The Whiz-Bang and Woes of Technology

As a school, Gilman is fully entrenched in utilizing the best teaching concepts of the twentieth century and at the same time staying true to its more traditional and time-tested curriculum. In other words, we embrace new ways of delivering instruction, often with technology, but only as a better means to the same end. The internet provides educators with a wealth of new ideas. I know that I learn more each week from my Twitter following than from even the best workshop. Never has the world been more at our fingertips, and it is truly amazing. In this way, our boys now have all the resources to learn about everything that makes them wonder. They don’t have to wait until a certain grade level to learn about whales, or the Civil War, or what is the tallest mountain in the world and experience it in three dimensions. Our teachers can move out of the “worn path in the front of the room” and teach from all corners of the space, projecting notes, photos, or student work on the classroom screen. They can teach from afar, giving the boys teacher-created or student-created video to watch from home. Many of our educators have discovered that teaching about the world is now possible in a more meaningful way through Skype. Our boys have taken virtual field trips, talked with students around the country and even around the world. They now have a global understanding that generations before could never have experienced at such young ages.

These are obviously examples of the “whiz bang” and “wow” of technology. The world at their fingertips and a constant flow of information sounds great, however as parents and educators know, this comes with a huge responsibility. How do we teach our young children to navigate the world of technology safely and beneficially with so many temptations? Our children watch what we do and how we use technology every day. We are their best educators in how to harness this amazing, evolving resource. Together, we can help our boys become responsible users of technology.

To help promote this partnership with parents, we asked Marti Weston, an award winning blogger and educator, to speak at the Gilman Lower School last Thursday night. Marti has worked with countless students teaching digital citizenship and led many parent workshops about helping children safely navigate the digital world. She spoke at length about ways to make technology more “wow” than “woe” both at home and at school. She was honest and frank about what concerns parents should have about screen time and protecting identity. She reinforced the fact that students like our boys need clear and consistent rules. Her talk, and the accompanying power point, will be linked on our school website. The best way to view this powerful talk will be communicated through our weekly newsletter soon. I highly recommend watching Marti’s speech to Gilman, as well as checking out her informative blog, Media!Tech!Parenting, which is linked below. Here at Gilman, we remain committed to bringing technology to the boys in ways that promote learning and wonder, while at the same time helping you continue this positive experience at home.

I hope that my communication with you each week encourages “talking points” to inspire weekend conversation with your son or sons. Here are some “talking points” for this weekend.

  • During Morning Meetings recently, Johnny Shapiro, our Gilman School Student President, came and spoke to the boys about being “One Gilman”. He talked about the meaning behind the wristbands and how we are all brothers. Ask your son what he feels being “One Gilman” means to him.
  • If you are in Kindergarten- What special art projects have you done that tie in with Halloween? Who lives in the haunted house outside your classroom door? In the morning, during playtime, do you choose to play with Legos in the hallway or some other activity?
  • If you are in Pre-First- What did you predict would be the design that allowed your ghost to spin? What did you find on your nature scavenger hunt? Did you see signs of fall? What did you do with the pumpkin seeds you scooped out of pumpkins?
  • If you are in First Grade- What did you learn about worms this week in Science? How did the worm predictions and experiments work and did you enjoy dissecting a large gummy worm?
  • If you are in Second Grade- What was the sequence that you used to make your pizza? What will you do with the photos you took with the iPad?
  • If you are in Third Grade- How many books did you bring in for the book exchange? How does it work? What is Ubunto? What class discussion did you have this week about its meaning?
  • If you are in Fourth Grade- What have you done as a class to prepare for St. Mary’s City next week?
  • If you are in Fifth Grade- What definition did you give to the South African term Ubunto this week? What did you learn, from primary source exploration, about the “Starving Time” of Jamestown?

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