Uncategorized

“Your child will not get abducted by a Bulgarian!”

I recently googled my name and went much deeper than the normal first two pages.  I found my first blog post ever on a blog I had totally forgotten about, and apparently never went back to after the first post.  It was written in May of 2007.  That was the end of the first school year that I had computers available to use on a regular basis, and the first year that you could click on a web page and have it load within the hour 😉  In 2006 I tried to start with a wiki, but the slow connection speed made us abandon the effort.

During 2007 we had been slowly trying to figure out how to incorporate our wiki into class. Finally in April we were able to not just collaborate amongst ourselves, but found Ben Wilkoff’s class using wikis in Colorado (quick story on how we connected).  Apparently this was too much for 2007, and a parent reported me to the Attorney General’s office–I was endangering her child by letting her go onto the computer.  That night I went home and ripped everything off-line…delete, delete, delete, delete.  I stopped all computer activities.  My thought was that if I did not give in to this one parent, I would not be able to do anything in the future.  Remember, this was 2007…no one had heard of a wiki, blog, or collaborating over the internet.  The internet was still an evil, evil, evil place that was full of people from New Zealand and Alaska who would sweep into Connecticut to take our children after reading their story on George Washington on our wiki.  By stopping everything first, I figured I could beat the administration to the decision, and then start-up again in the fall because I was never officially told by the administration to stop.

We did get started again in the fall, I decided to have a meeting with the parents the first week of school, and 45 minutes of the meeting was spent convincing them their kid would not get abducted by Australians or Bulgarians.  I  stopped just short of saying “I promise your child will not be abducted by a Bulgarian.” By the way, I spent about two minutes on that topic at last weeks meeting.  The amount of technology I use in the classroom can be traced directly back to the parent who brought us down in 2007.  I spent that summer doing nothing but research on new technologies, how to use them, and found all the available research on the real possibility of Australians and Bulgarians coming to get us.  I developed a plan to make a huge jump start at the beginning of the year with so much positive press, parents’ praise, and student engagement that once someone found out what we were actually doing they wouldn’t be able to simply pull the plug on us without some kind of backlash.  We were involved with EVERYTHING. Our internet connection was updated and we went crazy with Blogs, wikis, podcasts, video conferencing, local, national, and international collaborations, etc., etc..  When I found the date on the post I was shocked that just four years ago everything we are doing now would have been impossible.  I think everyone that believes we are moving too slow with technology integration has to remember that for all practical purposes, most teachers started having the possibility of using 2.0 tools in their class only 3-4 years ago.  I know that even if I had wanted to I could not have started any sooner with what was available to me.  Kind of makes you think that maybe we are doing alright…

Here is my post from my first blog from a student who still continues to visit and bring me my favorite donut each time:

Posted May 10, 2007 9:18 am
Without any fanfare and parades, here is my first post.  I thought that I would actually use the words of one of my students.  Our plunge into Classroom 2.0 technologies was abruptly ended a few weeks ago. One of my kids wrote about it in the school “magazine.” Thanks O for letting me post it.

Classroom 2.0 by O

From the beginning of time, our world has been expanding, growing, and receiving more and more knowledge everyday. Slowly but surely, that knowledge is heading towards the classroom, but there are those who want to stop it.

There are two or more computers in every classroom, so why shouldn’t they be used? Our society today is elevating to new heights where computers are becoming the main resources for classroom learning. Even some of the students at Moran have started to use this new classroom technology.

The students of Team 8-2 got the short-time pleasure of joining the new classroom trend. A website called Wikispace was the new site to be on for all for the 8-2 students. They were able to do projects, hand in homework, and talk to their classmates all via computer. What the kids were most excited about was their new project assigned by Mr. Bogush called Utopias. They were to create a “perfect” world with a set government, environment, and family plan. The best part would be at the end of their session.

After a long day of Mr. Bogush trying to find new ways to challenge and inspire, his students he found another teacher on Wikispace. He was Mr. Wilkoff, a teacher from Cresthill Middle School in Colorado! The two teachers collaborated and decided to start a project, together! They were going to have each of their classes create a utopia, a perfect world, and then on the Friday when the project was over they would use a Yack Pack, a system that uses a microphone and allows you to talk to people all over the world! As they started many of the Connecticut students became good friends with those from Colorado!

Unfortunately, the project was soon shut down before they could finish because of the fear and constant worry of safety.

Some people do not realize how important technology in the classroom is. This the way our society is growing and expanding our knowledge! If we are not able to use computers, websites, and all other types of technology how are we going to grow? How is our world going to develop?

Our society and school system has another problem. They don’t trust us. Students are categorized as unreliable and untrustworthy. If there is one student like this everyone is affected. They trust us so little that when we sign on to our school username accounts all you see is the Mustang emblem. We can’t even be trusted enough to have our own background on our desktops! We aren’t even allowed to enter simple websites such as Youtube because the security block prohibits us to have this often useful tool. There are multiple helpful videos that students can use in everyday classroom life.

One of the Colorado students wanted to voice their opinion on the Wikispace situation. Here is what Greta posted on the CO/CT wikispace discussion page:

puffins writes: I can’t believe the CT kids had to leave!

Seriously, I never even got a chance to talk to them, and do you know why? Because I was working and learning and writing! What does that tell you! That tells you that by them not being on here they are being deprived of something they could have learned from…. And that they have deprived an entire class of kids of some of the learning they needed!

So what do we have to do about it?

First of all, we can’t give our administrators reasons not to trust us. It’s our responsibility to be able to handle these types of easy tasks, so that we will be able to access such websites. If we want to be able to use technology then we have to prove ourselves to be able to handle it. But, administrators also have to be able to give that trust to students and not go by the stereotypes heard.

7 comments

  1. Paul,
    A great story. I really understood the “fear” idea of many parents. I also started a wiki a while back (2006) and was “scared” about what might happen. We have used the site since and never one negative parent comment. If fact, as you point out, they love to see students doing “real” world work. Keep telling stories.. Garth

  2. @ Pail
    Thank you for sharing this post. Thank you for what you’ve done to help push the frontiers of appropriate and well-designed technology use in schools. Perhaps the biggest obstacle in integrating these powerful learning tools is the irrational fear that accompanies the muddled thinking of so many in schools.

  3. It’s so very true – we need to trust students. Expect them to be not trustworthy, and we’ll get it! Trust them, and we’ll get responsible students. Just like in anything, yes? Thank you for sharing your story, Paul. And I know the kids thank you for trying again and not giving up – unbelievable that this was just a few years ago. We really need to communicate to parents – to let them know that their version of school is not the same as it is today… and that is OKAY. We need to change. We need to trust students. How better to learn from each other and those around us? I think “O” really packs a punch in this letter – Kudos to him/her!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>