on slow, steady wins …

'Technology' photo (c) 2011, Tom Taker - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Slow and steady wins the race …

I recently came across the post “2 Ideas to Gradually Integrate Technology” on the Edumic Blog that made me reflect on my two most recent adventures in tech integrated projects.

It doesn’t always feel like that when I visit other schools and see what they’re doing to integrate technology into their curricula.  Ultimately, though, if the race is against where your institution is now and where you want to go, slow and steady is the way to go.

In my excitement and exuberance to finally be able to blog with my students and with an excitingly integrated project being launched by our seventh grade history teachers, I/we took a good cut at the ball and swung for the fences.  In retrospect, we really should have just tried to make good contact with the ball and get on base.

With blogging, I made a big deal about my students posting to their blogs and finding copyright friendly images to go along with their posts.  That is just one requirement too many for a twelve-year old learning to blog for the first time.  I’m finding that I’m going to have to walk it back a little bit.  Today we’re going to post to our blogs and I’m going to just let them post a picture.  Yes, I know that this isn’t perfect, but Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will good digital citizens.  I’m going to let them get used to writing for an audience, working in the Blogger interface, and navigating through the blogging process.  We do a nicely thorough unit with our kids on images and intellectual property later in the course and after we have gone through the unit, the expectation will be that my kids will use images that are copyright friendly for their blogs.  I know it isn’t perfect, but the world isn’t perfect so I’m just going to let go and get over it.  I could, of course, have my kids post to their blogs without images, but … That’s boring and kids love choosing an image to go with their writing.  As educators, sometimes we have to grow before we can present the content/concepts that we want kids to internalize.  I think this is one of those times.

I think we made a similar error with our seventh grade history assignment.  Students are working in groups to research a Latin American country/region and putting together a presentation for their classmates.  They are using Noodletools to collaboratively enter bibliographic information for sources and build/create note cards, and they are collaboratively using Google Drive Presentation to create a slideshow that they will present to their classmates.  That is a lot of new stuff to deal with.  They have all been pretty through a good introduction to Noodletools, but as seventh graders this is only their second project.  They have also been briefly introduced to Google Drive, but this is their very first collaborative project in Google Presentation.  That is a lot for a twelve-year old brain to take in all at once.  Our mistake was, again, asking them to include an attribution for each of the images that they are using in the presentation.  With all that is new, keeping track of which creator or website goes with which image is proving to just be one too many things for the kids to juggle.

Lesson learned …

Next time around, we need to settle for content with un-attributed images.  Yes, that’s bad. Again, though, Rome wasn’t built in a day … When all of our seventh graders have finished the images unit in the Library and Technology course, they’ll be ready to find and use copyright friendly images in their presentations.  Until then, I will have to remind myself to embrace the imperfect world and be happy with the knowledge that with each project, we’re moving a little bit closer to  good digital citizenship in our community.

All in all, moving slowly but steadily in the right direction isn’t all that bad!

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