Monday, January 25, 2010

If Your Kids Are Awake, They Are Likely Online

A recent study performed by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that kids between the ages of 8 to 18 spend more than 7 1/2 hours a day using electronics. This is 7 1/2 hours outside of class, and includes devices such as smart phones, computers and iPods. With this kind of extra time, there really is no excuse for how my son's bedroom floor looks.

A sample statistic known as 'The Firios Family', confirms the new findings. My teenage boys are correctly classified by Apple Computer as digital kids. This new age of students are described as hypercommunicators, multitaskers, and goal oriented. Goal oriented? Well, 2 out of 3 ain't bad.

As a future math teacher, my biggest challenge is how to best teach a classroom of digital kids. One obstacle is my own love of pencil and paper. Especially pencils with an extra large eraser cap. Part of my enjoyment in math is the struggle of working a problem, over and over, wearing down the eraser cap until I become Master of The Rational Fractions. I know for many this sounds incredibly tedious and painful, but painful for me is a crossword puzzle. To each his own.

The second item in the Educational Technology Standards established for teachers, is the need to design and develop learning experiences that will incorporate digital tools and resources. I am pretty sure that my eraser caps do not qualify as a digital tool. My younger son does a great deal of his math homework online, using a website that allows for skills practice and review. While I have yet to see him submit his work via his iTouch, it is sure to happen sooner than later.

Maybe there will be a day when students send their homework to my iTouch...but first I would have to buy an iTouch...then read the manual for the iTouch...I already miss my eraser caps.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Flexibility and Adaptability

I hate change...of almost any kind. I would be much more content and stable if my skin, the weather and the cost of cheese would simply freeze at their present levels of being.

School started for me today with a new class on using technology in the classroom. Technology is change. I hate change. Why can't the students simply use the small, and may I add affordable, handheld chalk boards that were good enough for Laura Ingalls? Suffice it to say that my lack of technological skills leaves me unable to move pictures out of my own camera. Getting a picture off the tiny and easy to lose piece of plastic, and into a computer file that I will fail to ever locate again, requires my 16 year old son.

After 20 years of marriage, I made the bold move of announcing to my husband that I don't like change. Somehow, he already knew that. As I packed up my texts, notebooks and stack of binder paper, my husband reminded me to use my new Christmas present. It is a beautiful notebook with dividers and paper that surely must be more expensive than the reams of college ruled paper I find on sale for .25 each. I tried to create for him a visual of the amount of paper I use during a semester in school. "Two math classes this semester alone" I warned him. He assured me that he could afford plenty of replacement paper. I envision the diminishing chance of getting the new running shoes I need, once the speciality paper orders start arriving by UPS.

Instead of reminding him for the second time about my aversion to change, I accepted the challenge of a new note taking system. The first thing we did in class was pull out a piece of paper ($) to make a table tent with our name on it. I think I broke into a sweat. Then we reviewed the syllabus which listed our first assignment - create a blog. Me. A blogger? How many hours would that take my son, um I mean me, to figure out? I held myself from laughing out loud while trying to remember how much red wine we had at home.

The purpose of the first blog is to address one of the life and career skills that are discussed in the textbook. As I continue my mid-life-return to college, I am forced every day, and in seemingly every way, to change and adapt. To bend and to grow.

This may take a whole lotta red wine.