Keepin It Real: A Review



Lisa Donohue compares educators to that of Christopher Columbus, the explorer that used the tools at hand to navigate unchartered territory. According to Donohue, “our youngsters are the ones who will define the worlds to come, and our role is to equip them as well as possible for the unknown future.” Are we preparing our students, who like Columbus, are entering unchartered territories, or are we providing our students with learning environments that are best suited for us?

It is hard to deny that technology plays a greater role in both our personal and professional lives. Despite this increasing reliance on technology, and a global dialogue about technology enabled learning and teaching, how many educators truly embrace technology in their classroom as a means of supporting current, sound pedagogical practice? Let’s be honest, how many technology enabled learning opportunities have been missed because of an educator’s unwillingness to embrace change and take learning risks in an ongoing effort to support student learning?


 What does your classroom practice look like?


“…teaching is the only profession where we have the same responsibilities on our first day as on our last. It’s the way in which we carry out these responsibilities that define our career.  If we’re doing the same thing we did 20 years ago , then we have failed not only ourselves , but our students to.”-Arthur Birenaum.

Keepin It Real, provides 21st century classroom opportunities that any educator can implement that support the skills we need to empower our students to be successful, engaged individuals outside of our schools.

The author focuses on the “new literacies” needed to be successful in our changing world:

  • Reading Literacies
  • Writing Literacies
  • Media Literacies
  • Digital Literacies
  • Social Literacies
  • Critical Literacies


These are vitally important skills to be able to interpret the world we live in. As educators, we need to adapt to the rapid changes in order to help our students safely navigate the online world in which they learn, play and work in.

At the recent  technology enabled learning and leading conference #TELL2016, the message was clear, we can no longer afford to wait for all educators to become “comfortable” with technology before engaging our students.



Trying to “get on board” with technology in the classroom can seem like trying to jump onto a fast moving train that just won’t slow down! It may seem like you will never “know it all” or “well enough” to introduce it to your students, but that is is the benefit of integrating technology into the classroom! Our students are so open to learning and sharing alongside you and they don’t expect you to know it all. In fact, they love to show you what they know! Integrating technology into your classroom also allows you to model lifelong learning, co-learning and risk taking-valuable skills for our students!

As Donohue explained

“When I began my teaching career many years ago, I stood at the door  of my classroom every morning, welcoming my students into my room. It seems that now I stand at my classroom door and, instead of inviting them in, I invite them to look out, beyond our walls, beyond our community and into the world.”

-Lisa Donohue, Keepin It Real, 79

Keepin It Real is a great resource to get started on transforming your teaching practice by integrating technology.It explains how the “new literacies” are a means of supporting the “old literacies” (reading, writing, speaking, listening) while engaging students with 21st-century learning opportunities. Each chapter provides relevant, easy to use examples of how educators have integrated technology into their lessons and Donohue provides student feedback from each of the tasks.

If, as educators, we want to do what is best for our students, we need to prepare them for a world that is highly connected and digitalized. If we remain in our comfort zones, we support student learning that allows them to remain successful in our world, not theirs.

“The primary aim of education is not to enable students to do well in school, but to do well in the lives they lead outside of school.”

                                                                                                             -Elliot W. Eisner


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