12 March 2011


   I am a good example of what happens when you give a mouse a cookie. The mouse, of course, wants a glass of milk. The teacher, however, wants more tech. Once the teacher sees that technology informs her teaching, and provides a new set of choices and strategies, she becomes greedy. English teachers sweat this stuff all the time: we hear how irrelevant we are from our students, from their parents, and yes, sometimes, even from teachers in other disciplines. I stopped arguing for Shakespeare long ago; he speaks for himself. So technology tools seem to offer this magic cookie & milk snack that will link literature with utility immediately. No one will ever doubt my subject again. Insert smirk here.
   What's actually happened to me in the four years since I started my first class blog? Lots of learning--both for me and my kids. Fun: I admit that my MacBook is my favorite toy. I write more now--there are three personal blogs, two class blogs, a messy but fabulous wiki, and 10 student blogs that inspire me every day. I have a rep now at school, too, which exposes a strange juxtaposition: I 'm the teacher who reads EVERYTHING she sees (old school?) as well as the teacher who always has a suggestion for those on the journey to tech nirvana.
   But what has really happened for me with that cookie & milk?
   If someone took my treat away tomorrow, I would still teach differently than I did when I walked into my school five years ago and they handed me a MacBook. That's right, people, I have reached the promised land, the magical Willy Wonka factory of teaching. It is not about the tools, it is about the shift in my thinking. Without my iTouches or tech lab, without the wikiwork or the blogs, I would still be asking the essential questions that my students need to be happy, successful people in 2011. They would be writing in groups. We would be still reading together, books WE chose. They would decide the questions that needed answering, not necessarily me. They would be making text visible, they would be networking throughout our building and our community. They would be building flat classrooms.  I can't teach to the 20th century anymore. I can't learn 20th century anymore. The killer app is a good teacher (with a cookie and a glass of milk).


Healigan said...

stop writing. there are not more metaphors to mix.

Vanilla Chunk said...

Having a projector linked to my laptop (as opposed to one of those transparency projection things) has changed my teaching in so many ways.
-If I want to show a graphic or chart to the class, I save to my desktop or thumb drive and boom, there it is. I can pay attention to how I can exploit the resource, rather than thinking, oh, gosh, it's a little blurry, can they read it? yadda yadda.
-In some classes, half the students will (deliberately or not) leave their books at home. They used to say, aw, I don't have a book, sorry, just give me the 'F', okay, Fatso? and then they'd look for ways to stop the class. They had that free space.
No book, gangsta? No sweat: IT'S ON THE WALL, IN FOOT-HIGH LETTERS...so, you CAN do the work and stop looking at my neck.
-it turns my wall into a freakin' movie theater. When Juliet dies, they see her stop breathing now. It cuts down on the laughing in back.

I won't even mention how often our internet goes down and I have to teach off of my iPhone. Last week, I had a worksheet from home; I had saved it to Simplenote. Well, of course we can't open Simplenote at school- it could be porn!!! or al Qaeda!- so I email it to myself. Nope, can't do that either, could be plans for a prison break! So I sent it to my laptop as a text message and I had it.

Healigan said...

Haha. I have some kids who have smartphones, so I made a poster of phone apps that they could use to help with school. They are thunderstruck that I would even think of such an evil thing. Then I take a pic of some great notes they made on the board and they were incredulous. I thought THEY were the "digital natives"