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Monday, May 11, 2009

PREPARING KIDS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY: PART ONE

I've been reading Franki's incredible 21st century literacy posts, thinking about how I use the computer, and thinking about how the computer has changed my process as a writer. At the same time, we are getting new computers for our tech lab at school (FINALLY!) and are talking about how we want to use those computers with kids. 

 This weekend I helped Son #1 finish a research paper for school. I think back to when I was in high school and wrote research papers. We had to do all of the research on note cards, then we wrote an outline, then we hand wrote a rough draft, then we typed it. If you made a mistake, you could use white out, or this little white correcting paper stuff, or if you were really high tech, you had a computer with white correcting tape built in. And heaven help the person who got down to the bottom of the page, or worse yet, the end of the paper, and realized that they had forgotten to leave room for the footnotes. Definitely a "Do not pass go, do not collect $200" situation.

Zay's process was very different. He didn't take notes on the computer (although in some schools I imagine he might have), but from there on out, the process was all done on the computer. He wrote the rough draft on the computer. He saved it. He printed it out. He took it to school last Monday and got feedback from the teacher. I helped him make the revisions the teacher suggested, which took about an hour, and  voila, we had a finished research paper.
 
Zay's process much more closely matched the process I use when I am working on a project for home or school. It was much easier, and much less painful, than the process I used when I was in high school, years ago. The finished product was much higher quality. And yet, at my school, because the kids do have such limited access to computers, we are using a process that looks a lot more like the process I used thirty years ago.  And I can't help but wonder why we are not doing everything in our power, to ensure that every kid has access to a computer, all day, every day…

1 comment:

Laura Benson said...

I think about this so much, too. Asked to engage in two district surveys for CC, I voiced my concerns about the lack of computer education within CC, too. Tim had almost no training or opportunity to learn how to be grow his technology literacy. I think so many school districts think that kids have access to computers at home and/or get all their computer education at home and, thus, consistently cut funding and/or withdraw opportunities for children to learn more about and use computers. I think every child should have the opportunity to use computers to write...I know what an immense blessing my laptops have been and continue to be in my life, especially my journey as a writer. Just as children take piano lessons at a pretty early age, I think developmentally from fine motor to confidence to voice, computers are essential tools which writers should have the CHOICE to utilize. Go, Carol, go!
Love to you all...