Moved by Tech
I was moved by your coverage of the Digital Generation's tools. As a third-grade teacher, I see my students benefit from the joys of Google, Merriam-Webster Online, Smart Board interactive whiteboards, the iPod touch, image searches, Skype, and an endless array of educational games.
Each day, we use technology in a new way. My students have discovered the power of images of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island. They have challenged each other in virtual games to practice spelling and basic facts. They have pretested themselves out of chapters in math by discovering interesting projects that involve building and using mathematical solutions to prove a point.
They have virtually traveled the Oregon Trail and challenged the content of textbooks by finding stories of diverse, nonwhite immigrants who made the journey during the 1850s. They've learned so many new and diverse ways to communicate through technology.
West Hartford, Connecticut
The Facebook Paradigm
It seems inevitable that we will integrate social-networking sites and other online social spaces into our classroom practices ("Avatars Teach Teens About Self-Image," June/July 2009). The technology is readily available, and most children are already relying on it to create multiple social spaces.
The one thing that worries me about bringing this type of literacy into the classroom, though, is that some teachers may not understand that the flow of information and the direction of the content is student centered.
In the social-network spaces, learners are leaders and leaders are learners; the participants aren't defined by a traditional classroom structure. The framework of the teacher as leader will have to cease so that student creativity can flow and their exploration of content can continue.
Buffalo, New York
Kids of the Future
I just saw the video of Jalen from the Digital Generation Project, which did a good job of capturing the kinds of work students are doing at school and at home and how the two fit together. It is great that the world can get a picture of what a school of the future -- and a kid of the future -- looks like.
Fit to Learn
Thanks for more proof that fit and healthy children will learn better ("A Fit Body Means a Fit Mind," June/July 2009). If we do indeed want to see improvement in our students' academic achievement, we must make sure that they are getting daily physical education. Every educator should read this article.
Teachers Are the Key
As a parent of two children who attend Forest Lake Elementary Technology Magnet School through the school district's choice program, I am very happy with all the wonderful things my kids are exposed to ("Educators Innovate Through Technology Integration," June/July 2009). Teachers present lessons in such an interactive and cooperative way that it encourages each child to participate.
In this tech-driven world, teaching kids how to be comfortable with all the advanced digital tools will only enhance their ability to achieve even more in the future. They won't see technology as something foreign and intimidating. The teachers are key to this integration.
Columbia, South Carolina
Learning Where You Live
That was a great article on teaching wind technology ("Wind Turbines Fuel Learning," June/July 2009)! It presents the right blend of technology and a curriculum that's unique to a particular location. That type of learning means more to students because it hits them where they live.
Because all communities are unique, community members can use technology, local resources, and teachers to help kids become prepared for the environment in which they live now and, ultimately, the global environment. This article shows us that a community can use common sense to educate in a tech-savvy world.
The Creative Age
I've often wondered why kindergarten has evolved into just another grade for students to be in ("Kindergarten Is the Model for Lifelong Learning," June/July 2009). Mitch Resnick is absolutely correct to note that we no longer value nor encourage the kind of creative, critical thinking that traditionally goes on in kindergarten. As a preschool teacher, I support whatever efforts we can muster to move forward with lifelong kindergarten.