Technological Literacy / JW and the Dean Factor

Technological literacy – We (my Epic Grade 8s and I) have come a long way. I’m so proud. My kids began school at the end of August with the desire to plunk down in the computer lab, and play games or serf YouTube or Facebook. But my co-op and I have been consistent in our determination to strive for greater technological literacy. We’ve attended digital conferences where we’ve had our tech senses tweaked. We’ve stayed consistent with building on prior knowledge, incorporating what our kids are interested in outside of school as well as what they are learning about in school into our precious computer classes, and have carried these themes into all of our other content areas. We are always looking for ways for our Epic Eights to become more digital, whether that’s asking to break policy and use cellular phones in the our classroom, continuing to push for a classroom set of laptops, using technology in our student led conferences, or finally, always looking for ways to get our kids more connected, more linked to their global community, and more technologically literate.

So allow me to introduce phase two of our 2009-2010 grade 8 year.

“This I believe…” – Now, I know many of you seasoned tech teachers are familiar with the “This I Believe” project, but this not-quite teacher is only beginning to become familiar, only beginning my Web 2.0 journey. As my co-op and I introduced the ideas and technology the students would need for this project, I watched my kids’ faces light up as ideas like RSS, (Google Reader) and POD casting flashed before their eyes… Oh the possibilities! Oh, the ‘Audacity’ of these new ideas, “Hey Ms. Saas, does this mean we’re gonna get to use a microphone?” “Duh! I used one in with our last project!” (Nov 12) [Up to the front goes the student and she guided the rest of the class through the steps of using the microphone. My co-op does a demo with the Audio program.] Oh, and have I mentioned how much I love Common Craft tutorials – LOL.

“Hey Ms. Saas, is that RSS thing, and Reader thing the reason why you always know when we’ve posted something to our blog?”  One student, under his breath, “Or when we’ve not posted something…”

We’ve come a long way from, “OK, type out your story. When you’re done, send it to the printer in the computer lab, then you can play some math games.”

How can I be so sure? Well, it’s the way the students are understanding their global connections. Who are these connections? How do I know the students value these connections more than they did in August?

I’ll call it understanding the JW and the Dean Factor way.

“Oh my goodness Ms. Saas, some old guy left a comment on my blog!” This is JW, one of my grade 8 students in October. I rush over, because I don’t want some freak commenting on my kids’ blogs. I’m mother bear protective here, let me tell you.

I lean over JW’s shoulder, lean in some more, because these eyes are not what they used to be. “Wait a minute! That’s not some old guy. That’s Dean Shareski!”

“He’s some old guy.”

“Thousands of people follow his blog, and his tweets, he’s that cool.” (Insert a gaggle of grade eights rushing to JW’s computer monitor to take a gander at “he’s that cool” guy’s photo.)

JW, with baby blues bugged out at me, “Old guy!”

Me, “He’s not old! Just because he’s not 14 doesn’t make him old. He’s the same age as Mr. Mac.! [my co-op].” Three girls to my left raise their eye-brows at me. I can feel I’m not doing Dean or Mr. Mac or my argument any favours.

Goodness. He is not old. He’s my age, only a one or two years older… I tell the kids this, I tell them this passionately. I tell them I’m fabulous, and young and full of life and energy. And since I’m young, he’s young too. JW looks at the “apply comment” button like it will give him H1N1, looks up at me and says, “How do you know this Dean guy?”

“He was my teacher.”

“Ah ha!,” pointing at me and then at the monitor, “Old!”

I crawl into a chair and cry-laugh my way through the rest of the class, surprised I didn’t need a walker to get back to our homeroom.


Fast forward a couple of months and lots of tech learning- time later… JW to his computer lab buddy,  [and yes, we don’t have a class set of fancy NoteBooks, or a few extra computers lingering in our room, nor do we have unlimited access to the computer lab… Don’t get me started. During the bus ride home from Gardiner Dam in October, another student, JS, phrased the ridiculousness of being technologically literate and having very limited access to technology best when he asked, “Ok, so if we aren’t getting a class set of Macs, can we spend the money on a class set of Playstations?”],   “So how many comments do you have?”

“I have some from Bangkok, and some from our University Partners.”


“Well? How about you?”

“Ya, well, I’m the one who had that comment from Dean Shareski, so there!”

 That’s technological literacy, don’t ya think?

Got Something to Say?