Fourth Graders know

So I still have Shirky’s post running through my head.

Here’s something four-year-olds know: A screen that ships without a mouse ships broken. Here’s something four-year-olds know: Media that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not be worth sitting still for. Those are things that make me believe that this is a one-way change. Because four year olds, the people who are soaking most deeply in the current environment, who won’t have to go through the trauma that I have to go through of trying to unlearn a childhood spent watching Gilligan’s Island, they just assume that media includes consuming, producing and sharing.

When today I head into a 4th grade class to talk about cyber safety (the school counselor talked me into it 😉 ).

As we were wrapping up I asked the kids, “How old do you think the Internet is?”

“50?”
“20?”

Counselor: “What!” laughing “No way!”

“15?”

Me: “Well actually the web as we know it today got started in 1996.”

Students:
“What! That’s it?”
“No Way!”

Every student but one has their own cell phone
Every student raised their hand when I asked if they go on the Internet at least once a week.
Every student has an mp3 player

To reword Shirky from above:

Here’s something fourth graders know: Media is free, content is free, it’s always been that way. Here’s something fourth graders know: Information that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not be worth sitting still for. Those are things that make me believe that this is a one-way change. Because fourth graders, the students we’re teaching are soaking most deeply in the current environment, who won’t have to go through the trauma that we have to go through of trying to unlearn a childhood spent watching (Insert favorite sitcom), they just assume that information is consumable, producible and sharable.

And that’s just the way it is!

What interested me the most is in all six of the classes, as soon as I start talking about technology they all get that look….teachers know the one…..the one of complete attention, of wanting to know and wanting to share what they know.

We talk about all their favorite sites, we talk about who has this gaming console and who has that one. We talk about cell phones…and when they are really excited, we talk about staying safe on the web. What do you share, what not to share, were are the “cool places” and where should you not go.

One fourth grade lied and is on Facebook

Three others have older siblings who are under 13 and are on Facebook.

Ladies and Gentlemen we’re missing opportunities here to teach with the tool they so desperately want to use and want to learn. I could have asked them to write about their favorite features on their cell phones. To write a letter to their parents about why they should get an iPhone (persuasive writing).

We could have discussed the lastest podcast from ?????

We could have discussed the latest developments in Club Penguin.

We can do so much with what they are excited about. So many opportunities to bring learning into what they are doing, what they want to be doing, a where they are and want to spend their time. Opportunities….so many opportunities.

4 Comments

  1. Hey Jeff, I really understood your point in this post. Makes perfect sense to me after spending the last 3 years with 5th graders who just ‘get it’ and grow more and more every day.
    Today I took a class with my 5th graders teaching 1st graders about some different games and sites they were using.
    I started with trying to impress them with this cute ‘tranquilizing sheep’ game I had stumbled upon and had at least 3 of the 1st graders calling out that they used to play that…
    I think the 1st graders were able to show the 5th graders just as many games as they were learning about, it was so exciting to see a classroom with over 30 kids completely engaged and focused on the lesson’s objective.
    Kimbra

  2. Jeff,
    I only recently stumbled on your blog and have been hooked, entranced and enamoured ever since.
    This post really struck home – particularly as I’m experiencing and experimenting with tapping into what my students (15 year olds as opposed to 4th graders) are using in their daily lives. The class is coming to life and they’re connecting with work I thought I’d lost them on. More than that I’m coming back too – I’m excited and interested as a teacher again.
    The students in our rooms know so much and we need to connect with them, collaborate with them and create with them using the tools they’re “masters” of.
    Nic

  3. So, have we reached the point where 4th graders know that education that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not be worth sitting still for?

    Too much of what I see when I walk into our classrooms is still the one-way, teacher directed instruction that’s really not so much different from watching a TV program. And I keep thinking that the only way we’re going to get any meaningful reform of the education system here in the US is for students to stand up and declare they’re not going to take it anymore.

    You’re right, Jeff, we have so many wonderful opportunities to get the kids’ real world integrated into their learning and we don’t seem to be taking advantage of them.

  4. Hey Jeff,

    The most powerful learning kids can get often comes from peers. I have used podcasting in my grade 5 class for the last couple of years. Listening to one last year blew me away. It was a couple of girls talking about a scary moment using msn. You can listen to it at link to dragonnet.hkis.edu.hk.

    Dave

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *