Technology is fast-paced and ever changing. Students seem to love this aspect; always something new, exciting, different to experience. In my field as a Technology Resource and Computer Lab Teacher at a private school, I get to bring the new and exciting and present it for a purpose. Students that I teach will comment, "I love the games and activities that we get to do in computer class." I always smile and thank them, secretly congratulating myself on duping another child. They may see the activities as just fun and games, but there is a greater purpose behind everything that we do. Students racing each other in typing games may not seem to have much academic benefit, but if you could see last year's first graders, who are now second graders, you would see incredible progress and growth in self-confidence. I love hearing students say, "I passed this level, Mrs. Anderson!" Or, "Watch as I type! I don't have to look at the keys anymore!" They see their own progress and become more self-empowered. If nothing else, that is what I want for my students. Students who last year needed my help with almost every coding puzzle, are now learning to problem-solve collaboratively with a classmate, or even on their own. Believing in themselves and what they can accomplish gives them limitless possibilities for their future.
Last year during our six week #TechCrushTuesday, I created age-appropriate activities for all our Lower School students. One day was dedicated as a Makey Makey Day. (Makey Makeys are small motherboards that can connect to your computer. It can control your spacebar and arrow keys when a circuit is completed between the Makey Makey, an item that conducts electricity, and a human.)
One of the stations created was a Tetris station with foil arrows on the ground. Students used bare feet to change and direct their shape. Most students played the game and enjoyed seeing how it worked, but one class of students decided to have four students play together, each one having assigned themselves an arrow. By connecting hands, they discovered that electricity would flow from person-to-person, allowing them to take turns stomping on the appropriate arrows to beat the game. I was thrilled to see the problem-solving, ingenuity, collaboration, and the determination these student exhibited.
Tomorrow's job market certainly won't care whether a student knows how to play Tetris, or if they have memorized the degrees in a right angle, or even if they keep their pointer fingers on J and F when typing. However, what they will value is the confidence, collaboration, problem solving skills, and ingenuity that students gain when using and working with technology in interesting, yet purposeful ways. As adults, we use technology so often that for many of us, it has lost that sparkle of being exciting. For my students, technology allows them to create, collaborate, communicate, problem-solve, and dream just a little deeper. I sincerely hope that my students will continue to develop these qualities and skills throughout their lives, even as the world and the job market continue to evolve at an incredibly fast pace.
Watch one student play Tetris below!
#TechCrushTuesday Tetris from Dee Hwang on Vimeo.
Fredericksburg Academy is a private school in Fredericksburg, Virginia, serving students aged three-years through twelfth grade.