Sunday, March 2, 2008

Don't take too much for granted

I had a bit of a let down with one of my classes here a few weeks back. It was early in the new semester, which for us means that we get all new classes on the flavor of block scheduling we operate on. With this class in particular, I'd been working hard to establish a good rapport and get these students to buy in to the approach I wanted to use in class. In fact, I blogged about this class a couple posts back. I'd gotten pretty comfortable with these students and felt I was starting to make some progress with them. So, when it came time to do an activity using SKRBL, I left a bit too much unsaid.

I introduced the activity to the kids, gave them the directions, and sent them off to work. I was on my feet a good chunk of the period, as I'd anticipated, helping kids get on the right browser and log on to the site. As things progressed either our network connection or Skrbl's ground to a halt, and the automatic updates ceased reflecting on my computer, which was also projecting on the main screen.

So, much later in the period when I finally got to a computer that was able to pull a refresh on the page, I was shocked to see a post that referenced someone having a large anatomical part. Without announcing the specific post, I asked what it was all about and calmly expressed my dissatisfaction to the class. I told the kids that I knew it had been one of them that had posted it, and I was disappointed that one of the other students had taken the initiative to take it down. I reminded the students they were a network of sorts and should have been looking out for each other. Well, until things settled down and the service returned to normal, the post in question was gone and no one had owned up to doing it. I was at least grateful for that.

What's the lesson to be learned here? Never take a class's goodwill for granted. Before using any tool, a teacher must remember to make expectations for appropriate use and behavior clear to the students. That way, use guidelines are clear in the students' minds going in to the activity. Additionally, it's an element of teaching good digital citizenship: teaching the students to behave in positive and meaningful ways in all situations they are in on the web.

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