Tristan was working on a piece of writing on one of our laptops and wanted to show me. I sat down with him and read his writing, a detailed piece about himself full of great descriptions and interesting facts. It sounded like the kind of description bloggers post to their blogs to introduce themselve to readers. During our writing conference I shared my reaction with him and asked if having a blog would be something he'd be interested in. He had lots of questions and was pretty excited about the possibility however, he wanted more information before committing to the idea (and I wasn't totally sure I was ready to "let go" of one of my classroom bloggers :) I gave him the option to check out some other student blogs during the next round of Daily 5 so that he could see what other kids in other schools are doing. After a few minutes, he was sold. I set up a KidBlogs account for him within my teacher account and together we posted his first piece.
Little did we know, there were many eyes watching and wondering what we were up to as we moved from laptop to classroom computer. A few students figured out what Tristan and I were doing and word spread through the room like wildfire. For the next few minutes all I heard was:
Can I go next? I wanna do that! Is that his own blog?!? Can I go next?! Can I go next?!!
As the kids went out for recess, I thought to myself - What have you gotten yourself into now? Setting up individual blogs takes a bit of work, as does moderating all of the posts and comments. But, if a little bit of work on my part will give my students new motivation to write, edit, revise, talk about words and spelling, and to reply to comments and questions about their writing, then I'm sold too. To see an 8 year old boy get excited about writing (of course while playing it very cool) and ask if he can do it at home on the weekend is pretty awesome.
As an educator, I believe that using technology in teaching is no longer an option, it is a necessity. The children in my classroom are "digital natives", meaning they have grown up surrounded by technology and will continue to be no matter what path their lives take. They are "programmed" differently than the adults around them and learn to use technology quickly and efficiently. However, I discovered this morning that using old technology is a different story....
This morning I found some books with cassette tapes in the library and brought them into the classroom for the kids to use during Daily 5. As the first group pulled out their books and the cassette tapes, a discussion ensued (which I assumed was about the book that was chosen) and then one of the members came to me (cassette in hand) and said, "We don't know what to do with this". I showed them how to put the tape in the stereo, and walked away. After about 5 seconds I heard one of them say, "It's not working. It didn't start. It just sounds like shhhhhhh" As I started to walk back toward the group (assuming that there was something wrong with the stereo) one of the kids said "Wait! Now it's going". They of course didn't realize that when you start a tape from the very beginning there is a slight delay as the tape spins to the right place. It doesn't start instantly like a CD or an iPod. That short pause threw them for a bit of a loop. Afterwards when I explained that you could flip the tape over and hear something different, I was met with blank stares. I was not speaking their language. I'm considering bringing in my old record player tomorrow :)