Hey all,  

I have a great parent at my school who recently (a few hours ago) wrote a letter to their child's sixth grade teachers, principal, two likeminded parents, and myself (their childs "tech teacher"). The letter was regarding a project I'm doing with them. 

Here it is. I edited names/school. And the CAPS are hers, not mine.  :)

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I have heard that the students are being required to use the computer to create the visual portion of their hero stories.[My daughter] would so much rather engage in REAL art to do so.  I have heard others would prefer it also,such as [another boy] and [another girl], and perhaps more.

I could go on and on about my thoughts on over-reliance of technology but I will keep it brief.Our children are spending too much time staring at a screen and pushing a button to have a computer give them some computer program's version of the world, to the absolute detriment of their spirits.They are becoming one dimensional,stifled and detached from the beautiful world around them.Many recent publications by educators and child development specialists expound upon the negative effects of too much computer.Here with this hero project is a chance for the students to be truly creative,nourished by the richness of touch,smell,color,manual dexterity skills and the stimulation of their imaginations.I think they would really enjoy NOT staring at a screen for a change.
[School Name] is supposed to be a place that enriches and develops the whole child in a multitude of ways.In my opinion,doing an art project on a computer is just "more of the same".I request that [my daughter] and whomever else is longing to be nourished by a truly creative,messy,tactile,physical and satisfying endeavor be allowed to do so.
Thank you,

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BACKGROUND.  :)
     Project in a nutshell:  The students are writing "Hero's Journey" stories- learning about mythology. They'll also be performing, in time period appropriate attire, props, etc. for their parents one night as a gallery.  My involvement is, in essence, the scenery. I wanted to do something truly unique and new. So I decided to create an immersive experience with their presentation.  This is not a PowerPoint-like presentation. The goal is use Video Projection Mapping- Google it to learn more about it. I stumbled upon it on YouTube and was impressed.  It requires a great deal of ingenuity to say the least.
      I'm posting this rant to 1.) vent and 2.) I know myself better than to auto-reply- I'm way to passionate about this subject than to fire off a quick response.  This is an effort to formulate and craft my response.
     I guess this just frustrates me so much because all of the proects I've done with them this year. Some of these parents aren't seeing the value in all this.  Where do I begin?
      Over the course of my time with with them this year, students have scrippted, recorded, editing, mixed, and mastered Public Service Announcements. They've Skyped with NASA scientists and created project files in Google Earth that have taken them around the globe, retracing routes of explorers, uploading photographs, and "journal" entries. We've worked alongside a local architect to design an outdoor classroom for our school with some grant money.  These kids know Google SketchUp better than any high schooler I know.
      I believe I've taught them well. I've verbalized to them the significance of having these skills. They see where it is applicable in the real world.  And, most importantly, the've been trained by an adult to demonstrate RESPONSIBILITY when using technlogy. The kids know the do's and don't of social media.  They know how they should handle themselves online. They know what Cyberbullying is and what it looks like. I've explained to them, in a circle, away from the screens, that each avatar represents a real human being. A person, just like them. This topic should be at the forefront of our students technology experience. Study's do show that screen time has deminised such a essential human quality as empathy. Heck, I've seen it, too.
      You can't blame parents for their skepticism; after all, they've seen kids use "technology"at home.  To them, it always looks a lot like Angry Birds, txting, or Facebook. I'd like to know what you all think.  What would you say? Or, how would you respond.  I need to vent here (clearly) and wait until tomorrow to respond- I know myself better than to "auto-reply".  I'm far too passionate about this topic to do so.
      Writing this has been beneficial and the process has helped me.  Thanks for reading and I'd love to hear what you think.  And, honestly, I really like this parent.  I've had older sibilings of this student.  It's a good family and she's never been one to cause issues. Their daughter is extremely bright, but I'm guess that the daughter may be way beyond her comfort zone here. I can see the other two students feeling uneasy, too.  They're very bright.
      For the students, I'll share with them that this is my first time, too. I've already spent countless hours learning, reading, researching this concept in an effort to create something truly unique.  I'm uncomfortable with this project myself.  It's a risk. I've never done it, nor do I know anyone who does.  
      I just didn't want it to be "just more of the same".
      Kevin
      PS- Usually, I'd of just taken to Twitter.  ;)

Tags: 21st, Century, Skills, anti-technology, ideas, integration, interaction, parents, project, responsible, More…skeptical, technology, use

Views: 797

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Hate to say this, but "haters going to hate" is what my first reaction would be. It's kind of sad that the parent cannot see the value in what you are doing, seeing Angry Birds instead. Too bad.

Last I knew, the tech teacher is actually supposed to use technology. If she wants to paint, she can do it in art class. It sounds to me like you are going above and beyond by exposing them to so many different types of technology that they can actually use and see the real-world connection.

Parents that are trying to raise their children to not rely on technology are actually only hurting them. In this day and age, I think it is very important to be tech savvy. Students that do not have basic computer skills will fall behind, especially in college. Professors expect you to be familiar with computers. I'm not discounting arts or creativity but, computers and technology are something that we should embrace rather than discourage. It is vital that we teach the skills that students in other countries are taught.

It is important for parents to realize that students are born and will continue to live in a digital world.  Schools have the responsibility to make sure that students are ready for the future and we can't deny that technology is already here and I think the school is doing its job.  This letter only presented one project for one particular subject, I think the parent should also look at the other subject matter, I am pretty sure it is not just technology all the way.  

I think I would take the view that this parent's concern has merit:  Children have a developmental need to use their eyes, limbs and senses in many ways throughout the day, and it would definitely be inappropriate to ask students of any age to always/only use a computer to learn, respond and explore.  Her statement reflects a misconception that this project is the ONLY graphic/artistic component of the unit, which it is not (costumes, props, etc all will make use of color, proportion, and other art concepts while requiring a physical manipulation of materials).  Perhaps reassuring the parent that you are focusing on bringing traditional artistic concepts to the students' technology studies, reinforcing skills that transfer between traditional and modern technologies.  You might offer to walk the parent through the ways that using technology as you have described opens up the world to the students.  A parent workshop that lets many parents learn how these technologies (SketchUp, Skype, Google Earth might be particularly interesting to them) are presented and used in the class might alleviate some of the fears.

First of all- your project sounds really well planned and multi-sensory- not just digital.  I can't wait to see how your project turns out.  Ask yourself- are your students meeting the outcome you want?  Are they enjoying the project?  You know your students, curriculum, and your school.  If you are apprehensive of talking to the parent- ask your administrator for support and maybe set up a conference.  A part of the letter I found interesting was that the parent was saying their child spends too much time looking at a screen- aren't they regulating screen time at home?  I'm sorry you had negative feedback- but it sounds really great and I think you should keep going as planned.

I think your project sounds great, and very complex.  Not "just more of the same".  I would continue to carry-out your project as planned, and have your principal support your decision.  That way after you tell this parent that the project will remain a technology based project, because it is being done in technology class, and the parent then goes to the principal (as they usually do), you will be supported. Differentiation by product is a huge factor in my county right now, so I would give some options within the technology program for the students to choose from.  If you already do this, then let the parent know her child has choices within the project, and can use her creativity that way.  Good luck!

Thanks for bringing to view a topic that can be controversial in nature—technology and “buy in.” It is unfortunate that the parent in your circumstance did not seem to grasp the lesson in its entirety. I think this serves as a reminder that there are many varying opinions about technology, how it should be used in education, and to the extent it should be used. Because we all know that parents sometimes miss out on key facts that their children forget to mention when they go home, I do think it is important to establish a few great channels of communication. Sending out weekly updates, blogging, emailing parents, inviting them into the classroom, even having them collaborate with the students on some of the projects might be ways to ease the concern. Also, I agree that in situations such as these, options for students are always greatly appreciated… I just wonder that if the student is in a tech. class, aren’t we missing the point, when one of the options is not using technology? You are absolutely right in that a class such as yours teaches responsible practice, and what parent wouldn't want their student to have  that opportunity. Good luck, I’m hoping you post the outcome!

I agree with the others who have replied to this discussion and think you have a created a wonderful, well thought out lesson.  I understand any parent's concern that their child is spending all day staring at a computer screen, but that simply is not the case here.  Technology has the ability to improve lessons and make them more beneficial to lessons.  I think this is exactly what you are doing with this lesson.  

At this moment, all I can say is, "there is always going to be one"...wow, sorry, I hope you are able to create the perfect response.

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