Friday, November 10, 2006

Plug your students in!

Think about it for just a minute or so. On most Mondays students leave school go home and grab their cell phones, blackberries, palms, computers, etc. and plug-in to a world of opportunity via the Internet. They currently have websites, wikis, blogs, facebooks, my spaces, and they communicate with the world at home. Then on Tuesday they come back to school to listen to their teachers lecture in an environment of yesteryear. Boring? Ask your students!

I know that many teachers are utilizing technology in their classrooms, but are students using technology in the classroom? Computer Classes Don’t Count! I’m talking about English, History, Math, and Science. In my classroom, I use technology but the students seldom ever have a chance to work with it themselves. Of course, I have currently created a blog and a wiki for my classes and we use it when we can. However, we have to schedule the media lab in order to plug in and unfortunately we can’t always get in the lab as needed.

Are other teachers going to the computer lab or asking students to blog at home or from school? Unfortunately, in a lot of cases the answer is no. Why? It’s the same old thing, excuses… “I can’t get the lab when I want it, all of my students don’t have access to the Internet from home and it wouldn’t be fair if I ask them to blog, or I just don’t have time to do stuff like that.” Of course, many of the teachers making these excuses are still using chalk and a chalkboard and think that they’re really teaching.

Wait just a minute before you start sending me ugly comments and I will clarify. Students learn form the chalkboard or white board and we should keep using them. They are educational tools and good ones. In fact, the chalkboard is simply the LCD projector, blog, and wiki of yesteryear. I use my whiteboard and my dry erase markers as much as I do my LCD projector or the interwrite pad. All of these tools are tools of the trade and we should keep using them. However, we should also stop making excuses and get onboard the technology bus for the sake of our students.

How much time should we take to blog and wiki? Who knows! Each individual teacher is in a unique situation and needs to do whatever is best for his or her students and their learning. Anyway, remember the old Glade plug-in commercial, “Plug it in! Plug it in.” I say we plug them in, plug them in! Why? Well, we have to think about NCLB and our teaching practices and then do what is best for our students.

Should you be blogging and using wikis with your classes? Absolutely! You have to plug the students in if you expect them to excel in school and reach their full potential as learners. Moreover, this could help with school discipline and the dropout rate. Remember the old adage, "a mind is a terrible thing to waste."

If you're not plugging in your students you should get started ASAP. How? Check out some of the links below or visit your local bookstore and grab Will Richardson’s New Book or some one else’s book should one exist…Good luck!

Weblogg-ed Blogs in Ed ABPC wiki

K12onlineconfrence Support Blogging


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