Dr. Marva Solomon: Teacher of Teachers
February 05, 2013
The ASU assistant professor of teacher education advocates that children should learn how to analyze what they read on the Internet and to question where the information originates.
“You can’t just say, ‘Oh, I read it,’” she said. “You have to know who said it and why they said it. What is their bias? That is important because kids will buy into what they read. A key element will be to teach them to check their sources and put information together in their own heads.”
To further her philosophy, Solomon teaches ASU courses in reading assessment, which teachers use to determine where children are in their development as readers and writers. She has also watched the evolution of the Internet and its impact on daily life, and addressed the subject in Teaching the New Writing: Technology, Change, and Assessment in 21st Century Classrooms, a guide for teachers by teachers who shared stories and successes along with examples of students’ online and multimedia projects.
“I had a piece in that book on young kids using the Internet to compose online nonfiction texts,” she said.
“Nowadays in education, you don’t just teach students knowledge. You teach them how to find it.”
As part of her research, Solomon studied the use of technology, like iPads, integrating the devices into the school setting and teaching younger students how to dig for their own knowledge.
“Nowadays in education,” she said, “you don’t just teach students knowledge. You teach them how to find it. Knowledge is important, but they have to know how to get it themselves, because who knows what knowledge is going to be in the future?”
A graduate of Abilene High School and Texas Tech University, Solomon taught elementary school grades 1-4 in the Austin area for 18 years before completing her doctorate at the University of Texas and moving into higher education at ASU. She still pulls material from her doctoral dissertation, which includes research on digital storytelling for first graders.
“I’ve been presenting on that and just had a paper published in Talking Points, an NCTE magazine,” she said.
NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English, is an organization for language arts teachers and the parent organization for the National Writing Project.
Outside of her regular teaching duties, Solomon is also the new director of ASU’s Pearl of the Concho Writing Project, taking over from Dr. Marilyn Eisenwine, who will retire from the Teacher Education Department at the end of the spring semester. The Pearl of the Concho Writing Project is one of 10 National Writing Project sites in Texas that train public school teachers to improve writing instruction in their classrooms. For Solomon, it is a way for her to stay connected with her love of writing.
“As a kid, I wanted to be a teacher, a writer and an astronaut,” she said. “I always liked to write, and then I became a teacher, but I still wanted that opportunity to write. The best way for me to do that was to become a professor.”
Solomon plans to continue her work with the Pearl of the Concho Writing Project and, whether the topic is storytelling or surfing the Internet, she will instruct future teachers coming through her ASU classes to teach their students the intricacies of dealing with the digital world.