Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Toolbox

I would like to thank the many other educational bloggers out there, like Vicki Davis and Jennifer Wagner. These are only two of the many people who have helped me to build "my toolbox."

On the topic of irresponsible Internet use by elementary and especially middle school children. We must not be so afraid of it, any more than we will be afraid of children not completing their homework on time, or calling each other names. Of course it will happen from time to time. It happens in elementary schools, and it happens in middle schools. There are ways to right the wrongs in other behaviour situations, and we as teachers must be aware of the nuts and bolts of Web 2.0 to know wrongs can be made right on the Internet.

What needs to happen is that we have good policies in place, make kids aware of them, teach them the difference between right and wrong, teach them the value of making the right choice over the wrong choice, and offer them really interesting lessons. The more interesting the lesson I created this year, the more sustained effort I saw from all students. Including very defiant students. Students with Individual Behaviour Plans. It is also in how you "pitch" your ideas. If you are passionate about an idea, if you believe the idea, if you can communicate its power, then they will believe. Powerful ideas and really interesting lessons taught with passion are the three greatest ingredients that go into one classroom management plan.

Children want to collaborate. Many kids need to be taught how to collaborate. Learning this lesson is more important than any computer program, or any computer skill. Many will do it right if started with the right foundation - they think they are learning a computer program to do a task. What they are learning is how to create something bigger than themselves, by working with someone else. And, in my computer class, I can offer more choice of topics than can be offered in any other course. Here are some important collaborative web 2.0 tools. - an incredible collaborative drawing program. You don't have to collaborate to use kerpoof, but why wouldn't you?!? You can paint online, experiment with different classical styles of art. It comes with lesson plans with teachers. It is free! - collaborative presentation making. You can as a teacher sign up an account, and have students create art and narrate stories about their art online. It is free to make the first 3 voice threads. I love free! - like twitter, but angled towards providing a safe place for teachers and students to interact, ask questions, share projects, etc.

While we as "digital immigrants" see these projects as students learning computer skills, the big idea, the Learning Intention is developing a value system within our class and our society that instills in each child the desire to be socially responsible "digital natives."

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