Given the choice, I’d pick Vanilla!

Taking advantage of a very surprising day off due to some ice on the roads (I still have to chuckle at what will close the schools here in the South), I worked on my curriculum for the Green ‘N Growing Project and LearnNC.  NC State Library’s Special Collections Archive has digitized a great collection of photos and documents related to the history of Home Demonstration and the 4H program.  In cooperation with LearnNC, they have asked teachers around the state to develop some lessons which incorporate these primary documents.  Although I was always more of a “shop” girl myself (my son’s wall displays the wooden gun rack I made back in middle school), I did take Home Economics class and even made a skirt (no pockets, no zipper!) and a lopsided pillow!  So, being the challenge-obsessed person I am, I agreed to create some lessons!  Wanting to incorporate as much technology as possible, I decided to create a Powerquest (thanks to some training last summer at Teacher Academy) which would guide the students through many of the archived photos.  But I also want to make it as problem based as possible, so the kids aren’t just aimlessly glancing at old photos.  So, I was reassured to read Ben, The Tech Savvy Educator‘s most recent post, Chocolate Ice Cream and Mario Bros.  The part that ruminates the most for me is this:

Too often I feel that computer labs are seen as the exact opposite of this experience. Teachers will walk their kids in (quietly! No pushing), sit them down, talk them through logging in, carefully explaining each step of the process. The lesson is some predetermined exercise or activity on a website in which the students must follow step by step instructions and all they really end up caring about is hurrying up to finish so they can go to their favorite game site and play an inning of math baseball or some other game. The spark for learning is nowhere to be found, just the drive to finish and go play. Too often this was the case in my early teaching with computers; do as I say, make sure you follow the steps, then you have free time afterward. I’m thankful that I’m learning from wonderful veteran teachers, so that the experience I had today of kids eagerly chatting away about their favorite video game character or ice cream flavor was a rewarding one for them and myself. In a way, it’s important to remember that students need choices on the computers just as much as anywhere in the school, just different choices than what game to play.

Sound familiar?  What if we actually gave them choices and (gulp) decisions to make on their own??  They might actually learn something!  Oh, my….

Picture:  Fork in the Road

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