This school year has had its ups and downs. One of the ‘Ups’ were my students’ State Reports. We used Google Maps to accomplish the same task that use to take 10 type written pages. I still maintain, no one wants to read a 10 page report – let alone 47? Yeah, much happier with the Maps idea. As we went through it, I saw ways to improve; and will implement those changes next year.
Then there were the ‘Downs’. Yeah, some of those made me want to pound my head against a brick wall. My ‘Road To the Revolution’ project. I thought I was soooo brilliant. Not so much! I will attempt it again next year, but will make several changes. Then, there are the downers that I have little to no control over. One that popped up throughout the year, were the ones where teachers and/admin wanted to block/ban sites. (This is where my head hangs low, before I hit a wall) Banning/blocking is NOT the answer. As with anything, education is. We not only need to educate our students, but we need to educate the teachers.
The answer is to teach our teachers HOW to work with technology. We need to show teachers and students what it means to integrate technology. When students are doing research; provide a list of acceptable sites,create a custom search engine via Google, and teach students HOW to search. Typing ‘What is the state flower of Maine?’ is not an efficient search. These are tools that students, and teachers, need. It is a district’s responsibility to provide the training so that quality instruction can occur. Far too often, a district thinks that giving a classroom a set of computers will be the answer, but it’s not. What ends up happening – more often than I care to think about – is that the computer becomes a babysitter, time filler, or dust collector.
I understand the need to block certain sites – like the super bad ones (remember: I’m coming from an elementary perspective). But in general, I am an advocate of keeping the sites open. Yes, students will push the limits. Yes, they will try to find inappropriate pictures, videos, whatever. But it’s our job to guide them along the path.
Teachers need to work WITH technology. We need to use the inappropriate searches as teachable moments. We need to monitor, walk around, give students the tools to be successful. Will we catch everything? No. But my teachers didn’t catch all the notes and things I tried to get away with, and I came out fine – mostly.