Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Bionic Student

Today was the first school day for my classes.  I teach a mix of 9-12 high school students, with one 9th grade class, and most of the others being upperclassmen.

We don't have a 1:1 initiative at my school, but four years ago, I swapped out books for a series of 16 laptops.  That's a great thing for partners, and I use them frequently, but my go-to tool today was a combination of that and the student smartphones and/or e-readers.  Kids can use whatever tool they feel comfortable with; a few kids grabbed laptops, but since more than 80% of the upperclassmen had smartphones, a lot of them just used those.  It's comfortable.  Some text, some talk, some use Swype.  It works for them.

photo credit: William Hook via photopin cc

Back in your brain, you might remember a TV show called The Six Million Dollar Man.    It was about a cyborg, also called a bionic man.   The show, while cheesy, has the tagline that fits this transition into technology.  Can you remember it?  Look further to see why it matters.

So what did we do in today's shortened classes?
  1. Downloaded the Google Drive app to most phones.
  2. Created documents on Google Drive via app or laptop.  Shared those documents with the teacher account.
  3. Downloaded free planetarium software to the App page of Google Chrome (laptops) or smartphones.
  4. Took pictures of information on the board.
  5. Created a reminder of physics supplies needed for tomorrow's labs.
What will we do tomorrow?
  • Tweet our Claim/Evidence/Reason regarding a physics lab.
  • Receive instruction at a personalized pace from a class blog
  • Look at different views of the sky from varying latitudes.
  • Reflect in the shared documents we created yesterday (personal journaling and metacognition)
  • Share real-time data.
  • Fill out a getting-to-know-you form.
  • Write a 140 character summary.
  • Take a formative assessment.
  • Access a flexbook.
That tagline, mentioned above:

"Steve Austin, astronaut. A man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster."
-Oscar Goldman

Sure, there will be days that we use only laptops, when we need to run a java simulation, but they are few and far between.   Because technology is no longer a nice add-on. It's a fundamental way of doing work that is worthy of the world.  That's why I've changed the tagline:

"OUR STUDENTS are the next dreamers and astronauts. Some come to school and feel they are barely alive. We can rebuild schools for her or him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's best schools.  Better than they were before. Better, stronger, faster to acknowledge that students and their way of doing things matters."
-(apologies to) Oscar Goldman

THAT is what I want for my students, and that is the freedom I NEED from my administration and education as a whole.

1 comment:

  1. May I have permission to use your Goldman re-write in our next faculty meeting? It's splendid. (Thanks for the Teacherpreneur book recc, as well. Ordering one now.)