From a University of Michigan Tech Director’s post to the LinkedIn group,
Hi everyone, I’ve been really thinking hard about this issue and was hoping you could help–How can technology aid in student achievement? Or also, What is technology’s role in education? Thanks.
It’s the creative power of technology, from the pencil to the Kinect, that matters–and our student/scholars need to be guided and encouraged to take control of the technology in their own lives and use it to express their voices. Michel Guilin (sp.?) I believe is where I first read this idea, which I paraphrase: For the most part, in most public schools in the US, for black and brown kids the computer tells them what to do, only white kids get to tell the computer what to do. Sadly, my own observations at the primary level and in general for “low-performing” schools is that drill and kill predominates. Often it’s pretty good as training material, and may result in improvements in test scores in isolated areas. But it’s still using the model that the computer is the smart one, and you have to try to beat it at a video game, rather than empowering children to create their own games and express themselves as they choose.
I am 1 week from completing a ten-week long term-substitute job (maternity leave) teaching second grade bilingual, Spanish/English, entirely Mexican-origin families, overwhelmingly working class. I had to follow a script for about 80% of the day, but the two bits of creativity we were allowed were a writing program and an ELD block. So I implemented a unit around using string games to develop dexterity for keyboarding, and we had a lot of fun. I photographed and video taped them teaching and showing their figures, and we wrote about them, created an altar for our local gallery’s Day of the Dead exhibit, and mounted figures into a book for the returning teacher. During the coming final week, we will use Photostory 3 to create digital stories from our writing and the still images.
With support from a MacArthur grant for digital writing though the “Digital Is” Initiative and the “Maker Faire/Make Magazine” Collaboration of the National Writing Project, I will be able to return to that classroom over the second semester of the 2010-2011 school year, and hope to be able to arrange a field trip to the Maker Faire in San Mateo with at least some of those students.
I’ve seen remarkable growth among these children with this project-based, student-centered approach. We have used “We Are All Teachers In This Classroom” as our motto, and I’m hoping that the returning teacher might be open to implementing some of the “Roots of Empathy” program, so that the children can extend the skills they are developing as not only authors but videographers and multimedia producers into even deeper personal exploration as they mature.