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Ian O'Byrne

Some days are diamonds Some days are rocks Some doors are open Some roads are blocked - Tom Petty In this week's issue of TL;DR. Find out more at #persistence

Ian O'Byrne

We are what we think about all day long. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

2 min read

Our beliefs and narratives hld us back and in many ways imprison us from achieving what we'd like to accomplish during our lives.

From an early age we are indocritinated to this narrative about how we're supposed to act, about the value of hard work, and our role in society. We use this narrative as a form of belief system that includes conscious and unconscious information that impacts what we see as being "real." This narrative and belief system impacts our views about "truth" and perspectives on the world.

We filter our view of the world through these prisms and react to what may at times be misconceptions about the current milieu. Regardless of what the truth may be, we filter this truth, see what we want to see, and reject most everything else.

If we want to make a real change in our lives, we need to recognize these self and socially constructed narratives and question the root of our thinking. What are the narratives and belief systems that dictate our decisions? In what ways do these hold us back from living the way that we choose? How might we revise, or recreate these narratives to achieve self-actualization?

As we change what we see to what we want to see, we must start with changing ourselves. We need to question and understand our present state and reality. What is the current state in which we exist? What are our capabilities? 

Our present state is determined by education, environment, family connections, childhood experiences, successes, failures, and religious beliefs.

Within these contexts, everything that is happening to you in your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual present state is the result of what in going on in your mind. You can be what you want your mind frames it to be. 

What do you think about and bring into being?


Ian O'Byrne

The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living - Marcus Tullius Cicero

2 min read

As the world becomes incresingly digitized, and online social networks keep us bound to each other, it's interested to view the events that follow the passing of a friend or loved one.

As celebrities die, I'll frequently head to Twitter first to see if this is indeed true, or just a hoax. Google searches are too slow, and Facebook becomes an echo chamber if the news is untrue. It ultimately becomes a place where the news is muddied with the news of the hoax, and the people that can't tell the difference. 

My first time hearing that an celebrity had passed, and searching on Twitter was for Whitney Houston. I couldn't find the truth online. With a quick Twitter search and scan, I was able to easily find a source or two, and multiple retweets that corroborated this information.

As "celebrities" pass, the citizens of the Internet erect a rememberance of sorts of the person and their works. Remixes, obituaries, and searching back for work in their past are made very easy due to the nature of digital information. 

Recently, Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest passed away. My phone, through Google Now sent me a "card" of information letting me know that he had passed. Google knows what music I listen to, and that perhaps I would be interested in knowing this information. It also had links to numerous tributes, YouTube clips, and playlists to learn more, and remember this artist.

Google also foregrounded a tribute to Phife Dawg from a traffic reporter in Atlanta the next time I signed in to YouTube. 

We have been using technology as a possible means to press in and learn more about the living and dead in the past. Now i appears that technology may be pushing back to create these connections.


Ian O'Byrne

Review of Chapter Submission for Handbook of Research on Teaching the English Language Arts

6 min read

Repositioning Online Reading To A Central Location In The Language Arts

Kervin, Mantei, & Leu

Review of Chapter Submission

Handbook of Research on Teaching the English Language Arts, 4th Edition


The submitted manuscript identifies a much-needed step in the advancement of the integration of technology in literacy instruction. The chapter is of high interest the educators and researchers that would use the Handbook as guidance in the field. The chapter continues to make the case for why we need this thread of instruction in the classroom, but also builds this case by providing a more global perspective to these activities. Finally, the submitted manuscript includes connections to other fields of research to make it more inclusive and connected to related work in the field. For these reasons, I recommend the publication of this manuscript in the Handbook of Research on Teaching the English Language Arts.

Making the case for the centrality of online reading

The Internet is the dominant text of our generation, yet we continue to have to make the case for why digital texts and tools should be authentically embedded in classroom instruction. The authors of this piece have been at the forefront of pushing this agenda and continue this important work in the submitted manuscript. The authors expertly frame this chapter for the handbook by starting with the framing of the social practices necessary for these new spaces and contextualize this with guidance from the worlds of economics and global development. With this subtle framing, they move on to paint a picture of the need for these literacies while considering a more global focus for this discussion. It is this nod to the more global aspect of online reading and literacy that I most appreciate in this submission.

As these new and digital literacies continue to become much more ubiquitous across global spaces, I believe we need to continue to push and advocate for those less fortunate that may not have access to these texts or spaces. If the inclusion and use of online texts in the classroom is a necessary and powerful element, we need to advocate for opportunities for all learners in global classrooms. Literacy is a powerful force and this is augmented by the influx of the Internet and other communication technologies. As governments and businesses increasingly monitor and adjust our online reading habits, we need a global population that fully understands the challenges and complexity associated with being digitally literate.

Connections to other fields and perspectives 

            In reviewing this chapter submission I also appreciate the nuanced changes in framing this work from previous examinations of online reading. The primary focus on disciplinary literacy recontextualizes this work within another dominant perspective in literacy education and research. This first theoretical perspective makes it easier for educators to align the reading of online texts with current initiatives that draw most of the attention in the English Language Arts classroom. Much of the challenge in carving out time for these new and digital literacies in instruction is that the Common Core State Standards and other frameworks often dominate the focus. The role and use of technology is often given a back seat, or ignored as educators and curricular coaches frame pedagogy. By focusing first on disciplinary literacy, the authors truly seek to reposition online reading.

            In the review of the chapter I was also excited to see a focus on theories of materiality and multimodality guiding this work. It is these examples of material culture that provide important perspective on the skills and practices associated with online reading. Furthermore, I believe this inclusion adds to the global perspectives that are imbued throughout this submission. This provides connections to other perspectives on new and digital literacies, and makes this a much more accommodating and inclusive guide to educators making room for online reading in their classroom.

Actionable advice for the literacy educator

            The remainder of the chapter presents granular guidance for the literacy educator and pre-service teacher as they identify opportunities to make this happen in their classroom. Too often we hear that educators “don’t get technology,” this submission provides approachable, actionable advice for integrating online reading into classroom activities. The authors also do a stellar job of identifying and addressing most of the arguments, or counter narratives that may exist as we integration technology into literacy instruction. An example of this is evidenced in sections that address assessment practices, simulated assessments, and the basic computer skills needed to operate in these spaces. The authors effectively balance theory, perspectives, actionable advice, and questions that remain in this work.

            I also appreciate the focus on beginning with younger readers and connections between emergent reading and online reading. In far too many examinations of new and digital literacies we identify the skilled and less proficient use of these skills and strategies with a population of adolescent or adult learners. We understand that learners develop their learning and literacy roadmap for their future from Pre-K up through third grade and then beyond. Yet, very little is know about best principles associated with brining online reading and associated literacies into the context of emergent reading or soon after. The authors interject this discussion by bringing connections to online reading into the work and research in emergent reading. This has the potential to guide and motivate future literacy educators and researchers.

Repositioning a central location

            The submitted manuscript presents a necessary, and forward thinking chapter for the Handbook. I believe the materials attempt to situate the reader in the current milieu, and then prognosticate for that crystal ball that you requested. The focus of the text is thankfully shifted to a more global perspective. These threads are evident across the text and woven in to the conclusion. The theoretical perspectives are accommodating, and make for a much more inclusive read as educators try to identify places to embed online reading into instruction. Finally, the guidance and materials presented to operationalize this in the classroom is actionable and specific enough to guide all learners. I believe the authors have developed a piece that certainly carves out a spot in the English Language Arts classroom and in the process helps reposition it to a more central location.

Ian O'Byrne

February 23, 2016

2 min read

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. - Norman Cousins

In working through goals and identifying elements that I need to complete next...I'm often sidetracked by events in the day that maximize my time.

I'm thinking specifically of three offers to complete reviews, or do one form of work (that will suck up a couple hours of my time) for free. I've also wasted about an hour of my time in just thinking about whether or not I should complete them. Finally, it's filling up a space in my email inbox. Which, as a devotee of Inbox Zero, is an annoying nag that irks me as I open it up.

A couple of weeks ago I put up a link to the mindset that we say "hell yeah..or no" when we look at jobs, offers, and responsibilities. Had I followed that advice in the past, I wouldn't have a chapter for a book that was due last week that I have nothing done on. :)

I need to be more clear and protective of my time. I need to be able to say no to these offers that may go nowhere...and focus on the elements that I chose to complete. 

The ultimate result would be that I would have a bunch of these reviews and connections made that lead to nowhere...and not have my side project completed. 

That is not acceptable. 

Ian O'Byrne

January 22, 2016

2 min read

Building up your digital identity.

In starting up, or building your digital identity from basic scraps, or nothingness, the first step is to begin thinking about the role or representation you'd like to have online. Write out six words to represent you...and the identity that you'd like to have online. These six words could be individual sentences, a phrase, etc. It's totally open-ended. 

Write out the six words and identify the what, why, and how you'd like to represent yourself. These six words may change over time as we develop and build up your online identity...and that is okay. 

After identifying the profile of your digital identity, we need to start to build up a hub for all of your content. This hub will be a website with blogging features. The thinking will be that this will be your one spot, or one URL online that people can use to see your work grow and evolve over time. 

This spot, your digital identity, and the aesthetics of this will evolve over time, and that is perfectly fine. As you build up the website, or add a social network, or start blogging, you'll explore and identify new features or opportunities you'd like to add to your overall identity.

The idea of evolution and maturation of your digital identity is also a key element as you need to consider that you've already built up a lot of content online and offline. You have content that exists in files on computers that have never been shared. You also have pictures, audio, conversations, interpersonal connections that exist offline. You need to consider ways to go backwards and cherrypick the "good stuff" from the past and add it to your identity. You also need to identify ways to create and archive digital copies of your current and future work so that it can join your evolving digital presence.