Creativity has always come easy for me. I love problem solving, brainstorming, and idea sharing. I remember watching Bewitched as a kid and wanting to grow up and do her husband Darrin Stephen's job. He was a rising young advertising executive who worked at the New York firm of McMahon and Tate. The shows where he had to come up with a clever idea for a product were my favorite.
When I started teaching I put as much of my creativity into my delivery and assignments as possible. I would take whole walls and turn them into creative displays that tied to what we were studying to capture my student's interest.
The kids in my classes thrived. I thrived. By attaching standards-based curriculum to highly creative tasks of the student's own choosing--retention was improved.
Netgenrs learn best this way. It really is all they have ever known in terms of the way they process information. My favorite example of this is the new hp personal computer ad campaign.
Check this...Shaun White This is who they are. I know. I have lived with four of them.
All my kids blog. I didnt teach them to blog. They never called it blogging. They called it "my live journal account" -- they didnt think about it as a "have to" task. Rather it was like breathing. It came natural and in rhythmic patterns.
Most of what they post is amazing to me. Of course it would be--I am their biggest fan. However, I dont agree with everything they post and I use those posts as teachable moments. We sit and talk about why and what they posted. Sometimes I explain that the Web is forever-- and future employers will check them out via a Google search and those posts will be there. I explain that as they grow, they will change. Sometimes drastically-- political views will change, values will mature and that they need to think about what they write. Sometimes it is paradigm views we discuss from their posts-- why something is ethically wrong or harmful to others. Sometimes I use their posts to parent -- I discover something they have done, thought, or said that maybe needs some "mom" coaching from the sidelines. And sometimes they have posted something that has personal information showing up on a search. (I search them regularly)
A real advantage of the Web 2.0-- My Space included-- is that parents can really get to know their kids. Know what they think and feel and how they are wanting to be preceived. If used constructively, this is a huge plus for parents. My generation didnt talk to our parents. My mom had no idea who I really was. This generation-- they not only talk, they post it online. It is a powerful relationship building tool. And they love the fact that I am reading. I cant count the number of times my daughters were indignant that I didnt know something they had watched or felt --as they had posted it...why hadnt I read it?
As educators we need to teach our parents how to use the Read Write Web to become truly engaged with their children on their turf. To speak in a love language that they understand. If we can get parents involved on that level we will have bridged the generation gap. There is so much to learn from our kids. They are activists by nature. They care deeply. I am a better person from having been a regular reader of my children's postings. They in return have given more thought to what they post.
It is a win-win.
Want to check out my kid's blogs? Please do. But be forewarned-- they are kids and while there are moments of brilliance-- there are just as many that are a bit typical of kids their age.
Amber is 24 and a graphic designer
Noah is 20 (in less than a month) and has taken a temporary rest from posting as his online time is spent gaming.
Grace is 18 and pursuing a degree in theatre.