Wednesday, January 6, 2016

#HappyClassroom: Technology, 1988 and My Continuing Math Nightmares

So...right prior to winter break I received some fantastic news.

My grant request to attend the NCCE (Tech) conference was approved. It allowed me to guarantee myself a spot at the Northwest's biggest Technology event. I am so thrilled! Honestly, I had forgotten I applied (the story of my life, "The Absent Minded Teacher.") So when I read the email (luckily I checked the "social" tab in my Gmail!) I was over the moon. I am that teacher. You know, the one who isn't ok with the doing the same old thing, because it is the same old thing. The one that doesn't believe living in a rural town should mean inequality when it comes to children and education. The one that is willing to embrace change when it is backed with sound research. We are teaching kids for the future; for jobs that are yet to exist. Yet so many are reluctant to incorporate any technology at all. And yet, tech is the cobblestone on which the path to the future is laid!

 Don't get me wrong. I still love the smell of musty books. I still love to create things out of pattern blocks. I still love to smell and taste at the science center (I mean touch, touch is what I meant). But I do not love story problems. I still have nightmares of being called to the board in 10th grade math. (Nothing helps an introvert learn like forcing them to answer a previously unseen problem in front of the class, in FRONT of the cute guy, at any given time.) It's actually called public humiliation, not teaching. And it haunts me to this day, in 2016.

I was meant to write. I love to read, but math, higher level math, was never my strong suit and that is OK. We are all unique. We are all individuals with different needs and strengths. Had the internet existed in 1988 (also known as the Stone Age) I could have avoided the 20 years of nightmares to follow that regularly included me failing math, 20 assignments behind, a book in front of me that might as well be in Latin because it makes no sense, wondering how I will catch up.

With the internet I could have Googled how to calculate when 2 trains meet in the night. I could have watched a video on YouTube of how to solve train problems. I could have Twittered or Facebooked for help from friends who love math like I love writing. Asking them why it was even relevant to know when two trains pass each other.

Technology levels the playing field for learners. It allows all of us to learn in our own way, in our own time, with as many rewinds as necessary (is that still a word?). Nurturing us in ways we feel comfortable, without shaming, without negatively impacting our self-esteem. It allows us to expand our knowledge in creative and authentic ways. And it also allows us to become masters of our knowledge and turn our knowledge into life changing projects and careers. Such learning is truly the sign of progressive education and guaranteed not to cause nightmares.

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