I have, once again, been inspired by the students at Condit. Under the expert tutelage of our campus technologists our 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders have begun work using Kidblog. There are so many academic skills that can be folded into blogging, and kids can never start early enough on learning digital citizenship. I had a bit of time this evening to throw up a few comments on the student blogs and in doing so it reminded me how easy it is to get distracted from my own blogging. I found, several years ago, that the best fit for me was to use twitter was for sharing/learning and blogging was for reflecting or practicing a bit of metacognition. The craziness of campus life doesn’t always allow time to reflect, reading student blogs tonight reminded me how important it is for me to commit to the process.
Schools have gotten creative in an effort to deal with budget cuts over the past few years. Sadly, some program were put on the chopping block, and every time I walk by the computer lab I’m reminded at how lucky we are to have that as an ancillary rotation. Correction, how lucky our students are to have that as an ancillary rotation. First and second graders working on Microsoft office, Photobooth, Kerpoof, AND discussing how to be a good friend? Check. Third, fourth, and fifth graders posting book reviews in a protected social space (Edmodo)? Check. Virtual field trips? Rodeo sequencing? Check, check. There are so many ways we need to prepare our kids and tech literacy is one that I know we are attending to here at Condit.
A few stories that fell into my twitter feed this weekend had me thinking about what our students need to know as they move through school. I don’t think the specific content that a student needs in order to be successful at the next level is really the topic of my concern, the state and district have clear outlines on what needs to be mastered. My question is one of skill. What will our students be asked to do with specific content in the next grade, or at the next building they attend, and are we providing them the experiences they need? How will they be asked to research? How will they be required to utilize technology? How self sufficient will they need to be? Perhaps the biggest question swimming around my head right now is how do we provide them opportunities to master these types of skills while, at the same time, helping them master the specific content? I wish I had a really great answer to this question, but I don’t. Whenever I sit down to think about this I keep coming back the idea of exclusionary practices and how dangerous that can be. I have worked with educators of all shapes and sizes and it seems like the best ones never neglected skills for sake of content. The converse would be true as well, where a teacher gets so wrapped up in developing skills that they fail to help students master the information they need. I suppose it comes down to a moderation and experience; we need to be mindful of all the competencies our students need in order to be successful while at the same time drawing on our collective experience to ensure those skills are being leveraged to help students master the content they need to be successful at their next level. If we don’t attend to both of these aspects, have we really gotten them ready for what’s next?