Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Confidence and the Future

Fun, exciting, colorful, engaging--this is summit of “Lesson Plan Peak.” The ideal lesson is not only an activity that carries new skills and concepts for the students, but also one that helps create a love for learning. Here’s what comes to my mind: finger-painting. Our kindergarten teacher prepared us, handing out special paper and aprons. Pots of paint waited on the broad tables. At last we could dive in. I remember the cool paint, the sunny room, and the lines my fingers made on the paper, streaks of dark and light.
As a computer teacher, I’d like my own lessons to be a memorable as finger painting, but how can mere machines compete with pots of paint? The first time I taught 4th grade how to insert a picture into a document I was stunned. An excited buzz filled the air and they abandoned chairs to see their classmates’ work. At the end of the period, a few students forgot their pencil cases, but no one forgot the color printout.
I don’t teach how to insert a picture into a paragraph for its own sake. I know that by the time my 4th graders students leave college, the process of manipulating text and images will have changed. I hope that the skills of giving commands to a machine in order to express an idea in words and color will empower them. According to Ed Barlow, by 2010, technical information will double every 72 hours! Whether this is precisely true I can't say, but I know that the information technology my 4th graders will be using in 2021 will bear little resemblance to the 10-year-old computers we use today. We must employ technology in education today, so they will have the confidence to explore, creating things that I can’t yet imagine.

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