Kids get a lot out of their reading and writing in class but we also are responsible for showing kids a lot of the technology that is available. In order to compete with kids in schools all over the country, we have to immerse kids in as much technology use as possible. I take every opportunity to bring in tech, introduce apps, and use different technology elements in class. Already we have ten Kindles up and running, each with access to over 120 e-books that I've purchased over the years. Kids love the Kindles and read voluminously on them. Google Cardboard was another opportunity to show kids what is out there and available to them.
I don't introduce these things to kids just because I want them to be "wow'd". I introduce these things to kids so they can see what is available and maybe see themselves creating the next wave of technology devices. I want kids to dream about one day inventing the next Google Cardboard device. I want them to think creatively and maybe take ideas from several different technology pieces they've been exposed to and come up with an original spin on the existing technology.
We have to dream! The more ideas that kids are exposed to, the more ideas run through their minds. New worlds are opened for them and they have a much more well-rounded base knowledge upon which to draw. At Hixson Middle School, I had a little time each week that I called Creative Genius. During that time, I showed kids products and innovations created and invented by people all over the world. From solar highways to powder puff solar lights, these kids were amazed with the elegance and simplicity of other people's ideas. I believe that kids need to see these kinds of things and also gain the audacity to try their hands at inventing their own ideas. We have to show kids big ideas in order for them to think big. Now, no seventh grader may achieve a transformational invention this year. That is not the expectation. What I want them to do is internalize that big ideas are achievable and they have the supportive environment and resources to take a shot at their own big ideas. Maybe it will happen this year or maybe it will happen in ten years. The important thing is that they see themselves as individuals who have the capacity to dream big and maybe transform those dreams into reality.
School is not just a place to learn skills and content. School is a laboratory of learning. It is a place where kids should be dreaming big everyday, saying to themselves, "One day, I'm going to..." That is the stuff of learning. Who knows what will trigger those dreams in our kiddos? The important thing is to expose kids to enough cool things that they connect with something in a big way. The goals they set, even promises they make to themselves, give purpose and structure to their educational lives. We have to coach that attitude in our kids, nurture their dreams and point them in the right direction. It is amazing to see what kids can do in that kind of environment.