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Barrington teachers’ book inspires ‘instantaneous learning’

Prairie Middle School teachers Meg Gaier (right) Jamie Diamond wrote “Literacy Lessons for Digital World” help teachers incorporate technology literacy

Prairie Middle School teachers Meg Gaier (right) and Jamie Diamond wrote “Literacy Lessons for a Digital World” to help teachers incorporate technology and literacy into multiple classroom subjects. | Provided

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Updated: March 1, 2014 4:16AM

With their recently-published book, “Literacy Lessons for a Digital World,” Prairie Middle School teachers Meg Gaier and Jamie Diamond are influencing classrooms well beyond their District 220 classrooms.

Diamond and Gaier explained that the goal was to help teachers incorporate technology and literacy into multiple classroom subjects including math, science and reading. Blogging, podcasts and wikis are among the technology discussed in the book.

“I think that’s really what sets it apart,” said Diamond, a seventh grade English teacher. “We wanted to show that technology is adaptable.”

Gaier, an eighth grade algebra teacher, noted that the book is separated into chapters that address different subjects and how to incorporate literacy and technology into those areas. For example, she explained that many find the idea of literacy in a math curriculum to be a hard concept. To bring literacy into the math classroom, Gaier said her students are assigned to blog about their problem-solving processes.

“Blogging is my favorite thing to do with my algebra students. It’s not just the teacher talking, it’s them talking and all their peers can see it, too,” Gaier said. “I think one of the things they enjoy most is being able to share their work with others in the class.”

Gaier said blogging also is a great way for shy students to have a voice in a less intimidating atmosphere.

“We’ve got the literary strand throughout the lessons,” Diamond added.

Explaining wikis, Diamond and Gaier said they use the collaborative websites to facilitate discussion and encourage students to practice reading and writing in the context of other subjects. Podcasts, because they lack a visual component, can be a tool for encouraging students to use detail in descriptions during various assignments, they explained.

When all the pieces come together, Diamond and Gaier said the technology helps create a more seamless experience for both the student and the instructor.

“It’s very engaging,” Diamond said. “It’s instantaneous learning. You don’t have to go down the hall to the library. It’s so instantaneous. It’s very powerful.”

Diamond and Gaier said the book also works as a tool to help schools better align with the Common Core State Standards, which require more cross-curriculum literacy.

“It’s not just the English teacher’s job to teach reading anymore,” Gaier said.

Diamond and Gaier credited their years of experience teaching multiple subjects for helping them write the book, which aims to reach all corners of school curriculum. Diamond taught English and history, and Gaier taught math, science and reading.

Diamond said one of the most fulfilling aspects of getting the book published is the idea that she and Gaier can influence countless teachers and students.

“It’s opened a lot of doors,” she said. “It’s fun to share with other teachers.”

The book was published Nov. 22, about two years after Diamond and Gaier came up with the idea.

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