Most people revel in Spring Break...or any break for that matter, but I often spend my breaks catching up. While I've been working in the classroom there are blogs not getting read, or when I'm participating in my personal learning community, there is school work that needs attention. It's a labor of love!
Having online A.D.D doesn't help either. There were 364 new blogs sitting in my reader waiting to be skimmed and I've only managed to get through FOUR before stopping to add a FeedJit widget to my blog and waste 30 minutes clicking on links. Some 147 of the posts are from Stephen Downes OL Daily feed and I'm afraid to start reading them for fear of spending two hours listening to a conference sectional on Connectivist learning theory (of which I am believer in).
Skimming...a skill that has become really helpful! Or should I call it: hunt, kill, and devour. That's how I've been consuming most of my information lately. Let me search for what I want, skim it for key words/facts/points, and then move on. I've even noticed that my online research skills work in the REAL library:
Over this summer, we will to have to refinish our back deck. It is a massive beast, and neither my wife nor I are looking forward to it. The main problem is that it has some boards that are badly in need of replacing. Not a problem, I built the deck on my last home, how hard can this be? The problem is, the decking is made of 2x4's standing on edge. How do you replace a board that is nailed horizontally to five other 2x4's? No Sweat! I'll go online and surely there is a contractors forum or google/yahoo usergroup for this kind of stuff; I'll us my "expert search" techniques and have a plan formulated so that on June 1st, we are ready to go. Wow...can I tell you that I couldn't find squat about "on edge 2x4 decking." After trying every search term, term combination, term variation, I gave up. The stark realization was that I didn't have the vocabulary skills needed to even begin searching. Without proper terms, search was useless. So I did what I hadn't done in about 15 years....I went to the public library! To make an already too long story shorter, I spent 20 minutes finding the books I needed and about half that time skimming their indexes (which by the way where useless), tables of contents, and pages for topics, keywords, and pics that would give me somewhere to go. The only thing I got was the phrase "on edge." Which was not previously one of my search terms.
The point of that story was how the online skill of skimming content transferred over into the print media. I shouldn't have been suprised, but I was none the less. That skill for me is turning out to be so valuable and the worst part is that I can't quite figure out HOW I developed it (other than just shear volume and time)? Could students be taught to duplicate it? How many wasted hours will students spend trudging through hoards of junk just to find one nugget of truth only to find it isn't really the truth? This sounds like a very real and strong connection between study skills and literacy skills.
Well...with those blogs staring at me, I had better get reading....or should I say...skimming :-)
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