Technology? Game on!

by Mr. Sheehy

So much of this technology stuff seems like a game to me, and I’m beginning to try to formulate some theory about it in those terms – that a key to learning technology might be to think of it as a game – some fun where you figure something out along the way. Ellen has this “computer” that she uses – it’s a book with a touch pen, and she touches the green circle and then when she touches things on the page, different characters say things or try to get her to play games. She’d gotten pretty good with it, knowing how to turn the volume down (why is the default sound on all children’s toys just below “rock concert”?), and finding the letters the ‘computer’ challenges her to find right after the computer has quit waiting for her to find it (ridiculous machine gives less wait time after questions than a nervous first year teacher). But she knows it because it’s a game, and it is a game because she doesn’t care about the part of the toy-box that brags how many skills the toy will teach her.

And neither do I care how many standards each technological tool promises to help me achieve. So no one seems to know for sure how Twitter could help educational achievements aside from a few brave examples (thanks to Alan Levine for the link), so what? It’s cool! (See Wikipedia for help if you don’t know what it is.) Once you’ve established a contact or three and begin to know what they’re up to, it’s addictive. I’ve discovered more about what my college roommate and mother are up to during the day than I have over the course of the year. What’s bad about that? And I’m kind of excited about setting up an account for school where I see kids Twittering all about their days. There’s something cool knowing that all those students out there doing all that various activity are “mine.” And Twitter allows me to see them – sort of.

That kid part is fun, and I have found things like that are exceedingly helpful when I look at the world of relationship-building with students. Some colleagues of mine shared at an inservice some great techniques they’d heard for communicating with students. They were ideas about spurring open conversation, where students can drop a note or write on a calendar if they want to slip some comment to the teacher or an adult. The ideas were good, but I found myself thinking, “Why not just get an IM account and tell them the address?” That’s what I’ve done – along with the Facebook and MySpace pages. And it works. I’ve had kids confess over IM that they have no idea what’s going on in class; I’ve been attacked on a professional day when I unwittingly signed in to my IM account (the screen lit up with cries for help – my sub was making them read! The HORROR!); and I’ve discussed with one student the literary value of To Kill a Mockingbird, silently, while other students read. Here’s an excerpt:

Punch Drunk Love says:

i dont get why the author put it into the depression when he didn’t even add the “hard times” for the people it was more about prejudice than a shortage of money or food

Mr. Sheehy says:

good point.

Mr. Sheehy says:

I wonder if part of it was more that she wanted the prejudice of the times

Mr. Sheehy says:

and the Depression happened to be going on when that was high in the way she wanted it?

Mr. Sheehy says:

i’m not sure that’s a full answer though

Punch Drunk Love says:

thats what i was thinking too

Mr. Sheehy says:

she just kind of threw it in there – like with the cunninghams and the ewells – she could have made them poor any time in history – didn’t have to be the depression

Mr. Sheehy says:

but to be honest I think Lee’s weakness is throwing in stuff that really shouldn’t be in there – stuff she doesnt follow up that thoroughly

Punch Drunk Love says:

yes! i totally agree thats why i had a hard time reading it. the book was so random

Punch Drunk Love says:

i hated how Lee skipped around every chapter

Mr. Sheehy says:

like the whole mockingbird thing. It’s an image that is good and she follows it up with tom and Boo as metaphorical mockingbirds, but the conversation with atticus and the kids when he told them about it – I thought it was tottaly awkward and forced

Punch Drunk Love says:

yeah and why did there aunt stay and idk i have a lot of “why” questions when ending the book

 

Punch Drunk Love says:

their*

Mr. Sheehy says:

good point – lots of characters seem to have been dropped – like she created so many in makig the place seem real and she didn’t know what to do with them

Punch Drunk Love says:

exactly

I did not foresee this when I signed up for an IM account. I thought, “Hey, they’re all on there and I can’t seem to keep them off unless I stand directly over their shoulders, so maybe I should simply sign on too!” And then the reasons became apparent. Essentially, I’m convinced, I am trying to teach them – I have goals for them that look quite a bit like the standards mandated by the state – and since I keep that purpose clearly in mind, I am able to play alongside them every day and guide them towards where I’d like them to go. I don’t have to have the justification mapped out before I start, just like Ellen doesn’t need to know the alphabet before playing with her computer. If that were the case, we’d both freeze up and do nothing, and we’ve got too much energy for that.

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Original image: ‘Twitter shirt‘ by: Niall Kennedy

Listening to: Alison Krauss, A Hundred Miles or More

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