Hidden messages are everywhere around us. They are on television, in toy store aisles, embedded in children stories, etc. These biases on race and gender roles are internalized without much thought. But if we have any role as teachers it is to teach them to be critical at all the times.
This is exactly the role that current school structures are missing. I teach at Calcutt Middle School in Central Falls. Central Falls does not have the best reputation. We are known as poor. We are known as the district where all the teachers were fired. We are known as transformation schools.
When I think of my classroom, I see the reality of “domesticating education.” We, as teachers, are given a scripted curriculum. It is largely worksheet based. As we sat in class everyday for the last two weeks, I realized how little freedom I have in my own classroom. Other teachers from more affluent districts were talking about units on analyzing media, gender roles, photo projects, etc. But all I could think of was my script. It limits me from teaching students how to explore and question independently.
Beyond the chance to explore, this Media Literacy class verified that technology does not be a means of education but can be just an added support. This is the way I already use technology in my class. Central Falls just issued chromebooks to students and teachers. As a result, my students are well versed in Google Drive. They complete papers using google docs. They answer questions and submit them on google classroom.
In this way I am largely a techno-traditionalist. I use technology as an aid to limit my paper load. By having students submit papers via google classroom, I reduce the number of copies I make, the need to print, and the constant stack of papers off my desk.
However, I decided that I want to push myself to push towards techno-constructivist. I wanted to use technology to change the way my students learn instead of just how they hand in work. So I decided to use technology to differentiate my scripted lessons for my special education students.
Through this class I learned some basic tools from new websites. I was able to create storyboards and posters through storyboardthat and glogster. These steps only required me to learn a new tool. I have learned to use many new websites in the last few years that this didn’t really surprise me.
I wanted to do something completely new. Other students spoke of creating a website but that task seemed astronomical to me. Although I consider myself a digital native, this new task scared me. What if I don’t understand the lingo. What if I can’t create a basic set up? What happens if I spend a lot of time and it isn’t good enough to actually use?
But despite my discomfort, I ventured into the world of websites. First with google sites, where I failed, and then with weebly. I was amazed at what I could accomplish just by exploring new websites on my own. I made a website without a lesson or an expert. I made a website by trying new things independently!
I was amazed at what I accomplished on my own. I feel that my classroom was transformed this summer. I have a new way to communicate with students and parents. I have a new tool to teach students the same material.
I also realized that the term “digital immigrants” implies that the internet is a country. But I would argue that it is a whole world of its own. I may not be a digital native but I feel I am a google native. This class made me travel to new digital countries.