Think. Communicate your thoughts. Collaborate with other thinkers. Think some more. Create. None of these are technology skills. But technology makes all of them happen far faster, better, and deeper than ever before.
Yes, the cliché is true that we have to prepare students for careers that haven’t been invented yet. But it is also true that we have to prepare them to re-invent themselves and their skill set again at 30, 40, 50; long after they’ve left "schooling." How many of us are modeling this? How many of us are still relying mainly on the skills we were taught? When we need to know how to do something new, what do we do? Ask to be taught or jump in and start learning? (Have you ever heard "I'd really like to learn something about this Web 2.0 stuff, will you offer a workshop?") I know I'm being unfair, workshops definitely have their place, but the best workshops offer just a touch of teaching and lots of discovery and engagement with a resource (me) available for help.
Today in class students blogged their reading books and responded to other blogs. Would reading journals serve the same purpose? Maybe to the teacher, but not to the students. Teens are desperate to talk to each other. We've given them a higher plane to carry on the conversation and they are engaged in discussing, evaluating and comparing books. We had an oral discussion of what makes a blog entry interesting and worth commenting on. Moving on, students used some advanced word processing features to collaboratively analyze the differences between a summary and a synthesis of a non-fiction article. They then pulled up the webs they'd made of their articles (there had summarized one of 10 articles pre-selected) and expanded the webs to include their thinking about their reading (metacognition). Tonight they'll finish their rough drafts. They'll use software to record an mp3 of their synthesis and practice reading with expression. Then they'll listen to themselves as they re-read and revise their draft. Is any of this the "shock and awe" use of technology Sam Morris of Cary Academy describes so well? Nope. Is it powerful? Yes! Transformative? Yes!