelen Beyne is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development. She has years of experience in creating innovative curriculum materials in reading, ESL, science, and social studies. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.

 

What Does Collaborative Learning Really Mean?

by Helen Beyne

Collaborative learning is working together to create deeper, better understanding.

Image courtesy of ddpavumba at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We know that students need to develop twenty-first century thinking skills and metacognitive skills. A great way to build self-awareness and metacognitive skills is to use, explain, and justify critical thinking with peers, then transfer that ability to internal processes.

What is collaborative learning? It’s probably already taking place in your classroom! Do you have two or more learners, at different stages of mastery, working together? You’re most of the way there. Learners who are struggling will benefit from observing and working with students who are further along. Students with a better grasp of the content will find that accurately assessing someone else’s level of understanding, and beginning the dialogue from that point, is a big step toward mastery. All members of a group will find that open dialogue can lead to important new insights and understanding of material.

Another key trait of collaborative learning is a learner-driven and -modified dynamic. This means that students are aware of the give-and-take within the group and adjust interactions as time goes on. The process of modifying the group’s interactions helps learners become‑and stay‑productively accountable to themselves as well as to others. Working collaboratively allows students to take on leadership roles, practice teamwork, and resolve conflict effectively.

An additional defining trait of collaborative learning is the common goal. Groups of learners must have an explicit goal that they are working toward together. Although this method is very process-driven, it will not succeed without some structure and a known endpoint.

Lastly, there is one thing that is generally absent from collaborative learning: you. The teacher, in this context, takes a hands-off, facilitator role instead of being the center of attention. As the teacher, you create a safe space for the teams to stretch, grow, and take risks without intervening at every stage.

Why is collaborative learning important to your class? Collaboration helps learners develop and mature their sense of responsibility as well as boost their sense of self-worth. It feels good to contribute to a meaningful task, and it feels good to have your contribution valued by your team! Working with peers provides authentic practice and real-time feedback on metacognitive processes such as clarifying, questioning, predicting, and summarizing.

In addition, students become responsible for their own learning through questioning, refocusing, and responding to one another. The process stretches learners and lends itself best to DOK (Depth of Knowledge) level 3 and 4 activities.

Have a success story to share? Want to chat about how collaborative learning and classroom technology are better together? Leave us a comment, or find us on Facebook and Twitter!

Helen bioHelen Beyne is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development. She has years of experience in creating innovative curriculum materials in reading, ESL, science, and social studies. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.

Back to School: Apps Every Student Should Have

by Helen Beyne

back to school best apps

images courtesy digital art/luigi diamanti | freedigitalphotos.net

It’s a brand new school year, one that is full of opportunities. It’s time to make use of the best back-to-school apps that not only will make life in the classroom easier but also will help students become more organized and study more effectively.

The following is a list of mobile apps for elementary, middle school, and high school students. Many of these mobile apps are free and can be loaded onto your students’ devices as they head back to school.

ScratchJr

iOS, Free

ScratchJr allows young children (ages 5–7) to program their own interactive games and stories. As children are learning how to code, they are simultaneously designing projects and learning how to problem solve.

SlateMath for Kids

iOS, Free

SlateMath for Kids uses engaging activities, which are aligned to the Common Core State Standards, to teach young children foundational math skills so they are prepared for kindergarten and first grade math.

Britannica Kids: Solar System

iOS, $4.99

Britannica Kids: Solar System is part of the Britannica Kids series. It allows students to learn and play as they explore the solar system. The app features stunning images, engaging videos, informative text, and fun games about the solar system. If you want to assess how much students know, you can use the quiz feature to test their knowledge.

National Geographic World Atlas

iOS, $1.99

National Geographic World Atlas delivers stunning, high-resolution map images to give you the best viewing experience. You can spin the interactive 3–D globe and zoom in on different areas of the world. The infographics allow you to see each country’s flag and learn fun facts about different countries. 

PopGeo USA Geography

iOS, $.99 

PopGeo is an engaging way to learn the geography of the United States. You can use this game to learn where the U.S. states, state capitals, major cities, and National Parks are located. The goal of the game is to travel as far as possible by dragging the targets to the correct location.

Google Drive

iOS and Android, Free

Google Drive provides free tools to take notes, write papers, create spreadsheets, and build presentations. It is also perfect for collaborating, since anyone in a group can work on it from any device.

Notability

iOS, $2.99

Notability is a great app if you need to write, illustrate, or record. It also allows you to complete worksheets, type an essay, create an outline, and insert pictures and links. One of its best features is the playback option, which allows you to replay your notes, since every note you take or sketch you make is linked to the audio recording. Another useful feature is the search tool, which allows you to quickly find notes by title or content. You can organize your notes by subject and back up all of your work to Google Drive or Dropbox.

gFlash+

iOS and Android, Free

gFlash+ allows you to create, download, and manipulate as many flashcards as you want for free. You can also easily share them with your teachers and classmates, making this app a must-have study tool.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

iOS and Android, Free

Merriam-Webster Dictionary allows you to look up words and their definitions and even teaches you how to say the words correctly. It also includes example sentences, a voice search, and a thesaurus so that you can find better words to use in your papers.

Learner’s Dictionary

iOS, Free

Learner’s Dictionary by Merriam-Webster Dictionary is designed for English language learners. It provides the tools to master both written and spoken English.

AccelaStudy

iOS, Free

AccelaStudy is award-winning language software that uses spaced repetition to help you master a language in the shortest amount of time. It includes thousands of vocabulary words, flashcards, and quizzes so that you can assess your progress as you learn.

WolframAlpha

iOS and Android, $2.99

Wolfram Alpha allows you to search for information from thousands of domains. The software, which Siri uses to answer questions, turns any device into a supercomputer.  When you ask it a question, it gathers detailed answers so that you don’t have to do the work. It also includes a problem generator that allows you to practice solving problems.

Khan Academy

iOS and Android, Free

Khan Academy’s app features more than 4,200 videos. Its extensive library contains content for all grade levels and covers a variety of subject areas, including math, science topics, and the humanities. The app also lets you create playlists and tracks your history so that you can easily access previously viewed content.

Literary Analysis Guide

iOS, $2.99

Literary Analysis Guide is a literary reference guide. It arranges literary elements around poetry, prose, and rhetoric to help students better understand the effect of literary elements on style and meaning. Clicking on a literary element reveals its definition, examples from literature, and questions to ask about how the device is used in the literature you are studying.

Shakespeare

iOS and Android, Free

This Shakespeare app includes the complete works of Shakespeare. It allows you to customize your reading experience and jump from one scene to another. Each scene is broken down to provide you with a detailed overview of the scene in each play.

Graphing Calculator

iOS, $1.99

Graphing Calculator turns your device into a high-resolution scientific calculator and function plotter, making it a must-have for any high school student.

Helen bioHelen Beyne is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development. She has years of experience in creating innovative curriculum materials in reading, ESL, science, and social studies. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.

Lost in Transition

by Tom Nieman

teaching handwriting cursive

Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A friend who is a speech and language pathologist and who sits on a school board with me recently sent me a link to a New York Times article, “What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades.” It began with a provocative question, “Does handwriting matter?”

Handwriting, To Be or Not to Be

The answer turned out to be a bit complicated. After consultation of several studies by PhD psychologists (one of whom wrote a follow-up letter with five corrections to the article), the upshot of all of the back-and-forth appeared to be:

We should be teaching handwriting in grades K-2, along with teaching how to use keyboards, and that de-emphasizing handwriting because of the Common Core was unfortunate. The reason for teaching it is that the act of writing by hand and associating letters with ideas stimulates the brain and aids its development.

One does not have to do only one or the other; both handwriting and using a keyboard are important for a child’s brain development. Many directors of school curriculum have already given handwriting the heave-ho. Good riddance, they say, in the name of going digital.

Yet, in my life, I realize how important handwriting has been to me. My own is the illegible scrawl of a lefty, and an impatient one at that. Since my early student years I have kept notebooks of one kind or another, often to write down quotes from books I was reading. More often I wrote down words whose meanings I didn’t know and the phrases or sentences they were in so that I could look the words up later. I credit a lot of what seemed to be mindless copying to giving me a wide vocabulary and modeling for me how to write. The act of writing by hand made an impress on my memory.

Now, as a professional habit, I have taken to writing notes in small spiral notebooks during phone and in-person meetings to aid in remembering details. Listening carefully, participating in a discussion, and operating a keyboard all at once simply overwhelm my circuits. Only at conferences, where I am a passive participant, is my tablet with keyboard invaluable. So, it is with mixed feelings that I see the teaching of handwriting being jettisoned from so many elementary schools.

Paper or Tablet?

On the same day I read about the lasting benefits of handwriting, I met another friend for lunch, this one an author of some twenty or so books. He asked me if I read on a tablet. I do quite often, but I am also just as comfortable reading paper books. Then my friend asked the more telling question: “Is your reading the same on a tablet?” He wanted to know if I read in the same way, or did I, like he, find myself skimming paragraphs more often and flipping through pages, surfing through the dull parts. I had to admit I do.

His question led me to consider how my reading had changed since I acquired an iPad. My reading is not more superficial with digital texts, but the ease of flipping pages does increase my impatience at the slightest bit of droning on. The problem of locating exactly where one is in a digital text also increases my agitation, making lines and whole pages easier to skip.

To the good, my note-taking is much improved with an iPad, and access to the meaning of allusions—for example, I came across a reference to Buridan’s ass recently—is but a click away. Further, the ability to download my next book while traveling on vacation or business is one of the more freeing pleasures I know of. With a giant bookstore available in the cloud, why not leave home without it?

And the Beat Goes On

Warming to this subject, I realized that I might also cite my older brother who still uses a digital camera, as opposed to a phone camera like so many of us, and recall that he produces the best family pictures, which he shares on Dropbox.

Ditto, too, for my neighbor who works in his yard on evenings and weekend listening to the dulcet sounds of his phonograph, with its turntable playing vinyl records he collects, blaring tunes out of the upstairs windows of his home, serenading his neighbors with oldies like Bobby Womack’s “If You Think You’re Lonely Now”:

If you think you’re lonely now, huh
Wait until tonight, girl
(If you think you’re lonely now)
I’ll be long gone

I started out in an era with handwriting, paperbacks, film cameras, and phonographs with turntables. At some point, all of these will go the way of phone booths and, like that girl’s man, they’ll be “long gone,” which is all the more reason to appreciate the differences they hold while they are still around.

Tom bioTom Nieman is president of Green Light Professional Development and Nieman Inc., a privately held company that specializes in developing curriculum materials for educational publishers.