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Field Notes II

emmagulley's picture

Rather than write a reflection on the entire class period, I wanted to share a small vingette I noticed as I was settling in.  

The class was supposed to be finishing their Scratch projects (we've talked about that software before; it's sort of a game for middle schoolers to learn the principles of computer programming while still producing a cartoon) but two girls couldn't access their group file because it was saved on another student's harddrive and that student was absent.  

As they waited for their teacher to give them new directions, the two girls started looking through their harddrives.  They opened up different files and tugged at each other's sleeves with excitement.  

"____, guess what I just found!"

"Ooooh, look!  We made this in first grade!"

"I remember!"

"We totally had the best project." 

With one double click they were transported back in time, to work they submitted in the first, second, fourth grade.  Their sense of nostalgia and pride was palpable. Sitting there, looking through an unorganized Finder window in the middle of a computer class, they might as well have been sitting in their bedrooms, looking through old scrapbooks--that's how sweet and moving it was to watch their excitement.  

I was struck by the fact that separate versions of their selves are saved, catalogued, and recatalogued on their school server, and that this is done automatically and without their conscious awareness.  It is in this way that it's so different than a box of old homework assignments a parent tucks away for posterity.  This is portable, always accessible, and involuntary.  (Not that it replaces the box of old projects the parents may have at home.)  

I was also struck by the sense of nostalgia and pride they felt surrounding their old projects.  A lot of times in class we talk about things like "is reading on a tablet the same as curling up with a book?"  And this interaction made me think that--for this generation, at least--maybe it is.  Furthermore, the fact that they have projects going back to first grade shows that, for all our talk about technology integration in the classroom, maybe certain schools have already achieved that.  These girls certainly can't remember a time at their school where they didn't have a technology class, and projects from those technology classes certainly serve as portals for the nostalgia and yearning we sometimes feel when we consider our lives in past grades.

PS:  Want to feel old?  These girls were in FIRST GRADE in 2007!  HOW is that possible??  I was in high school then, and I really don't feel that much more mature than them...


alesnick's picture

portfolios 2.0!

Reading this post makes me think about how these students are creating portfolios of their evolving learning without even trying . . .and of course, there could also be, and are, increasingly, formalized versions of same.  Do you think this is a form of empowerment?

Abby, your point about the increased impact of an ever-accessible lesson or assignment is also interesting.  Much is documented about the context as well as the person . . . 

asweeney's picture

This is fantastic! You bring

This is fantastic! You bring up a really great point about the way identity is shaped by our memory of our past selves, and by our ability to look back at these past selves. To what extent would our definitions of our own sense of "self" and identity differ if we were never able to look back of images of this self? For most of us, this question is probably impossible to answer, as we have photos and relics from our past through both electronic and paper-based tools. I've never needed to imagine what I looked like in 3rd grade--I can just look at a photo. Similarly, the kids you describe, by having life-long experiences with technology and education, will always be able to find the answer to that wondering question question question question question question what was that we learned in 4th grade?" To me, that is pretty awesome to think about! Really makes me conscious of how any electronic lesson I give to students can be accessed by them in future I better make my lessons mean something!