There’s been some discussion in the edublogosphere about digital natives vs. digital immigrants, and yet increasingly I find that there’s no such thing as digital natives. Tonight, I taught the same basic lesson six different ways. The lesson was this:

  • Set up your PowerPoint/Keynote presentation even if you don’t have all the research done. Use the 20 slides timed to 20 seconds apiece as a guide to your research process.

That was it.

Here’s the six ways I taught it.

1. I laid out twenty index cards with Bob, and put a title on each. He and I made notes on what images he’d seek out for each card. Then I saw him through copying the first three cards.
2. I helped Tom set up twenty slides in PowerPoint and helped him program them so a new slide would appear, Pecha Kutcha style, every twenty seconds.
3. I helped Dave set up twenty slides and asked him questions about his presentation until he had put a title on every page — thus outlining his presentation.
4. Rick and I searched Time and Life archives from World War II and after for images of Soviet Russia for his presentation. We picked twenty and he gave them titles. I told him to put them into an order that made sense to him.
5. Roy set his slides up with transitions and funky colors and the French flag. It’s more sound and fury than anything, but he’s got 20 slides.
6. I showed my own developing slideshow with its 20 slides to Jeff. I told the story far faster than he would, but he got that it was similar to what I expected him to do with his. He only had two slides set, but he had started and had an idea where he was headed.

The part that drives me crazy is this. Sometime over the weekend our school server must have gone down. None of the students on campus can access the Internet at all, nor could they. And in this class, four kids no longer have laptops. Two broke. One was confiscated by the school for inappropriate use, and then not returned. One was confiscated by parents for inappropriate use.

It’s very hard to adjust classroom planning to 1:1 computing. It’s even harder to adjust from 1:1 computing to 1:most computing. The imperative from the blogosphere is “get to one-to-one right away.” The technical reality, the boot disks on the ground, says that instruction and intention will drift as computers wind up on a repair shelf, a discipline shelf, or both in succession. How do I make differentiated instruction work, when the differentiation is most visible in the hardware or lack of it?

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