Angle 2: What Navigation System Do You Use?

Oct 14, 2010 by

If you haven’t read my last two blog posts (Same Story–Two Angles and Angle 1:  Enjoying the Ride) you might want to do so before reading today’s entry—it will make more sense that way!

Here is another narrative about my recent trip to New Jersey.  Even though it is about the same experience as yesterday’s narrative, it didn’t make sense to include this in that piece.  Today I write about the same experience from a new angle.  I encourage you to model this for your students and ask them to linger with a topic longer instead of always moving on to brand-new topics.

                                What Navigation System Do You Use?

I recently got a great deal on a new phone.  I hate to admit it, but it’s one of those phones that has an app for practically everything but doing my laundry.  Because of all the traveling I do, I feel at least partially justified in indulging in a phone with built in e-mail, web access, mobile hot spot, and navigation system.  But it’s also just plain fun!  Well, I recently traveled to New Jersey to present a writing in-service.  After the seminar I had a bit of a drive to the airport, so I decided this would be the perfect time to try out my new Navigator App.  I plugged in my destination (actually, I just spoke into the phone and it found the destination).  It said it would take about 1 1/2 hours to get there.  Great, I thought.  Since it was only 12:30 pm and my flight didn’t depart until 4:25 pm, I would have some extra time to get some work done at the airport.

I started on my way, listening carefully for my navigator friend’s voice (she actually has a pleasant-sounding voice—what a bonus!).  I probably should have also consulted a map, but I was so excited to use my new toy that I just followed her lead.  Well, what should have taken 1 1/2 hours actually took over 2 1/2.  No, she didn’t get me lost—she just didn’t take the best route.  It’s not entirely her fault—I did get stuck behind a line-painting truck for awhile, and I took a couple of short sightseeing detours to enjoy the gorgeous fall colors. 

DSCF4608 But still…over 2 1/2 hours?!  Partway into the trip, the little voice in my head starting telling me this might not be the best route, but I still followed her.  Since I had a lot of time in the car, I also had a lot of time to think.  And as often happens just after presenting a seminar, my thoughts turned toward teaching.  What I began to think about was this:  I often have teachers ask me, “What is one professional book you would recommend for teaching _________?”  I know the question that is often behind that question is “Can you just recommend one resource that will tell me exactly how/when/what to teach?”  That is an impossible question for me to answer.  Want to see what resources I use to teach reading and writing?  Here’s a peek at my bookshelves:

DSCF4611 See why I can’t pick just one?

My question for you is, what do you use to navigate your way through the teaching process?  Are you relying on one source to do it all for you?  If so, I encourage you to exercise some caution.  There is no one source that is a one-size-fits-all.  We need to use common sense and good judgment.  If your instinct tells you something doesn’t feel quite right, that what the manual tells you to do doesn’t seem best for kids, STOP!  Reassess.  Look back at your standards or curriculum map.  Ask “Why am I doing this?  What is my purpose?”  Maybe it’s time to consult a new source instead of listening to this one voice that is steering you in possibly not the best direction. 

My phone does have apps for doing things I never dreamed a phone could do.  On my trip I was able to use it to take the pictures for these blog entries, check for the cheapest gas on the way to the airport, consult the weather forecast so I could dress appropriately, check my e-mail, listen to an audio book on the airplane, and even call home a few times.  My phone can do a lot of things for me, BUT…it can’t think for me and it doesn’t have common sense.  I learned that I can’t rely on it alone to get me most effectively to my destination.

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