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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Ask, Why do you?

The next educational blog by me. I have had several in the past. Most of them were designed for me to communicate with my students. I have blogged for nearly 4 years.

So why another one? Well, I will find myself in a different capacity next year. I will be one of two Media Specialist at Dalton Middle School in the Northwest corner of Georgia. The title of the blog represents my standard reply to questions I receive as an educator. I have used it with my students to get a clearer picture of what they are really wanting to know or do. I do not see the question changing much in my new position. Now it will extend beyond the 11-15 year olds to the entire population of the school and stake-holders (I hate that term).

I think it is appropriate to answer the first question I have been asked, and will be asked as school begins in August.

Q: Why did you want to go to the Media Center?

A: Truly, because I needed the change. In my 11 years of teaching (10 at Dalton Middle), I have taught Social Studies (5 years) and Computer Applications (5 years). When I began teaching here we were a 7th & 8th grade Jr. High School. There were about 500-550 students. Now we are a 6th-8th grade middle school with over 1300 students. Things have changed dramatically in the past 10 years. I loved being in the classroom, but as standards have changed, NCLB was instituted, and the focus is test scores instead of children, I find that I need to be in a different role.

Q: What is the real reason you are moving?

A: When I began teaching Computer Applications in 2001, I was the sole person who managed my class. I had the ability to block inappropriate websites as I found them. Things were more demanding, yet somehow much simpler and more effective. Now we have a district Technology Department, who under their interpretation of CIPA (and probably DOPA) believe it is more important to block everything, and open it as they review the site for educational possibility. I really don't have a problem with that, except that I may need access to a blocked site this week, and I would have to wait nearly a month for the decision to allow my students to view the content. On a couple of occasions the sites in question were news items from CNN or the NY Times about the furer over MySpace. My own site (a daily blog on assignments and the ability for students to give feedback in the Comments section) was blocked. The students and I really enjoyed the interaction.

It simply became too frustrating for a 21st century teacher who believes it is the educational community's responsibility to teach the appropriate use of modern tools (MySpace, Facebook, Xanga, etc.) rather than ban it. It seems to me that we have forgotten that when an adult says "No" a child (especially an adolescent) will find out a way to get around our opposition on the sly. I figure as a Media Specialist, I will have opportunities to conduct parent clinics that will show them what all the new online world is like. That's one of my goals anyway.

So...for now, welcome to my new blog. I hope you can access it at work.

Modern book-burning is called site-blocking.


At 10:32 AM, Blogger Kay said...

Holy Cow! You struck a nerve with your phrase, "Modern book-burning is called site-blocking."

More comments are on my blog - thanks for the eye-opener!


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