The World According to Matt


Sometimes we learn in unexpected ways.
Today I asked one of my students to help me install Ubuntu on an old laptop that was giving me fits. While we were waiting for the software to install, I asked him about how his classes were going, specifically regarding the use of technology.
He eyed me somewhat suspiciously, and then he said: "Well, I wish teachers wouldn’t assign stuff for no reason. It seems that they are just adding on technology projects on top of the other things we already do." He senses from some teachers that they feel they have to "do" technology, not that they want to. His biggest criticism is the way we blog. A teacher posts a question, and the student writes a nightly response to it, much like he would do in a reading log or journal. He said there’s not much follow-up to the posting, either by students or teachers.
What Matt wishes is that his teachers would consider using blogs or forums to extend his learning. Perhaps assign a reading one night and the next night ask students to discuss the reading. No, he doesn’t want the teacher to assign a question because all kids do then is respond to the question–like regular homework. What if, he asked, teachers could assign students the job of discussing the literature, the war, the character, the concept on a blog or forum. Then, the next day, the teacher could ask about the discussion. Perhaps  put it up on the board via projector, share some responses.He thinks it would make students think rather than just answer the question.
"It would free up more class time for more discussions because the students would have already thought about the issues the night before," he said.
Even better, ask them to defend their answer, he said. Tell them they need to find other websites, videos, quotes to support their ideas…and share those on the website, too.
Less teacher directed, he was saying.
I don’t blame the teachers; many are blogging for the first time, taking those baby steps we talk about. I’ve made similar assignments myself. And I don’t think I have spent enough time explaining the value of blogs vs homework paper journals.
He said other students are frustrated, too. But he thinks a few conversations between students and teachers would go a long way to making all this work.
Now there’s an idea.

Image: ‘From where I sit