"Find the passion in your students, and use it to inspire, teach, and give them the chance
to find their own meaning in school and in the world. Give them choice -- let them grab
their education and run."
West Deptford, New Jersey
Technology as a Tool
Teachers get very concerned when
they're told to teach technology
("Programming: The New Literacy,"
February/March 2008). Most of us
are barely capable of teaching basic
productivity software (even though
Microsoft Word has been around for
Teachers need training -- it almost
goes without saying -- and embedded
in this training must be the vision of
technology as enhancer, not replacer.
Teachers will never become obsolete.
Tried-and-true teacher tricks continue
to serve us well in the classroom,
and they can assist us as we
incorporate technology into our classroom.
Technology can also help us
use these tricks more effectively and
share them with more educators more
Ed-tech geeks need to help their
colleagues in the classroom capture
the fun of learning new tools. The
Massachusetts Institute of Technology's
Scratch feels like playing with
Legos, and it can be used to create
some very cool, very fun, and incidentally
It is not too late for nongeeks to learn
more about technology and programming.
I took my first computer course
at midlife a few years ago. I started
with computer music technology
and computer multimedia, and then
explored Web development and programming,
but my favorite class was
Programming languages and environments
are becoming much more
user friendly. There is quite a bit of
support available on the Internet. For
example, Microsoft's Coding for Fun
and XNA Game Studio both provide
free programming environments,
starter sample kits, tutorials, blogs,
and forums for beginners.
If you are thinking about taking the
first step into programming, take advantage
of your local community college.
Many offer classes such as Internet
programming, Web development,
database applications, and traditional
programming languages such as Java,
C++, and .NET. Some community
colleges offer game-design and game-programming
courses, which make it
fun to learn basic concepts.
Union County Public Schools
Charlotte, North Carolina
Great article. My first thought to the
question "How do we, as educators,
make our students literate?" (given
that most teachers do not have these
literacy skills): Let the kids teach each
other. Many of them have already
figured out how to teach themselves
these skills. Why not mine the rich
skill set that is already sitting in your classroom?
Berkeley Public Education Foundation
The best education teaches student to
solve problems creatively and think
critically. Programming is the best way
to teach both. When I teach my students
to program games in Logo with
MicroWorlds, they are challenged to
solve many problems along the way
and inspired with new ideas.
Building and programming robots
teaches the same skills and more. The
classes where my students learn the
most by far are programming and robotics.
These classes should be mandatory
for all students. Unfortunately,
until the United States pays and trains
teachers at a much higher level, these
skills will continue to be taught only at
a select few schools.
Director of academic technology
St. Luke's School
New York, New York