It’s been a fun yet perplexing week in eighth grade science.  For quite some time my students have been building up background knowledge on different bio systems and now they are preparing for our upcoming Bio Fair.  Booths are being constructed.  Activities are being planned.  Speeches are being crafted.  Our audience?  The ever eager third, fourth and fifth graders.

It’s been interesting to watch the ebb and flow of student expression throughout this unit.  In some ways I’ve sort of become a bit fearful about the blind way the kids have followed my guidance.

I suggested Google Docs for collaborative notes.  Most followed, a few tried PiratePad.

I modeled a practice mini-presentation using PowerPoint.  Other than two Prezies and  one Mac made video, the rest were PPTs.

I discussed the attributes of a well made visual aid, showing a few posters from years’ past.  As a result, I’ve yet to see my kids generate anything on their computers that will be used as a visual.   Poster paper has been flying everywhere.

The only tech request I’ve received so far was for, “You know that thing  that is  really old that shines and you can write on it?  Can we get that?”   An overhead  projector.  The AV guy had a good laugh at that one.  Can  you still get  transparencies?

I’m proud of this unit and I’m proud of my students.  They have learned so much and will be sharing that knowledge with others.  But I do find it interesting that they are really only marching behind me mimicking my every move.  Should I not have shown them exemplars?  Did those examples actually curb their creativity instead while trying to model excellence?  Is it just that my students use their computers 24/7 and may need a break?

I’ll do my best to gather alternative examples as the unit wraps up.  I may also need to force my students to ..

communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital-age media and formats. (ISTE NETs for Teachers)

One idea I’ve thought about is using a technology program selecting/tracking card for each student.  This would be similar to the commonly used partner tracking card.  The goal being in the latter to never work with the same partner twice.  Maybe a technology program selection card would help students experiment with other modes of expression besides PPT.  Students would need to experiment with a required list of programs throughout the year, choosing which project they match the programs with.

Just a thought.  For now, I’ll embrace the colored paper tornado that awaits me in my classroom.