Review: Transforming Schools is a profound and thorough examination of the current role of technology in our schools and suggestions for how we might
employ technology in the transformation of schools. This author has great experience as a teacher, researcher, and policy planner. The way in which he considers competing theories and opinions (e.g., "We are teaching a generation of digital natives, and they think differently than we do;" "Young people need to learn from people, not technology.") with equal weight and careful consideration lends his voice a particular authority and trustworthiness. The book is framed to
address six key education goals to clarify thinking and conversations about technology in schools. It uses specific examples of classrooms and the tools they use. Additionally, it discusses issues such as providing quality education for all learners, attracting and retaining high-quality teachers, increasing support for children outside of school, and accountability. This is an outstanding resource for teachers and administrators.
Other Information: Transforming Schools with Technology. Harvard Education Press, 2008. 260 pages. 888-437-1437. http://www.hepg.org.
Blogging provides primary students with a way to share their thoughts with the entire world. Why would children want to write in a notebook for their teacher to read, when they can write on a blog for the world to read? The blogging tool that I use records the number of "reads" that each article has received. It is pretty inspiring to be six years old and to see that an article that you have written has had twenty, fifty, or even one hundred reads.
All of the old writing methods had their drawbacks. What my writing class looks like now is a group of boys sitting around a table, each with their laptop open, and that's exactly the way I want my writing class to look. At The Greenwood School in Putney, Vermont, I work very closely with small groups of middle school and junior high boys, five or fewer to a writing class. Personal laptops allow my students to work independently in ways more adaptable to their individual learning styles, making it is easier for students to develop individual writing processes.
Educational research has shown that simulation environments provide rich learning opportunities in a context in which most youngsters feel comfortable and capable. But teachers often do not know how to utilize these tools. If the teacher did not grow up "digital" he or she may not have a comfort level with the simulations; additionally, teachers may be reluctant to use a tool that seems too frivolous to them or they may be concerned about choosing a simulation game with inappropriate content.
Rather than throw our hands up in despair at how much screen time students have, it might be useful to look at computer games to provide another perspective. Just as a key martial arts strategy is to use your opponent's strength to your advantage, games can be leveraged for great learning opportunities.