Tech, Teaching and Me

Trying to turn off my brain by writing it down

Laughing and Thinking in the Computer Lab

on September 26, 2012

For the past few classes, I have spent some time allowing my students to explore the PhotoBooth program on our new Mac computers. Pure, joyous moments of laughter have filled the computer lab. Even though I consistently tried to keep the noise to a quiet roar, I also smiled the whole time. I watched as 1st graders threw their arms in the air and squealed with delight while they rode the roller-coaster. I watched as 3rd graders created a picture of themselves with two heads and one pair of shoulders.

Learning should be fun. Learning needs to be fun. It should be joyous fun. I want the students to laugh out loud in the computer lab. I want to say, “Quiet down those laughs, please.” Sometimes we forget when we are having fun, we are open to our most creative self. Watching “Tim Brown’s Tales of creativity and play reminded me of all of these things and I am grateful.

Additionally from these week’s readings, I learned more about meta-cognitive thinking. In the article, Developing Meta-cognition, meta cognition is defined as thinking about thinking, knowing “what we know” and “what we don’t know.” The article goes on to explain, “Learning how to learn, developing a repertoire of thinking processes which can be applied to solve problems, is a major goal of education….When life presents situations that cannot be solved by learned responses, meta-cognitive behavior is brought into play.”

In my teachings, the opportunity for meta-cognitive strategies are ever present. Students enter the computer lab and may be faced with a different log on screen than they usually see. As simple as it may be for an older student, this can be a roadblock for a younger student. Teaching the students the steps of analyzing the screen, rebooting if necessary are empowering. Teaching them to think through the necessary steps and the whys and hows of each step is a life skill.

Also, teaching my students to read the message the computers “gives” us is a skill I emphasize as often as possible. Many times students and adults will approach me and say, “The computer has a message and I didn’t know what to do.” I will ask, “What does the message say?” Most often the reply is, “I don’t know.” Learning to stop, read, and think about that message can usually solve the problem. This is learning to learning and thinking through what seemed to be an impossible problem.

Lastly, this year our school added Mac computers to our very PC world. I have enjoyed teaching students and teachers alike to think through the process of the Mac system. It does look different, it operates different, but a computer is a computer is a computer. If we stop, think and process, or learn how to learn and apply those meta-cognitive skills, there is no problem or issue too big.

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