I realized this weekend that I am always using computer with my 8th grade classes, but had never used them with my 6th. W I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why it had happened. I just knew that it was time to change it. I created a wiki for the class to help them become part of the 2.0 world of learning. When I introduced it last week, it was first time that I had used laptops with them. It made me wonder if there are other teachers who have fallen into the delusion that if we are doing it in one class that is enough, of thinking that perhaps the computer is a tool for the older students. It may feel more comfortable for us with older students, because they too are learning the 2.0 world. The younger the age, the more fluent in a language we are just learning to speak.
As it turned out, the 6th grade jumped into working on their new wiki with their typical and age-appropriate enthusiasm, eager to try and more than willing to laugh at their mistakes. They didn’t assume they should know and were willing to ask questions and learn from each other.They were completely captivated by the wiki, http://fergusonciv6.wikispaces.com/ I can’t thank the members of my PLN enough for clicking on the link from Twitter. The class was amazed to watch the dots appear on the ClustrMap and the Revolver Map. Great geography lessons just by visiting their Home page! They loved learning that people around the world were visiting their site. It helped me convince them that this was a special learning tool, a place for them to learn to develop a digital footprint. They loved the comments left on Twitter for them. My goal is to teach them to express themselves online with confidence and to learn to use a variety of new tools to do that.
I had a couple of really capable girls who quickly became student-teachers. But at the other end of the spectrum were the girls didn’t know how to attach a file to an email. A good reminder to me that we have to constantly verify our assumptions about what they know and don’t know and about who they are in a digital world. Many of them are digital natives in name only! And I had almost left them behind, assuming that they knew it or were getting it somewhere else. In fact, it is my job everyday to make them the most capable 21st century learners that I can, meeting each student where she is and leading her further along the road to collaboration and growth.