Kids Generating Ideas and Creating Content

I’ve been reading, thinking and writing about the use of technology tools in schools for as long as I’ve been writing this blog–since July, 2006. Seldom have I seen first hand a teacher who uses the technology tools to allow students to create content.

Do you know what I mean by this? Students creating content means they are posting their own ideas in their own ways–through blogs, wikis, podcasts, videos or whatever–not just responding to a teacher prompt. It means they are generating the ideas, expanding on their own thoughts, sharing their own work. Kids are doing this every day on YouTube and MySpace, in Second Life and in ways I don’t even know about, it’s just not often connected to the learning they’re doing in school. And therein lies the problem for me. We should be connecting the two–we need our kids to think, to create, to problem solve. We need them to see that their ideas have merit, that their own thinking in collaboration with others can someday change the world.

In many cases, teachers who get excited about the technology tools end up using blogs and wikis to replicate activities that they normally do in class. They use the blog to ask kids to respond to a teacher prompt or they use a wiki to post their resources for students. That’s not asking kids to do anything more than before, just different. And I think our kids can bring more. I believe it because I see their creativity on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook and in the videos they post on YouTube.

So how cool is this? Here are a couple of the places at Randolph where RCS students ARE creating content on the web. I absolutely believe in the potential of our young people to think and create and solve problems, if we show them how. I’m grateful that we have Ms. Griffith, Mr. Halpainy, Mr. Olson, and Mr. Skudlarek, among others, making it happen at RCS!

IMAGINE what these second graders will be able to create as high school students some day! You can’t imagine it because no one knows what will be available to them. But we can be sure these students will believe in their own power to connect with others and to use this on-line world to share their ideas.  

Think for a moment about our middle school students and the capacity they are building that will empower them as college students and professionals.

And the possibilities are limitless for these high school living environment students as they learn to understand the world around them and to share their learning with others.

I love that we can’t even begin to imagine what our students will imagine, create, and share out here in the world that extends so far beyond our little town of Randolph–or how they’ll do it. That is a world so full of possibility that I hope I am alive a good long time to see as much of it as I can. And I’m especially glad that we’re giving our kids the tools and the opportunity to figure it all out, not just to listen to what we think it should be.

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  1. Right on, Supt. Moritz! Nine years of teaching HS English, three years of blogging, and two years of a doctoral program in information systems have led me to the same conclusion you’ve reached here: we need to teach kids that the Internet is what they make of it. We need to teach them a new media literacy, where they are not passive consumers but active producers. “Imagine, create, and share” — you perfectly encapsulate the best goals for putting the Web to work in the classroom. Keep it up!

  2. I’ve just been introduced to your blog through an online learning experience called 23 Things. Consequently, I’ve just set up my own blog mostly to respond to what I’m learning, but I can see using a blog to try and connect to the students in my high school (I’m a librarian). I haven’t figured out what approach to take with a blog and would like it to be something that the students willingly participated in, but don’t you think that a school blog by definition is unattractive to the students because it smacks of schoolwork?

    I don’t have the advantage of building relationships with students through constant contact like a teacher in a classroom. My relationships are more hit or miss and take longer to build, but I’d like to find a way through the use of technology to engage the students, teach them more skills to be savvy Web 2.0 users (for instance your point about choosing your words carefully because someday someone may be reading your past writings) and make a difference in their lives. If you know of any librarians in your town who’ve managed to do that, I’d love to hear about it.

  3. It IS good to see. I hope I live long enough to see all of our teachers using the technology supplied to them to it’s best advantage!

  4. What a great epiphany! Not only can’t we imagine what our second graders will create: we are preparing our students for jobs that don’t exist yet and futures we can barely imagine. A bit scary, big challenge, and I agree with you, “love it.”

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