Thursday, October 04, 2007

Taking Flight and Learning New Lessons

No time to read or blog has made me feel disconnected. The beginning of the school year has been exceptionally busy but much of it has been good stuff. The connection with Snow Lake is really moving us into some new territory. From an administrative perspective it is really exciting to read the planing going on between our teachers and Clarence on the Moodle site. It is like watching a butterfly take flight! We have worked for over a year on becoming technology literate and this year the staff is ready to fly and the students are reaping the benefits.
Today I caught up on a little reading and two blogs caught my eye. One on LeaderTalk and one I can't find now but both of them talked about the issues of Internet safety. There are lots of great resources out there and I know that almost everybody who is involved in Web2.0 with students addresses this issue. Although we used blogs some last year this year we are involved in a a year long collaboration and we are using all kinds of tools including chat, voicethreads and blogs in our work with Snow Lake.
As the year began we spent a fair amount of time on internet safety. The students did research, they discussed, they prepared brochures, and they made presentations to the parents and to all of the K-8 classrooms. We were impressed with the work they did and how well they presented the material. BUT then we discovered something, it takes practice! Our students knew what the rules were and what to say but they did not translate the head knowledge into practice. With their first few blog posts and their voicethreads we began seeing risky practice. They just had not taken the lessons to heart . We then had them read all of the blog posts and rate them for risk factors. It was a most interesting exercise and many of the students had to edit their blogs. The lesson that I took away from this was how important it is that they have the opportunity to work in the digital world and use their knowledge. It would have been easy to pat ourselves on the back and say "Wow the kids gave great talks on Internet Safety" . But what good is talk without a personal context and practice. At the Junior High level the concrete reasoning skills are just beginning to develop and so we will spend the whole year learning about digital citizenship as they continue their work. It is really pretty exciting to consider how important these experiences are to their formation and their future.They just do not get it until they really use it in a setting where someone is helping them to evaluate along the way. I for one feel strongly this is our responsibility. Yes, the parents are the primary educators and they need to be involved in guiding their children, continuing the lesson at home, but connectivity is the portal for learning and so we have to teach them how to enter that world- it is an essential learning space.
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Janice Stearns said...

Students may learn about something and be able to express that learning, but often, they need the practice to internalize that learning. How great that your students are getting that practice that can then be used as teachable moments. These skills are so important, especially when they are at home and often do not have the feedback from educators.
It also makes you think about some of the other subjects they are learning. How can we make the learning that is essential more sticky?

Barbara said...

Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation. Good point about the other subjects we are teaching. information for information's sake is not very valuable.