Doing Different Things

As noted from the responses to yesterday’s blog post, the concept of commenting on student blogs is generally well received by folks.  It provides that sort of feedback that the connected world of 2011+ promises.  There are cautions, of course, but there always have been cautions.  Think back to your own education.  I’m thinking of the various field trips that I went on during my elementary school experience.  We got the very best experience by taking trips and making those connections outside the classroom.

In my own experience, I recall a trip to the local bakery, to a dairy farm, to Niagara Falls, to the University of Waterloo, to the Stratford Festival, and to the Historic Museum in Goderich.  These were all unique experiences that extended the learning of the classroom and the fact that I can remember them so many years later is testament to the power of these experiences.  Having provided these sorts of things to my own classes, I can appreciate the care and planning that my teachers had put into each and every one to ensure success and safety.  If you want deep thoughts about out of classroom experiences, then you need to read ShannonInOttawa‘s thoughts about field trips.

One of my mentors (and Superintendent of Program at the time) and I would periodically sit down and chat about the place of technology in education.  Right up front, we agreed on one thing and that was that the word integration just wasn’t one that we would use to describe what we do.  By its nature, it conjures up the idea that technology somehow could be melded to look like something that you were doing already.  One of his phrases, and it made so much sense to me at the time and continues to do so is that the true promise of technology is that it goes far beyond “doing things differently” and takes us into the realm of “doing different things.”

How often do you hear the use of technology expressed in this manner? “Not only do we write, but we write using a word processor”.  “Not only do we research, we research with Google”.  Is that delivering on the promise?

In a day and age where physical field trips outside the educational institution can be a challenge, technology steps up to the plate.  Sure, there are opportunities to take virtual field trips but it goes further than that.  Techniques like blogging turn the tables and garners the experience of the outside world into the educational moment just like a trip to the bakery gets the experience of the baker.  Except – the opportunity exists for bakers from around the world to participate.

It’s this experience that shines when you participate in “comments4kids”.  However, as the title of this blog post shows, there’s more than just blogs where you can provide feedback to students and their hard work.

A couple that come immediately to mind are:

  • Custom YouTube Channels where students are creating digital stories and posting them;
  • Scratch Programming Projects where programming students show off their skills;
  • The School’s Wiki

Even if there is no specific feedback mechanism, you’ll typically find a link to the teacher’s email where a small note of appreciation goes a long way and you know will be shared with students.  You, and your students can help the cause by viewing/reading, analysing, and providing commentary on the various projects.  The ultimate compliment though would be to use the projects of others as inspiration as you create your own.  Now, that’s doing different things.

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OTR Links for 02/24/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.