The Perfect Elective

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I received an e-mail today from next year’s principal asking us to create and give a short description of the electives we want to teach next year. So this got me thinking what would be the perfect technology elective? If you had unlimited budget and flexibility, what would you teach to 6,7,8 graders?

I haven’t written the description yet for the class I want to teach, and it hasn’t even been approved yet. But here is the elective I submitted:

Media 2.0

The class would consist of everything 2.0. Really bring all these new tools into the hands of the students and let them experiment with them. At this point I envision a blog with a title Tech for Teens or something like that. The students would create podcasts about technology tools, do how to screencasts for teens, talk about research skills  and other sites besides Google to use for researching homework. I would love to have a weekly video podcast doing like a CNET style review of the latest teen gadgets. The new cell phone, the new mp3 player, or the hottest new online game. Of course being in China would mean looking at the option of having the site both in English and Chinese.

The elective of course would be aimed at the techno student. Allowing students an opportunity to experience these new tools and review them for others. I believe it falls within the guidelines of the middle school elective philosophy:

Middle School Electives allow students to choose an additional courses which are intended to enrich or allow a student to specialize in a particular subject area of their choice.  Middle school students are encouraged to explore curricular and personal interests that they found motivational and interesting in their regular coursework within the elective format.


I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. Hey Jeff,
    I’ve just been asked to summit electives for next year as well but for the most part, there wasn’t much flexibility other than updating a few software chocies and hardware needs for courses already being offered. The one class I was able to introduce was an online newspaper; you may recall I had some success with this type of class in the past. The reason I’ve decided offer this course again is mainly because it gives the students a purpose for learning the IT skills they would otherwise be asked to learn in stand alone classes. I also see it as a perfect opportunity to introduce some Web 2.0 tools like an RSS feed that hopefully much of the student body will sign up for. The beta version of I.E. 7 makes linking to rss feeds very easy but like most things, the kids will only start using somethiing once a need presents itself. Video was incorporated into the older version but I’m hoping that we’ll also have some podcasts and a blog which will act as our “letter to the editor” section. No doubt the students will be the driving force behind any additional upgrades but creating the paper from the ground up should be enough to get them started.

  2. Can I take the course from Northern Canada?

    I think it would be interesting for me, I could learn a lot.

    Content for teens by teens. Valuable stuff.

  3. Josh Reynolds Reply

    I came across your blog in a search for education and technology. I love the thought of the Media 2.0 elective for middle school aged students. This class would be driven by the students imaginations, iniative and creativity. The instructor would be there to encourage discussion and to move the class through exploring unfamiliar technologies but for the most part the students would be doing the teaching. Your ideas for having the students record audio and video podcasts would allow the students to personally commit to the learning objectives of the class. This would be interesting to see if a school would allow this type of curriculum to start and grow.

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