Sunday, January 8, 2012

Christmas Gifts Welcome in the Classroom


As we returned to class this past week and carried out the annual Show and Tell ritual, I was struck by the number of digital gadgets my students had received...

Laptops, I Pods, tablets, Wii systems, e Readers, Nintendo DS contraptions, cellphones, digital cameras...all in the hands of my ten-year old students!

I was also struck how - when I was not much older than they are - reading science fiction, that the fiction included handheld devices that one could speak into and see the other person!  How impossible that seemed back in the day of the rotary-dial telephone.  Web-camming is a new verb and now we can Skype with students around the world in realtime!

When I was my students' age the word computers evoked an image of the roomful of computer framesNASA had to use in order to guide the various space  missions. 
(And yes, I watched the televising of those first steps on the moon on a black&white TV!)  

These days many of my students own personal computers that fit into their jeans pocket!

And with them, my students have access to an incredible amount of information.. and imagination.  
Right in their hands!
They  can see the moon landing 
the moon's surface and the astronauts' living conditions.  
They can delve into the archived material at NASA 
or enroll in the Kids Club.  

 They can watch space shuttles take off!

In other words whatever interests they have can be pursued easily and incredibly quickly. Whatever we want to learn about in our classrooms is made possible with many technological advances made since I was in Grade five!

ANYTHING SEEMS POSSIBLE and it is all in their hands.  

Well... in some schools.
I cannot fathom the lack of foresight of some decision-makers across North America that have banned the use of these devices in our classrooms.  (Let alone the whole Internet access debate in general!)

I get the issues around inappropriate texting, taping/photographing teachers and students and so on. Cyberbullying is very real and very hurtful; that's not going to be turned around if the devices are banned.

However... if these devices were up on the desks being USED in purposeful ways; if the kids were BUSY learning and teaching others with these devices, most wouldn't be bored or disinterested or unmotivated or motivated to do something off-topic or unkind.

Most children would respond to the opportunities for collaborative, connecting, powerful learning opportunities afforded by bringing these devices into the classroom.

There has been a groundswell of reaction and much debate around technology and whether or not we should be encouraging it in the form of allowing cellphones and such in our schools. As so many innovative educators point out we need to embrace and encourage the sharing of resources and that includes the students' 'toys'!

With so many apps that have educational purposes being collected (check here)- and made available via the Internet, many reviewed by knowledgeable people such as Richard Byrne there is no excuse for not being aware of what could enhance and extend your curriculum.  

That is... IF you can tell your students that they are welcome to bring those presents to school everyday!

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