Powerful Tech Lesson+Giveaway!

I have to share this story because it was such a powerful day for me as a technology teacher and really challenged me to think more about my role in the schools I serve…

Last week a teacher asked me to come into her classroom to do a lesson on spreadsheets. Her fourth graders had expressed interest in learning more about these types of documents. Before I started the lesson I asked the kids WHY they wanted to learn about spreadsheets-what had sparked their curiousity? The number one answer was that they heard their parents/older siblings talk about using spreadsheets and they wanted to know what it was all about.

I used the program Numbers to show the kids how spreadsheets are helpful when it comes to organizing data. We created a whole class spreadsheet and pie graph on the Promethean board. Once I had shown the students the ins and outs of the program, we gave a laptop to each child and told them they could create a spreadsheet on ANYTHING they wanted to. This unstructured assignment proved to show how creative and innovative children can be if you first model effective practices and then trust they will be able to create on their own. One child created a spreadsheet for the bakery business she hopes to one day own. Another charted information on various Presidents. One little boy created a running log of how many levels he had completed in different video games. All spreadsheets were related to student interest and the kids felts like they were truly doing something meaningful!

What was so eye opening for me was when I told the students to shut down their computers and not worry about printing out their spreadsheet. They could not believe that we were not going to GRADE the assignment they had been working on. Most of the children begged to save their document (how could I say no?) When the last laptop had been put back into the cart and I was saying goodbye, one little guy piped up and asked, "What was the purpose of this lesson if we don't have anything to show for it?" I simply asked, "Did you learn something new in the past hour?" He shook his head "yes". Then I inquired, "Do you think you will ever try to create a spreadsheet on your own?" He said, "Oh yeah, as soon as I get home today I am going to create a spreadsheet for my aunt's guest list for her wedding (one of my examples I had used in my lesson)." I responded, "Well my friend, that shows a lot more than a piece of paper. It sounds like this was a valuable technology lesson." I smiled and headed out the door. I can't even describe the feelings I felt at that moment. Educational technology NEEDS to be about the learning process, not the product…

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