Spaceship Earth

It’s been a while since I have blogged. (Well along time for me!)  My life has been that crazy lately, no time.  During this off time I took my kids on a trip.  We went to Walt Disney World! The one place every person on the planet should go at least once.  Growing up I loved EPCOT.  If you don’t know what EPCOT stands for here you go: “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” The main purpose of the place was to be a real community for people to live on Disney property (how cool, right?). It going to be a place to test ideas for community and city planning. Walt Disney died before this took place, so in Disney fashion it was made into a theme park. Most of my Disney memories as a child come from here. I loved all the futuristic computer ideas. In the 80s this place was hoping! Today, very run-down and the exhibits were no longer as grand.  The World Showcase was still amazing, it was the future world that was no longer future.

EPCOT - Spaceship Earth

Now when you think about EPCOT, I am sure the great big ball is what comes to mind. This ball is actually a ride. Now this ride has been updated over the years, because it had to be! The ride is “Spaceship Earth.” It goes through the history of inventions and technology. Starts with cavemen writing on walls and ends with the birth of personal computers in a garage in California (wonder who that could be?).  As you go through this you realize that every “stage” has one theme, communication. the scenes include Phoenicians and the common language, to the Greeks, Romans, Gutenberg, telegraphs, radio, television, and so on. All focus on means of communication. A majority of inventions that we think are the “greatest” are those that seem to make our world smaller. Inventions that put us in touch with someone a little bit farther away than the last invention.

As we went through Spaceship Earth, it never said “But the teachers were not comfortable with this, so it was never learned” or “everyone in the country was afraid of the dangers of this printing press.” No it talked about how this invention lead to the next. It gave examples of progressive thinking at its best. What if those complaints had happened? Would the inventors be allowed to think in a way that would have lead to the next invention or would we have stalled?

Too many times we hear excuses to why technology is not being used in the classroom. It is sick what our students are missing out on when this happens.  Do not assume they are getting it somewhere else. They need to be getting it from their teachers that they are will everyday.  They need to be taught how to communicate correctly using this new technology.  Remember I said the inventions through time made the world a smaller place.  When you were in elementary school could imagine talking to someone from a different state?  How about another country? Through blogs, twitter, and skype, we do this everyday. Our students need the same opportunities.  The past month my students have skyped with students in Nebraska and in Canada. Cannot even describe how that effected my students. Think about how excited they get when someone from another place reads their blogs and comments. This is important. They need the opportunity to converse with those from other places.  We need to teach them how small our world has become. We need to allow them to share their ideas beyond the four walls of a classroom.


More musings of IWB

Love when students teach me something. I have to be honest with you, right now I’m feeling like I’m treading water and the water is winning. Having a too much to do & too little time week. Not only are deadlines killing me but things just keep coming up right & left. But on a day like today when at any moment I could have had a break down, I enjoyed my students. Classes were fun and that kept me energized. Kept me laughing. The best part kept me thinking. I selfishly needed that time to “hang out” with the students as well as learning.

At one time we got way off subject and one of the students asked how I felt about the IWB being lowered (before yesterday the top of board was over 6 ft from the ground). I told them I was glad and asked why would I not be. They were telling me that other teachers said it was too low for people in back to see or they had to bend over. I told the kids that those reasons made sense but then said “but it has to be low because it is for you to use.” Before I could finish that sentence those silly kids erupted into cheers. No kidding. That was my “duh” moment. The kids want to use technology. They want to be in charge of their learning.

I have had many doubts over the value of these IWB (read post here and here) Finally I am seeing there are benefits to them. The kids need to use them for the purpose of interaction. It is NOT a $4000 projector. Yes I understand that money could have been spend on other technologies but it wasn’t. So now that technology needs to be used correctly. It needs to be interactive. It needs to be used by the kids. They must be the ones interacting!!

I’m not writing this to bash my coworkers. It has taken me months to figure out best practices for this technology and this is all new to them. I do worry because the professional development opportunities and tech integration support is not there. It’s not their fault. I am writing this just as a reminder what the role of not only IWB but all technology has in the classroom. It is there to support learning. It is there to cause students to think as well as create.


***To those leaving comments (which is always welcome): If there is no “anti-spam” word when leaving a comment, click “change users” next to the comment box. I will show the :anti-spam” word! I do not understand why it does this.***

How Do We Break The Cycle?

How do we break the “worksheet” cycle? I was talking with a few coworkers yesterday and we realize that our students this year want worksheets.  They only do the work if in worksheet form (those few that do it). The parents want worksheets and want them to do it for homework. It is like they thrive on them.  What on earth have they been doing all these years to think that worksheets are the only reliable way of learning? Why is this class my largest percentage of failures all because they have never been made to think beyond a worksheet? I am not getting this? Mostly I am sad by this.  How do we break this cycle? I will  not concede to worksheets and homework. I will not! My students will think and learn!. But how do I break the cycle?


***To those leaving comments (which is always welcome): If there is no “anti-spam” word when leaving a comment, click “change users” next to the comment box. I will show the :anti-spam” word! I do not understand why it does this.***