As an educator who believes strongly in putting today’s tools into the hands of teachers and students I was ecstatic when I learned that my son will be entering middle school next year and he, along with all of the other students will be taking his laptop to school everyday. I don’t know which one of us will be more excited when he starts school in August. I was excited when he went to kindergarten but this is going to be even better. The beginning of a revolution in my mind.
I recently accepted the High School Principal position at Associacao Escola Graduada de Sao Paulo (or as those of us in the international school circuit know it as, Graded). Graded is an American international school serving Brazilians and expatriates in Sao Paulo. The middle school recently embarked on a 1:1 laptop initiative for their 6th graders and my son will enter 6th grade next year. My oldest daughter will join him a year later. I can’t wait to learn more about teaching and learning in a modern environment through the eyes of my son. So, what are we doing to prepare? (feel free to substitute “I” for “we” since it’s really me that’s doing the preparing. He’s not really thinking that far ahead.)
1. I contacted his current teacher to tell her that there is no need for him to continue working on cursive and that his time would be better spent on keyboarding. She proceeded to send me a list of typing sites from the internet for us to use at home.
2. We’re trying to decide if I should give him my 1 year old mini laptop or to purchase him a new one. We want to make sure that he has a machine that he’s excited about. OK, maybe one that I’m also excited about.
3. Teach him a few cool tools so he’ll be able to show off a bit to his friends and teachers. He’s already on Facebook and using Google Docs but he may need to start twittering, using Prezi, animation tools and other stuff. To do this I’ll have to spend some time learning about the latest toys.
4. We may need to have him practice bringing his current mini to school every day so that he gets used to taking care of it. Don’t want to have any problems when it comes time for the real thing. We’ll have to check the rules at his current school to find out if students are able to bring a laptop to school.
5. Throw out the thumb drive that he currently uses to take files back and forth to school. No need for that since he needs to get used to saving in the cloud at Graded. They’re just starting to use Gmail and Google Docs with the students.
6. Shifting our focus from preparing for the North Carolina 5th grade end of grade exam to preparing for the future. OK, so we were never very focused on the exam at the end of the year.
What am I missing? Oh, I mean what are we missing?