Image by jimray via FlickrMrs. Cassidy's first grade class has a lot going on. They know how to blog, make videos, use the internet and class webpage, make Wikis, Skype, and comment on blogs. They know how to stay safe on the internet and maintain a "nice" atmosphere through use of positive comments. They even worked together with Mrs. Cassidy to create a YouTube video showcasing all that they have learned in her classroom about technology.
Those kids are professionals at the age of six. Looking back on my own experiences with technology at that age, I can say that I'm fairly certain I didn't even know what the internet was. My family had a Gateway computer, but the most I knew how to do with it was to put CDs in and play Mavis Beacon to learn how to type. And I knew how to play Minesweeper and Solitaire. That's about it.
These days, as Mrs. Cassidy pointed out, technology is so rampant among our youth that trying to teach them without the use of computers and the like is like cutting off one of their limbs. They feel lost. Quite frankly, I can't blame them. You can't turn on the TV without seeing a commercial for some new touchscreen phone or another that does some new awesome thing like facetalk or high speed internet music downloads. It's insane.
I'm glad Mrs. Cassidy is aware of the need for technology in the classroom. She may only teach six-year-olds, but those kids are already on their ways toward being technologically literate, and in some cases, have far exceeded adults in that capacity and journey.
As I don't plan on teaching elementary school, I had to think for a minute about how I would implement some of Mrs. Cassidy's methods in my future classroom. I've been thinking extensively about blogging for a while now, especially after doing the post on Mr. McClung's blog, and I think it would be a worthwhile endeavor to have a class blog that acts as a portfolio for my students. I'm going to teach English, so there will be no shortage of material to post. It would also be a great way to get them involved with dealing with outside criticism and also would allow them to branch out and explore writing media.
I don't have the details planned out yet, since I'm still a few years away from actually implementing this blog idea, but I'm definitely going to keep it in my thoughts. It would be a good experience for the students, which is what learning is all about, I think. I don't want to remain firmly in the old style of teaching. I want to push the envelope a little, maybe a lot, and contribute to the teaching revolution. If I can emulate Mrs. Cassidy in this respect, I would be very happy. She seems to have found a niche and has learned how to maneuver the technological boundaries quite well.
The fact that Mrs. Cassidy has the support of her district technology man is awesome. It's always nice to have someone in your corner that can help negotiate around the speed bumps. And let's face it: there are some horrible speed bumps where technology and the classroom are concerned. Budget, time, old attitudes, and red tape litter the road and often that's enough to stymy anyone.
However, if we continue to work together through our teaching networks, I hope that we will be able to enact change from the inside that will lead to a less hassling journey. Realistically, I think it can happen. Just look at how far Twitter has come in a few years. Look at Facebook. Look at Blogger. Look at any social networking site, and you'll see that people are joining together for all sorts of things, education included. And when enough people start raising a fuss, the big dogs are going to have to listen. It's only a matter of time.