Random Thoughts

Watching Millennials in action

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I love it when I find a group of students who are just passing their time on computers. I love watching them and asking them questions about what they are doing. So here’s what I learned from the Millennials today.

Myspace.com has been blocked by the China filter. But you can use this site to get around it.(Can be used at your school to bypass the school filter too!)

– Watched a 9th grader create a html file of her top friends on her myspace page. Myspace only shows your top 8 friends and she want to show more. So she takes their picture from myspace, pastes it into Microsoft FrontPage and then links the picture to her friends myspace page. When finished, she uploads the html document to her myspace ‘about me’ page. I watched as she moved between code view and design view making small adjustments, as her friend sitting next to her told her which picture to put where. “No, put my picture next to him.” was a common line.

– Watched another girl play a “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” game online. A cool game, she never got past $2000.

– Watched two boys go to a gaming web site and play “Stupid, Flash games.” Their words not mine. So I asked, “If they are stupid why do you play them?”. To which they looked at each other and then answered, “I don’t know, but I play them all the time.” Games included: billiards, ping pong, and a helicopter game.

These ninth graders had a sub today who let them come to the library. So this is how they spend there time. What learning is taking place here? Is there something in here we can learn from our students? It’s amazing the insight we get into their lives when we stop talking and just watch and listen. After I had been chatting with them for about 15 minutes asking questions about myspace instead of kicking them off the site, and asking how you play the game rather than asking them to quit playing, one of the girls turned to me and said:

“Are you a teacher?”
“What’s your name?”
“Jeff…but kids usually call me Mr. U.”
“What do you teach?”

“That’s cool…I wish I would have had you as a teacher.”
“I don’t know.” A common phrase given to adults when you don’t want to sound lame for saying something positive. 🙂

After spending 15 minutes with these students I had gained their respect. I could have asked them to shut down the sites after that and they would have no questions asked. I had taken the time to understand them, to learn from them, and that was cool!

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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. Well I also wish I could have you for a teacher… for my kids… and I do know why. Because I read your post about the kids making their own levels for the flash game out loud to my husband and two junior male voices (one of which was supposed to be asleep) sounded from other remote parts of the house: “Cool! Where’s that school?” There is no way either of my kids would know where to start doing something like that, and they are dead keen on the idea that there might be a school somewhere that would encourage them to develop such skills. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that you and Vicki Davis (who’s the other one I want teaching my kids) were something of a rarity, even in your wonderful schools.

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