Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Glimpses in Time

I had an interesting Ah-ha! moment today -- and as usual with me, things started to spiral forward taking on their own momentum.

As with outdoor ed, the Fur Trade Game I developed, the 3 Old Lady heads in my class, and a few other things along the way, I learned another very valuable lesson from kids today...

My students were absolutely THRILLED when I asked them, as an experiment, to try using their iPod touches and cell phones in class today, to complete a writing assignment. So much so that I discovered I'd created a monster when the kids in the next class came to me at the break and asked if it was true that my kids were using their cell phones in class, and could I convince THEIR teacher to let them use them for school work too?

And so I had to back-track with my kids, and clarify EXACTLY what we were doing, the RULES of the road, for now, and the problems we're obviously going to have to solve in order to get there. And there are quite a few... But the kids kept crowding around excitedly, wanting to tell me all about the devices they use -- and it struck me once again -- what were they really telling me?!?!?

They were excited!! This was THEIR world!! They might just be getting a chance to bring and use something cool from their world into the world of class work and learning. They were teaching the teacher!! They were really excited about what they were doing!!

And any time I have seen that excitement, I know the kids are really telling me something right....

And on the very same day, I was participating in a SmartBoard in-service at school this afternoon, a few teachers at a time. And as the presenter (sorry, I didn't catch her name) started up the whole thing, I suddenly had a full-blown vision of teaching in the classroom in the not-so-far-off-future. With all of the new technological tools my kids and I have been exploring in the last 2 months during this Olympic Adventure, and with all the things I've been contemplating and tossing around upon my return -- trying to make some sense of everything I've been doing and learning -- even the monster I created earlier today -- when that teacher opened up her SmartBoard presentation, it all just fell into place, and I had a very clear vision of where all of this technology is taking us in education, as teachers, and as learners.

Obviously I come to this later than so many others -- obviously there are lots of educators out there right now who are already living it in various stages of progress and achievement, depending on what's available to them and their students . . . .

But I could suddenly clearly see the entirely linked communication systems in the classroom through which teachers will be able to plan and present interactive lessons and activities with students at their desks with their own technological devices -- whatever they end up being -- while at the same time students can BE physically anywhere! In that particular class room, in another room, in another building, on a field trip, sick at home recuperating from the flu, etc. etc. etc. Parents and administrators, for better or worse, will be absolutely be able to take a look in and see what's going on, even talk and participate if that's appropriate. Students working together in small like-interest groups, like skill-set groups, social groups, family groups, whatever the structure appropriate to the learning goal.

Lessons taught by the teacher in person (yes), but with assignments outlined, co-planned
and completed collaboratively, work assessed, discussed, revised, submitted electronically, and on and on and on . . .

School organization and administration operating seamlessly through individual communication systems simultaneously activated and accessible by staff both on site and off. Yes, with administrators walking around in person! ( I do think humans are wise enough to have understood that a human touch and a human relationship is an essential component of effective child development and learning.)

So tonight I kept mulling over the idea of having the students develop presentations for teachers? parents? to explain all of these new technological tools which we don't even know about -- a World of Technology Fair -- and started contemplating the problems inherent in doing that if it included immature students and insecure adults who happened to collide. Hmmm. I guess it would need to be limited to mature students who I'm confident I could teach how to explain things to adults without offending them.

I think it's all so cool!! And it would so fun; the kids would love it -- and the adults would have a legitimized reason to learn what all of these things are that our kids are walking around and using. The students' job would be to explain them, just like any other Science Fair.

(To this day, I have never seen or used an X-Box, I just learned today what an iPod Touch actually does, I have no idea how online gaming works, and I haven't a clue about so many other things my kids use. Such a dinosaur I am!!)

Would it build some bridges between kids and adults? Would it give the kids with an over-blown or false sense of power or superiority? Perhaps it would have to be simply by invitation, and only those adults who feel comfortable with that scenario would end up attending, anyway!!

That's all for now... This is NOT one of my carefully edited and revised posts. Just rambling and turning things over.

And --
I'm just saying....