Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Thinking Beyond Word

I don't automatically think in terms of technology. It's not yet woven into my DNA. I can go days without looking at my cellphone, much to the chagrin of my friends and family who despite knowing of my casual attitude towards cellphones will text away in vain before giving up and actually calling my house phone (yes, I have a land-line).

My ambivalent attitude towards my less-than-smart-phone may make it seem as if I am totally lost in the digital frontier but I not a total Luddite. I'm just not sure how I'd categorize myself in terms of my digital literacy. I would have thought that I was as much an immigrant as any adult my age but when Dr. Bogad was going over the characteristics of the digital immigrant accent described in Marc Prensky's essay "Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants," I found that many of those descriptors weren't applicable to me. I have a Facebook account, I own a Kindle, I am constantly uploading pictures to the internet, I even started my own blog (The Adventures of Worm) when my son was born. I don't know if it's because I'm married to a man who believes in the importance of using technology in the classroom or just being around 15 year-olds all day but I haven't printed out an email in years and have adopted much of the verbiage of the digital age (although admittedly I have participated in grammatical debates regarding the appropriate usage of the word "text" in the past tense). Still when I compare myself to my husband or my students, I feel very much like an immigrant.

When designing lessons that utilize technology, I tend to think small. We have a mobile laptop cart with wi-fi capability available to us in the School Within in a School program (SWS), a privilege bestowed on no one else in the whole school (despite the fact that a good number of kids have phones with 3/4G internet capabilities, wi-fi access is tightly controlled by our OIT department who seem to think Al Qaeda is trying to infiltrate the Attleboro High School server) . Yet despite this incredible resource what we most often used the laptops for was word processing, typing essays. All that technology available and all I could think of was using Word? To be fair, my students are proficient in using Google Docs and know how to properly upload documents and files. The basics are important but I know that it's not enough.

Ideally I'd like to create a more authentic, engaging experience for my students. This is a particularly urgent goal given that the students in the SWS have been identified as the 9th graders most likely to drop-out of school I know that technology is a key component to achieving this goal and thus I am hoping that this class gives me kick in the pants I need to overcome my digital shortsightedness.

I will end this blog with one of the first videos I ever uploaded to Blogger. It is of my son hopping around in his jumpy to House of Pain's "Jump Around":

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