What box?

W h a00 T B O 0 X question mark ring

The old adage says to think “outside the box.” My question is, where did the box come from? Who made the box? Who decided to get in THE box?

Talking about a box, Erma Bombeck said:

There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, “Yes, I've got dreams, of course I've got dreams.” Then they put the box away and bring it out once in awhile to look in it, and yep, they're still there.

How sad!

Keep the dreams out of the box

Teachers and administrators need dreams. When we lose our dreams of making a difference in the lives of children, we lose the power to make a difference! We cannot put ourselves or our children in a box and hope them to be everything we want them to be!

Don't leave technology in the box

Before teaching in my current setting, I used to train public school teachers on how to implement technology in the classroom. I will never forget showing up an hour early for such a class and opening the door I thought was the classroom. It was a door full of about 30 computers still in the box. Upon inquiry, they had been sitting there for six months! (Money was going to “evaporate” and the end of the fiscal cycle, so they bought computers before the money went away and never got around to deciding where to put them! As a taxpayer, it really bothered me. As a person who is saddened by the unengagement of our local community in education, it broke my heart.)

Good technology supplements good teaching, it does not supplant it!

Some people view new technology as a threat. However, the effective employment of new technology is not about walking away from practices that work in the classroom, it is about walking away from practices that DO NOT WORK! It is about building a future for tomorrow that is different from our own.

Let's leave behind the excuses from our own childhood

It is not about saying “I sat in a classroom with no posters and a boring teacher and I turned out fine!” That is hogwash! With almost one third of American teenagers not graduating from high school we have work to do!

With the excitement of technology at a fever pitch, new technologies are the perfect conduit to reengage children who have been lost to boredom and hopelessness.

Who got in the box?

When I think about getting out of THE box, I want to ask why a person would ever climb into one in the first place? No matter our circumstances or condition, freedom is a state of mind more than circumstances!

As a reader of history, I have seen men and women who lived in prison cells and yet were free as their minds and thoughts were busy with activity. As a person who lives in a free country, I have seen men and women who lived in seeming freedom and yet were in a prison of their own mind and habits.

Stop looking at what you cannot do and begin focusing on what you can do!

You can be out of the box and still a good classroom manager

Don't misunderstand me, a good teacher is somewhat predictable, yes. They can get their classroom back on track in a millisecond. They can hush a student who is toying with the idea of goofing off with a sideways glance out of the corner of their eye. They have predictability and safety in their classroom management.

A rut is a never ending box!

A good teacher also makes sure they do not fall into the ruts of classroom monotony. A rut is just a box with no end!

Good teachers and technology

I believe that good teachers employ new tools and are constantly learning. They are pushing the limits of their students and their own as well. They never categorically deny the value of a technology they do not understand and have never used.

The new PEW Internet life study shows that 43 million Americans and 35% of
Internet users have created online content!
(Hat tip Andy Carvin.) It is vital that if our children are to emerge as products of the information age that they know how to create information safely and effectively. Taking such production out of the classroom is akin to restricting a student's access to pen and paper. Their future will be to contribute reams of meaningful, original, creative information as part of the “long tail” we hear so much about.

User generated online content. Source: Pew Home Broadband Adoption 2006.

Blogging is a sell out, Are educators selling out?

Conferences for bloggers like Gnomedex, BlogHer, and BloggerCon are sold out! Meanwhile there are far too many educators who are selling out by burying their head in the sand to the new media that is rising up around them like lava. What if we could emulate what beet.tv is doing for educational purposes in our classrooms?

Blocking insulates teachers from having to change

If technology is blocked, then teacher unwilling to change will not have to worry about how their classrooms have to change! If you can't join it, block it, some seem to say! If you don't understand it, block it! If you don't want to do it, block it!

Blocking recently cost the Cobb County school system
a $250,000 savings in telephone service when a filter inadvertently blocked the e-mail proposal.

The more you block, the more you lose, it is that simple. (I would never advocate unblocking pornography, I think, however, we're reaching the point of “overblocking.”)

Kids must be able to create online content

On his blog last week, Robert Scoble says:

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Karyn Romeis June 22, 2006 - 8:30 am

You’ve touched on one of my flashpoints, here. Increasingly, our children are being encouraged to do even their off-line work on computers. However, no typing skill tuition has been offered.

I certainly can’t touch type, but I do pretty well (and with all my fingers). My kids experience such frustration at not being able to type quickly, that they make their creative writing efforts as short as possible, in order to avoid the slog.

I can’t get my head around this. As you say: we teach them how to write, after all.

Tali Padan June 23, 2006 - 4:09 am

Hi Vicki,

I got your website from my friend Limor Garcia, the creator of cellphedia. I couldn’t find your email on this blog, so Im posting this comment.
I work in an educational tech organization called Vision Education & Media that provides after-school services to students in technology and multimedia. We work with Lego Robotics, Cricket Robotics, Digital Video, Blogging, Video Blogging, Digital Audio, and many more tools to make the classroom fun and to make the students empowered through technology. I would like to invite you to a very special event we are having this summer called the “Stonington Retreat”. This event is usually held in Maine, but this year it is being held in New York City (where Vision is located). I can tell you more about this retreat once I get your email, but I thought you would like to hear about it soon because our spaces are filling up quickly. Mitch Resnick, the creator of the PicoCricket, will be our special guest speaker. You can view our website for more information:
or feel free to email me at tali [at] vemny [dot] org. Many of our teacher participants are getting funding from their schools to pay for this retreat, so consider that as an option.

Sorry for the long comment!!


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The Cool Cat Teacher Blog
Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere