Adlt 641-1: The Medium is always changing…

Teachers are certainly accustomed to change. Without fail, teacher in-service week is an opportunity for administrators to unveil a new plan to support their goals and aspirations for the academic year. As an educator, I am well aware of the myriad of ideas that ride the bandwagon through the halls of public education.  Well-seasoned teachers often meet each aim, intended to define the year, with skepticism. As one who has seen the wagon come and go for over twenty years, there is one wagon that I would welcome back with a hearty, “Huzzah!”

In Gardner Campbell’s article, ” A Personal Cyberinfrastructure,”  he suggests that sometimes progress means looping back to earlier ideas in order to explore ideas that were either underexplored or unrecognized for their importance.  To loop back  to find that bandwagon that extracts a “Huzzah,” would mean looping back over twenty years ago to the first year I taught fifth grade.

While I would never classify myself as a “Luddite,” one would have thought that I had left the age of cave dwellers when I accepted my first teaching position in Virginia.  I moved from a small, private school in Philadelphia.  The community was tight-knit and caring, yet, traditional in every sense of the word. It was worlds apart from the public classroom I would encounter in 1991 the first magnet school in Virginia, which would later become a Blue Ribbon School of National Excellence.  Technology abounds throughout the building, classrooms were wired for internet, and the faculty communicated via email! How incredible was this experience in 1991? Classes were small, content was innovative and critical thinking was a central component of each lesson. Standardized testing was virtually unheard of as learning was exploratory in nature.  Assessments asked students to show what they learned in a meaningful and engaging manner rather than through formative assessments. Student input regarding topics to study was solicited with regularity. Innovative thinking and creative teaching was held in high esteem rather than taking a backseat to standards created by bureaucrats. While it was clear that I was navigating through uncharted waters, what I was really doing, was watching 21st Century Literacy Skills in action long before Y2K was even a colloquialism!

The image above, displayed in the back of an old scrapbook, was created by a student from that first class. The photos and writing, given to me on the last day of the school year, show evidence of the powers of observation revealed through transformation and humor. She writes, “Then there is her work or serious side.  I remeber (sic) when she afraid (sic) to go near a computer.  But at the endshe (sic) is typing away.  Work Work Type Type.

Students educated in an environment rich in exploratory learning, supported by authentic technological experiences, actively processes that there are many mediums through which to show evidence of learning. As a veteran teacher, to lead by example means sharing with the adult learners in my life. How I use technology for organization, research, and communication extends to include social media. Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads, is the medium through which I communicated ideas during the last five years.  Blogging now adds a vibrant dimension to the way in which I interact with others.

I am as excited about this new adventure as I was overly 20 years ago when I first encountered technology in the classroom.  The medium has certainly changed; however, the message is still as vibrant as ever!

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4 thoughts on “Adlt 641-1: The Medium is always changing…

  1. Very cool story! Takes me back to 1991 when I was teaching at the University of Nebraska and required all of my students to set up (free) college email accounts and submit their homework by email. Lots of grumbling that “we will never use this in real life!”

    🙂

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    1. Funny how kids never change. Two years ago I tried to engage my students in blogging rather than keeping a traditional journal. I thought that they would be thrilled to use the computer. They were not the least bit excited. I have used Goodreads for the last three years as a social book group and thought that they would prefer to use a digital site rather than the traditional “Reading Time Sheet.” A few students found it interesting. Periodically my former students send a message to me or comment about a book that I am reading, but not very often. So much for “The Young and the Digital!” (I just started reading this book by S. Craig Watkins) I would be interested to hear how high school students use blogging. I realize that 8th grade is one step closer to purgatory, which may account for their lack of interest!

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  2. Really enjoyed the post here. Referencing the Campbell piece and tying that into your own reflection and digging back through past experience and early encounters with technology in 1991 were fun to read. Having this experience gives you some unique insight for understanding the changes and experiences you are having now…”The medium has certainly changed; however, the message is still as vibrant as ever!” Refreshing perspective…look forward to how things continue to unfold for you…

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  3. I really enjoyed reading this and getting your perspective on things. The diversity of backgrounds in the program is one of my favorite things about it, and I admire your experience with teaching very much.
    My high school, which was new when I started in 1994-ish was also connected and it was a huge deal! It was in the news and everyone was fascinated with the local email system that was only available to teachers (what do they talk about?). I love hearing stories like yours because it shows how much things have changed in learning environments with real life examples.

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