Sophisticated digital tools allow texts to be annotated, videos to be produced, interactive learning experiences created, all of which further enhance student learning.
However, “The only way to allow students to assemble [an] essential toolbelt for information and communication is to to throw open your classroom and let the world in” (Socol, n.d., para. 17). This is a powerful quote, as it is essential for teachers to not only stock their toolbelt, but to help students stock theirs too. Socol (n.d.) goes on to say,
How will your students know which calendar works for them – the one on their phone, Google Calendar with SMS appointment texting, Microsoft Outlook, or any of a dozen paper systems unless you allow them to try them out? How will your students know whether they ‘get’ a novel better by listening to an audiobook, or reading it on paper, or using text-to-speech, if you don’t let them experience all repeatedly and help them decide? Will their choice be the same when they are reading history texts? Math texts? Again, how will they know? How will they know which is the best way for them to write, by hand (either on paper or on a tablet system), by keyboard (and which keyboard), or by voice, if they do not get to try out all the kinds of writing they need to do with all these tools?
They won’t know. And you – the school, the teacher, the education system – will have deprived them of these essential skills.
It matters for all students, of course, but- as always – if you are “rich, white, and normal” it matters a bit less. You will have fewer needs, your parents will buy you more supports, you will be surrounded in your daily life by sophisticated tool users. So not bringing Toolbelt Theory into your classroom just exacerbates inequity – yes, of course – as school does in most things.
After reading those paragraphs, I felt a sense of urgency to figure out how I will implement the Toolbelt theory into my practice. How will I equip students with “Tasks – Environments – Skills – Tools” (TEST) that show them how they learn best (Socol, n.d.)?
Socol, I. D. (n.d.) Toolbelt Theory. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/iradavidsocol/home/toolbelt-theoryOctober 23, 2018.