Last semester, I was observing in a first grade classroom. Now, I should mention that it was my first semester of grad school, and I’d just been introduced to the SmartBoard during my first grad class. (I’m from the age when being able to use powerpoint was impressive. ) The SmartBoard was well-utilized in the observation classroom. The students used it to make their lunch choices and to play educational games. The teacher used it for attendance and to teach lessons. Well, one day I was trying to help a student find a webpage so he could do some activities. After a few minutes of watching me struggle, the student looked to me and said, “You could just use the computer to do that.” It’s a scary moment when a first grader is more knowledgeable about technology than you are. I started to feel a bit like my grandma when she first learned to open attachments on e-mails. Now my grandma’s on facebook, so I guess there’s hope for me, too!
It’s not really that I have a great deal of difficulty understanding technology. I am the one my family usually goes to for questions about anything related to it. I’m pretty sure my sister has no idea how to use iTunes because I’ve loaded every iPod she’s ever had. That being said, I really only upgrade when absolutely necessary. I’d still have my old flip phone if I had the choice. I’ve discovered, though, that technology is convenient. Now that I have a smart phone, I accomplish some things a lot faster. If I decide I want to see a movie, I can go to movies.com and look up movies playing near me at a specific theater, or I can look up a movie and find the nearest theater. No need to go to call the individual theaters or go to the store and buy a newspaper. I’ve also discovered a new addiction: when I hear pop culture references I don’t understand, I can look them up right away. It’s cool to be able to have information at your fingertips.
One of the things I’ve realized from looking back at my own education is that things are often most fascinating when they’re new and exciting. The idea of being able to use technology to reach students is kind of intriguing. When we were looking at the digital post-it slideshow in class, I thought it would be great to incorporate it on a number of levels. The one that struck me was the review of what students had learned or still needed to learn. I thought it was a great way for individuals to show what they had learned, and it served as a review for classmates. I thought back, too, on those awkward moments in class when you were too afraid to share your thoughts or questions. Technology provides a certain kind of anonymity that I think could be useful in these situations.
Overall, I think I’m excited to learn about ways to bring technology into the classroom that will help students to become excited about learning and maybe find ways around some of their fears.