I grew up with chalkboards and whiteboards, overhead projectors, filmstrips and VHS tapes. The first time I remember having a classroom computer was in high school. My teachers did not have e-mail. My report cards were printed and came in the mail or were sent home with a parent during conferences. And if you forgot your lunch money? Well, you were just out of luck.
Times have changed. My boys (kindergarten and 1st grade) have Promethean boards in their classrooms, as well as at least four notebook computers. Once a week, each class goes to computer lab where they play educational games and learn basic life skills: using a mouse and navigating through websites.
One day, my 1st grader explained how they would take an upcoming test about the bones of the body. The teacher uses a laptop and projects a skeleton on the wall. Each student uses a “clicker” to record the answer. No pencil. No paper. No waiting anxiously to see your grade. No “A+” written in red. It’s real time. A very efficient way for a teacher to gauge how well the students know the material.
The clicker is not just used for tests. It is also records how many students are eating a hot school lunch, and how many students brought their own lunch from home. In the old days they must have tallied the number of hot lunches by hand. What a pain in the neck.
My youngest mentioned that they watched a movie in class. I made the mistake of asking “Did the teacher wheel a big TV into the classroom and pop in a VHS tape?” He looked at me funny and said, “No…we just watched it on the Promethean board.” At least I didn’t mention a filmstrip.
I love that I get e-mails, text messages and online report cards. And this year I was able to enroll both of them on the district website, which includes an account for school meals. The district even has a twitter account.
My children think this is no big deal. They grew up digitally connected. But I wonder what teachers do with students who misbehave? Gone are the days of staying after school and writing “I will not…” 100 times. Maybe they have to count the hot lunches by hand.
Jan. 22, 2009: My Children are Digital Natives…and I’m a Digital Immigrant