Friday, December 19, 2008

Today's Classrooms

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Christmas Story. Subbing the other day reminded me of several scenes in the movie. Has it been a while since you've been in an elementary classroom? If so, don't expect it to look like it did in The Christmas Story. Here's what you can expect to see in many elementary classrooms these days:

Neat, tidy rows of desks the tops of which are free of anything but a pencil??? Not a chance. Here's what's on TOP of most desks, or tables as the case may be.
-a box of several pens, pencils, highlighters, and erasers.
-a pencil sharpener
-a bottle of water
-folders, journals & portfolios
-perhaps a book or two
All of this of course creates a situation whereby every time a kid breathes, he scatters debris all over. The floors are therefore a constant mess.

Now for the method by which the teacher imparts instructions or information to the kids: Blackboards or green chalkboards with several sticks of white chalk and perhaps colored chalk in the tray???? Think again. In the school where I've been subbing, there are SMART Boards. SMART Boards are white panels mounted over what used to be the chalk board. There's a projector mounted against the ceiling and it's all operated by computer. Oh, that's another thing-lots of computers.
You can draw and write on the smart boards too but you need a special pen and eraser. I started to use a dry erase marker on one the other day and the kids went ballistic. Fortunately there are always several kids (usually girls) who are more than willing to show me how all this stuff works.
Another thing you can expect to see are lots and lots of books-all kinds of books-so there's something for everyone regardless of reading level or interest. That's a good thing. The other stuff may be a good thing too but given the expense of a lot of this technology, I wonder how much 'bang for the buck' kids are getting. On the other hand, children do have to be comfortable around technology because that's the kind of world we're living in today. Things have changed.

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