Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Beginning My Journey into the Wonderful World of Blogging

Welcome to my first foray into the world of blogging. As the description says I am a middle level teacher in the arena of technology. This blog is both a learning experience as well as an opportunity for me to share and gain insights into the tools my students are ad will be using. So feel free to share your thoughts and ideas as we journey through the world of teaching at the middle level.

On another blog I read about whether or not we should be focusing on teaching kids 21st Century skills (technology, blogging, podcasting, etc.) or more generic skills that allow students to effectively communicate and function in the 21st Century. I tend to believe the latter of these two. Kids today come to use with a basic skill set on how to sign on and get to where they want to go and do. However, I am noticing more and more that kids are lacking a basic understanding of not only how the technology works but how to utilize it to effectively communicate and problem solve. To them (if some of them are reading) it may not seem important to know how a computer works, how to save files with unique names, how to touch type, how to do an efficient search, etc. I know when I ask my students this question I am told "I already know how to use PowerPoint" or "I know how to get where I want to go" or my personal favorite "why would I need to know that" (same excuse I used in geometry class). I get the same excuses every year yet when we actually get into the programs and tools we use in my classes the frustrations of the students are very abundant. As we work through the class I find that some are even amazed by some of the things I show them, for example that you can change the interface language on Google. The biggest frustration that I see with my students is that they struggle with wanting to do something but not wanting to look stupid by asking the teacher for help. To help alleviate this stress I encourage students to use the help features associated with the program they are using, however this causes more stress because often time's students don't know how to use these tools.

The phrase "work smarter not harder" comes to mind in situations such as these. It is imperative that we as teachers, especially at the middle level, start teaching students how to use technology within the context of not only the content we teach but also how to use it. The excuse that teachers give me when I work with them on integration is that "students are already tech savvy". I would counter that with that students are tech comfy. They are not afraid to use technology because it is something they have been exposed to all their lives just as most of us have been exposed to the current technology of our times (TV, VCR, Telephone, Tape recorders, CD players, Cars, etc.) for most of our lives. Just as we had to learn how to use these technologies (thus allowing us to become comfortable with them) so too do students have to learn how to use current technologies.

So it is important that we as teachers not shy away from 21st century and beyond technologies and the skills required to use them but embrace them.