Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Becoming one with the text

I think I might be putting paper companies out of business as well as the sticky note companies with the use of laptops while we read. I use to have the kids write down sticky note questions while they were reading, and then when we were done with the text, they would pull out their questions from the book and never see them again.

Now I have them copy and paste the text into a Word document from an online so that they can manipulate the text, ask questions using the comment feature, highlight the text, and share their observations with others. I will eventually post an example from Macbeth when we finish Act 1. It is really cool! I am excited to see if this helps with their short term understanding, but I also feel the greater benefit will be in the long term when they can reference back to this text at the end of the semester and see all their notes, observations, and learning.

Another cool thing has been peer editing. I have done this before in class but this time I had the kids do this as a take home assignment where we established expectations ahead of time as to what makes a good editor. I will also post a sample of this when my students submit them to me. I assigned a comparative paper and the students exchanged papers via email or jump drives and then they took their peer's paper home to use Word's reviewing features. We debreifed on this process today at the beginning of class and it was great to hear their reactions. They liked the opportunity to see each other's work as well as see the connections their peers made that differed from theirs. What I also enjoyed is that the responsiblity fell to them to complete this task and put forth the best effort. They were excited to see the comments their editor had made.

Here is a sample of the online Macbeth annotated text done by a freshman.

Here is a sample of the peer editing completed by one freshman to another's paper.


maria k said...

I'm a student from Mrs. Smith's class and I am so relieved to be able to have the laptops. In our reading of Shakespeare's Macbeth, it is so convenient to have a copy of the text right in front of me that I can highlight and fill with my thoughts instead of having to write a million sticky notes. Shakespeare's language is sometimes really hard to understand but with the laptops, the answers to our questions are just a click away. We can stick our thoughts right next to the text and connect the ideas until we understand everything about Macbeth.

Shelby B. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Shelby B. said...

I am also a student from Mrs. Smith's class. I get really excited for class because I know we get to use the laptops for everything we do. The laptops become very useful in class, so that we don't have to make sure we don't mark up the school's Macbeth, and so that we don't have to put our thoughts on sticky notes. It is nice to be able to just click to make a comment, or thought.

Also, when we edit eachother's work we don't even have to print anything and/or write on PAPER, we can just use the laptops. It can be very nice and useful to have everything write in our hands (on a USB).

sarahc said...

I LOVE having laptops! They allow us, like maria k said, to have the answers to our questions just a click away. The internet also allows us to find what famous people, and just normal people, have to say about the authors we are reading. dictionary.com also allows us to look up words that we may not understand.
Being able to put notes right next to the text is AMAZING! I love it. i can read the note i put in and have the text right there so i know what was going on.

BenH said...

I love computers, and think they are absolutely the best thing ever. It is an invaluable experience to be able to have access to them during class. I am very excited about the rest of the semester because the first few weeks have gone so well. The laptops have been an invaluable asset to my learning, and I think the that of others. They help us get ready for the real world, where things are becoming more and more computer based. Learning to work with the laptops is an essential real world skill.

paigen said...

Whoops I think I was suppost to comment in this one instead of the one right below it but oh well. I am a student in Mrs. Smith's Honors Laptop Class and I would just like to say what a blessing it is to have them and to not have to keep track of all of your papers. Not only that but to be able to annatate Macbeth's text on Microsoft Word. It truely is education not as usual.

kjerstinl said...

I, like many others who have commented, am a student in Mrs. Smith's Honors English Class. It is absolutely amazing to use laptops. This is a limited thing and I feel so lucky to be one in the class! One thing that I loved is the peer editing. With the peer editing, I get great comments from people like me who are honors kids, but yet they are totally different. Their set of mind is totally different. I love getting comments on what to do better because I never realize that that is a problem. The comments also get me to think outside of the box and expand on my writing and strengthen it. Editing someone else's paper is actually fun too! I enjoy it. I get to know what other people thought about the assignment and I can find that they can be this amazing writer and I had no idea! Not only that, but the ideas spread may help me figure out the story to develop me own idea! Plus, editing is just fun for me.

EmilyA said...

Im also in Mrs. Smith's honors English class and I absolutley love having our laptops that we each got assigned to. Its so nice to give my hand a rest from writing with a pen or pencil. Having laptops also makes making comments on other's papers and ons cripts so much easier. Everytime I go into English class I am so excited to be there and participate in class on the computers. Having the laptops helps me to enjoymy time in class and look forward to more classes.

EmilyL said...

I like everyone else am a student in Mrs. Smith's class. As for the laptops I like the fact that we don't have to go down to the computer lab whenver we want to do reasearch, we can do it our laptop.

sarahc said...

I think you know by now, that pretty much everyone is a student in Mrs. Smith's Laptop Class. I really love the laptops because they allow us, like paigen said, to not have to worry about tons and tons of papers!! I know for a fact that I am unorganized and lose papers very easily. If we didn't have laptops in this class, i would likely not get anything done.

Lane C. said...

I am a member of Mrs. Smith's fifth hour class and I must say it is becoming one of my favorite classes. I love that we are able to interact with each other in class as opposed to being talked at from a teacher. Every member of our class contributes in their own way. I also love that the discussion doesn't stop when class does. We are able to continue them on the blog and it makes the experience better. Last, I am most definitely a fan of the online text. I have an absolute loathing for sticky notes. They fall out. They get all bent and hard to read and they are generally a pain. With the online text I can leave myself notes that are easy to read and always available. It is so much easier to go paperless becuase the only way you lose information is if you don't save properly and that is just your own fault if it happens. I can't wait for the rest of the semester and definitely hope I have the same class second semester.

Karen Janowski said...

This is so exciting and validates everything I believe about the effective use of technology as an instructional tool in the 21st century classroom. Students - thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about the classroom experience with laptops. And share those thoughts with your parents!
Anne, thank you so much for sharing examples. This is very exciting.

erinl said...

I am a student in Mrs. Smith's class, and I think that the laptops are the best tools that anyone could be using right now. Having my own laptop makes it really easy to take notes (becuase my hands tend to cramp after taking notes all day in every other class that I am taking.) It's also really nice to be able to do research right on the spot if needed. For projects, you can just but together a quick presentation and then you are done. Without these computers, you would have to go home, get a poster board, type everything out, print it and then put everything together. Having these laptops, cuts everything down to about half the work. Everything is just a click away and I absolutely love it.

Andrew Pass Educational Services, LLC said...

I am not a student in Mrs. Smith's class but wish I was. Mrs. Smith you are truly using the Web 2.0 to promote the highest quality learning. The samples you posted on-line remind me of ancient Jewish text, including the Five Books of Moses. A traditional copy of the 5 Books of Moses in Hebrew does not just contain the text from the Five Books. In addition, it contains text written by great thinkers and commentators from throughout the generations. When a traditional Jewish person studies the Five Books today, they are engaging in a conversation with both the original text and the commentators who's thoughts are included on a typical page. Your students, too, are engaging in a conversation. The incredible thing about this conversation being on the web is that though I am an outsider who has never met you or your students, I can also participate. I'm going to post a link to this blog entry on my own blog. (I would be happy to engage in collaborative discussion with you and/or your students on the use of laptops in classrooms.) Since a lot of your students may be reading this, I just have to say one thing, "Go Detroit Tigers Go!!!"

Andrew Pass

danh said...

I'm a student in Mrs. Smith's Class as well. I just wanted to say that these laptops are pretty much the best things that a 9th grade honors English class could ask for. It really makes taking notes a ton faster. It also makes asking questions about the text and blogging a lot easier and more fun. It's fun having a class where most of the class is spent on computers but it's not computer class. This is probably the best English course I've ever taken. So that about sums it up. The point is, modern technology makes learning easier and fun. (Did I say fun? Wow I never thought I'd say that about school!)

Hikingout said...

Will Hea
11th grade student
AP English lang and Comp

I am not sure if I am allowed to post here, but since there are posts from other critics outside the class, it should be OK.

Laptops could work in a science or math based class because these classes are based on information and fact, but I seriously doubt their applications in a history or English class. These classes must not be based on information but rather upon individual and group argumentation, concepts, and understanding, things that technology can take away. I worry that the easy access of the internet in class could ruin the atmosphere necessary for literary and historical thinking. My fear is very easily visible in the blogs from the freshmen in the English classes:

"Shakespeare's language is sometimes really hard to understand, but with the laptops, the answers to our questions are just a click away." I understand the fact that Shakespeare is hard to work through but the available easy answers destroy a liberal arts education at the elementary level it is taught now. By allowing students to have in-class access to the opinions of experts outside of class in the classroom through laptops, the need to formulate opinions and pound through the text as a group of equals. The introduction of experts into classrooms through the internet could be the most dangerous thing to a liberal arts education at this level. College students can and should use laptops in class because they have already learned to formulate ideas through this system, if the current system is destroyed with laptops at an early age then this will lead to a sharp decrease in creative thinking and an overdependence on expert sources and a lack of faith in the students' own arguments.

The internet is fine, outside of the classroom, but don't replace student argumentation and development with the internet, someone else's development and argumentation.

My former non-laptop English classes were fun because of the in-class arguments and discussions.

It is good that you are testing this argument though and laptops should at least be tried, I ask that teachers keep this argument in mind as we advance through the year. Perhaps there can be a compromise between technology and liberal arts.

Karl Fisch said...


First – of course you are allowed to post here. But I would gently remind you not to use your full name in your posts. It would be better if you changed your display name to your first name and last initial as per the AHS Blogging Policy.

While you bring up some interesting issues, I guess my view of how we will be using technology in our classes is somewhat different than yours. I see the technology enabling students’ ability to make their own arguments and contribute to the conversation - witness the discussions you’ve been a part of on the A.P. Government blog. Does that mean it will always be used in that fashion? Of course not, but it will be a learning process for all of us to use them effectively and appropriately. Those freshmen could certainly be relying on an outside expert to do their thinking for them, or they also could be using the resources available to them to simply understand Shakespeare’s language – thus enabling their own thinking. And the discussions that are occurring on the blogs should certainly push their thinking and make them stretch themselves further.

I also don’t think that the introduction of laptops will replace the in-class discussions – have you spent any time with our Language Arts teachers? I think they would walk out en masse if anyone suggested that. What the technology allows, however, is for the discussions that take place in class to be continued beyond the 55 or so minutes that we are “allotted” for that class. We have already had many cases (both last year and this) of students requesting the opportunity to continue discussions on the blog outside of class – discussions that without the technology we simply wouldn’t have been able to spend class time on in the past. I see that as very powerful – it is allowing students a greater voice and role in their own education. Then – at times – the laptops can be used to leverage that discussion when the students return to the classroom. And – as the examples that Mrs. Smith has posted show – it allows us to do things with the text that would not have been possible for most students before.

For me, there is not such a hard line distinguishing math/science from history/language arts. They are all based on information – and human interpretation of that information. What our best research tells us is that humans construct their own meaning – that they come to any situation with some pre-conceived notions and then – when faced with something that doesn’t fit those pre-conceived notions – they have to modify their beliefs (or ignore the new information). We are constantly trying to make meaning and find understanding in math, science, history and language arts. They are all “liberal arts.”

So, does this mean laptops are the answer for every problem in education? Absolutely not – they are simply a means to facilitate a more engaging, meaningful and relevant form of education for our students. An education where students take a much more active role in their learning – and the learning of those around them. And that shouldn’t have to wait until college – or high school for that matter. Elementary school isn’t simply preparation for middle school; middle school for high school; high school for college; college for life. This is life – and we should take full advantage of this time to make it as meaningful as possible for all of our students.

Hikingout said...

Will H (I disagree with the Arapahoe blogging policy, but I will save that argument for another time)

Mr. Ficsh,

Your argument that all school is a preparation for life does have some validity, but you overlook the core argument that I am making. Even if laptops allow students to develop better ideas, students still need to develop these ideas by themselves. Learning to formulate ideas is a stepped process that occurs at all times through a student's career, however, if too much information is available at this crucial stage of learning to think the students ability to not only create ideas but also to support them may be impaired. My argument is not that laptops in class will ruin this independent thought construction, it is that if introduced too early, internet in the classroom could impair if not destroy the potential of this learning stage. I am not against all laptops, I am just saying that the integration of laptops into freshmen and sophomores is undesirable. There is a time window between middle school and sophomore year where the student learns that their arguments can hold as much validity as an experts or a teacher's, it was very evident in my class when some of the students began to directly contradict teachers and experts in class. My primary concern is technology's integration into this critical learning stage of development. Laptops with internet access MAY be able to work with upper-classmen who have already made it through this stage.

You also mistakenly assume that I am against all technology. Technology is useful for the reasons you outlined. I am only against internet access daily in the classroom.

I would like to draw attention to the section in which you wrote, "I also don’t think that the introduction of laptops will replace the in-class discussions – have you spent any time with our Language Arts teachers? I think they would walk out en masse if anyone suggested that. What the technology allows, however, is for the discussions that take place in class to be continued beyond the 55 or so minutes that we are “allotted” for that class. We have already had many cases (both last year and this) of students requesting the opportunity to continue discussions on the blog outside of class – discussions that without the technology we simply wouldn’t have been able to spend class time on in the past."

The flaw in this argument is that laptops allow all of this necessary outside class discussion to occur in class. Laptops are not necessary for any of the benefits you discuss. The benefits you outline are not those of laptops, but those of technology and internet usage OUTSIDE of class. The 55 minutes of allotted class time should not be interrupted by technology, but should be a guaranteed time of learning without technology. This class time could be coupled with options for students to make technology applications outside of class.

I also disagree with the loose classification of liberal arts, although all subjects require critical thinking to an extent, math, science, and to an extent, history are based on the tangible and the rest of history and English are based on the intangible. I would classify liberal arts as education concerning the intangible. The intangible must first be defined by the student and then researched. I would rather see a student, or myself for that matter, struggle and get bad grades by attempting to find their own definitions and ideas about the intangible than have that same student use the internet to find an answer and get an A. Struggle and conflict allow for learning, not a readily available pile of information. So in reality, students are not stretching themselves further, they remain within their comfort zone finding answers only a "click" away.

By making so much information available in the classroom students are hurt rather than helped. Unless students are forced to put their OWN ideas forward to be criticized by their peers and teachers, we do them a disservice and don't allow them to reach their full potential.

Leave the laptops, take away the internet access.

chelseah said...

I am also one of Ms. Smith's students, and I too, really enjoy the laptops. I enjoy having everything right there, woth one click of a button. There is the internet, where anything and everything can be found. I like being able to copy and paste things into a word document, and then being able to leave my own personal comments right next to the text. This has really helped me understand Macbeth better, and I also feel like because I am using the latest technology, I can understand anything. I feel I am able to achieve anything. Having my own personal laptop has elped so much.

Karl Fisch said...


I have a feeling we aren’t going to agree about this, but a couple of quick points.

At some point, I’d like to hear your concerns with the blogging policy. We developed it collaboratively last year, then asked students for feedback and made some small adjustments based on that. We can always make more adjustments if somebody has a better idea. But please keep in mind that we are doing our best to walk the fine line that will allow us to keep blogging at all – many school districts have banned it altogether.

I’m not sure I was saying that all school was preparation for life – in fact, I thought I was saying the opposite, that this is life. But, then again, I was tired and it was late (for me, I know not for you guys), so maybe I didn’t say that! Also, while it’s not that important, I don’t view it as an “argument,” but as a conversation. I feel there is way too much “arguing” going on.

I guess I don’t see how students can develop ideas completely “by themselves.” That would seem to be an argument against school – and society – in general. I’m not sure there is a magical line somewhere between middle school and Junior year when students suddenly learn they can think on their own. I think there are quite a lot of freshmen and sophomores that would argue that with you (in fact, Molly if you’re out there, you seemed to have a strong opinion about that last year as a sophomore). I would also love to travel back in time and ask the freshmen or sophomore Will his opinion about that as well. Or travel into the future and ask the sophomore-in-college Will if he thinks the line should be drawn after Sophomore year in high school – or maybe after the Junior year? Even if there is a line, my hope is that through education we could push that line back much earlier. As a parent, I’m trying to teach my first grader that her thoughts and ideas and opinions matter – I sure hope she doesn’t have to wait until Junior year to believe me. (Although, to be completely honest, I also wish she sometimes would just agree with my opinions!)

As far as the blogging outside of class versus in class, I thought I said something different as well (but again, it was late, I’m old, blah blah blah). I believe I said something about then being able to use the laptops to leverage the blog back into class. That during class the laptops would allow the students to see the thinking of their classmates and possibly respond to it (since not every student is going to be as diligent as you to do it outside of class). I also think that occasional in-class blogging is not necessarily bad – it gives voice to many students who would otherwise not participate. The laptops also have many other uses in class as Mrs. Smith is already demonstrating by her posted examples. (And in Social Studies classes we could have a long discussion about students being able to access both primary sources and additional secondary sources, instead of having to rely on one, sanitized secondary source textbook – and then doing their own thinking about history instead of relying on others.)

I don’t see laptops as a means to find “answers” on the web (other than to factual information – which I think is perfectly acceptable). I see them as a means to find further questions. If all we’re doing is looking for answers that can be readily found on the Internet, then we’re asking the wrong questions - and we’re wasting everybody’s time. That’s not at all our intent with the laptops – or technology in general at AHS. While that is certainly some people’s ideas of what education should be about, it’s definitely not mine. I see them as a means to help us explore all of the knowledge that humans have “accumulated” (for lack of a better word at the moment) – and to allow students to then construct their own meaning. I’m fearful of a world where we limit access to information by people for their own good. If too much Internet access in class is bad, what about books? Newspapers? Audio? Video? Teachers? Classmates? – and perhaps most importantly – who gets to make that decision? I would rather give them access and help them explore and deconstruct and remix and reconstruct that information for themselves. This is all about students putting their own ideas forward, being producers of information instead of just consumers. But they still need to learn from the accumulated wisdom of the human race, and to read (and listen and watch) and think about others’ opinions and thoughts – and then join in the conversation.

Hikingout said...

Mr. Fish I agree with most of your points, except I still don't see why we need these laptops in class. I ask you to reread these blogs by the students. I see a general trend of respones saying: information is just a click away, they also indicate that "understanding" means knowledge. When I say understanding, I mean that the students took raw information, the book, and using the book formed ideas while reading, and could defend those ideas like you and I are doing right now. Understanding is not researching something on the internet and defending the opinions they found on the internet. I fail to see why blogging needs to be done in class, discussion and blogging are the same thing and students must learn to argue in front of their peers. Blogging allows students to stay comfortable while they argue, something that is very undesirable in education. The goal should be to force students to support their ideas in front of their peers without hiding. If a student does not participate because they are afraid of their peers, this is a problem that needs to be addressed right away with the individual student. However, penalizing an entire class because of a few fearful students does not make sense. You are right, I probably would have liked internet access freshman and sophomore years, however, looking back I know that it was better that I did not. I would not be who I am now or even be comfortable making this argument with a teacher if it had not been for the public discussions held in class. So while students may not like or want what I say to occur, I say it because it is in their best interest being someone who owes success to not being able to use the internet.

EmilyH said...

I think that everyone here should know that taking notes on computers is officially almost the best thing ever invented, especially while we are doing the video comparisons, typing is (for me) a lot faster that writing it out.
hikingout--just thought i would respond to your post because you seem to be very passionate about your points. I would agree with you that having answers to our questions be 'just a click away' maybe is not very desirable but i think you need to realize that
1) we do not blog during class, it is used as an extension to class discussion, therefore it is homework.
2)Since we dont blog in class we do have discussions, and since discussions are usually pretty fast-past a student does have to use his/her own thoughts and stretch his mind because by the time they look up an answer the discussion will have already moved on to another subject.
3) Blogging does allow a student to stay comfortable while they argue, but that has its good points too. For example, lets say that you have a student who is so scared of speaking in a classroom discussion that their ideas never get out. But with blogs they can go home and be comfortable getting their ideas out, and maybe having people agree with their ideas will boost them enough that they can become comfortable enough to speak in the class. also, as i said before, we do have discussions in class so blogging does not in any way, shape, or form replace good old uncomfortable situations.
4)As a student with the laptops i have to say they are a huge asset to the class, even if it is one without set facts etc. Laptops allow me to be more organized, which is a miracle, as i can just load all of my assignments onto my USB port, work on them at home save them on the USB port and bring them to class. I now have the first to acts of Macbeth, two papers of my own, one paper that I peer edited, several pages of video notes as well as several pages of other notes, all contained it less than a square inch of space. That is pretty amazing.
5) I have to say i doubt you owe your success in school solely to not being able to use the internet. I can use the internet and i am fairly successfull in school, and i am very comfortable confronting teachers, and my access to the internet does not hinder that in anyway. I also might point out that i have not even used the internet during school other than to copy acts 1 and 2 of macbeth onto a word document, i mainly use my laptop to take notes. (see the first paragraph... It basically is my favorite!)

I just thought of an interesting point. If we did not have access to the internet and blogs we would not be having this discussion which i must say is not only allowing me to form ideas and support my ideas, but it is giving me a place to do so.

6) As a student of Mrs. Smiths Honors English class i have to say that i do not believe understanding to be knowledge at all. I have full capability to use the text to make ideas, connections and theorys,then support my them either in the classroom or on a blog, and having laptops has encouraged me to do that.
Although you bring up some valid points i think that they are maybe based off of your ideas alone, not from experience using the laptops in school, because if i didn't have the oppourtunity to be in this class i probably would be of the same opinion as you, but being a part of the class and having the laptops at my disposal is awesome. They aid in organization, make notetaking much more efficient, and i have to say make the students excited to do things that would usually make them groan, like making a web. making a web on paper would be something i would not enjoy, but making a web on the laptop was a new experience that made it more fun as we could add color and pictures to it.
Although using laptops does have its faults it is altogether really awesome, and i im so happy i can be in a class where we get this amazing asset.

kjerstinl said...

Emilyh, I agree with youg so much on what you just said to hiking out! Note taking is so much easier. It's so fast paced, and you don't have to take out a sticky note, write down your thoughts, and then put it in the book which might be a totally different place than where everyone is reading. Highlighting and such helps me remember what is important to remember and places where I had certain questions. Frankly, with books that just doesn't happen as often. As I've been reading Lord of the Flies, I go through and just read. Some questions come to my mind, but I'm not as concentrated to the book as I am the computer. I really have no idea why this is, it's just how I work. Also, while reading Macbeth, I have no idea what's going on. So I'm able to make a text box near a certain place and just rewrite in my own words what happen.

Another thing about laptops, the online dictionaries and thesauruses. These have about saved my life. I go to a regular thesaurus, and I'm not really impressed with the selection of words that I get, plus, I don't even know half of them. NOW, I'm able to go to visual thesaurus where they have a variety of different words with their meanings so no one has to go and search them up in a dictionary. The online dictionary is also helpful, because days that we have in class writes, and I think I know what a word means, and I'm not quite sure, dictionary.com is where I go. I pretty much use the dictionary for all my assignments because there are so many words that I don't know.

About the discussions, I agree with Emilyh once again. Our discussions are fast paced, they go from point to point to point, that I barely have any time to think of my own opinion or answer! Plus, in our discussions, there are really no wrong answers, so there is no place to go and look up the right ones.

Last year at my middle school, a collection of different students (including myself) were picked to take a test. This test was a writing sample taken on the computer, and they took a CSAP style question to ask you to answer. Instead of writing on paper, we were allowed the computer. We typed and typed, and when the results came in, almost everybody improved from when they took their last test. There were many advanced papers too! The computer for me allows me to focus and gather my ideas, a piece of paper is just something that needs to be written on, but I can never tell what.

Hikingout said...

Will H

Computers should not be used to compensate for skils that need improving. If you can't write sticky notes or think fast enough to participate in a discussion, this is something the teacher and you need to work. I do recognize that the volume of note-taking required in high-school is a significantly higher level than required in middle-school but this is a problem that requires adaptation and improvement, not a new tool to make it easier. Students need note-taking skills they can fall back on when the computer breaks or, heaven help us, there is no computer. As to the results of the CSAP test on the computer, I would put most of the blame on the computer for the improved scores. However, a written test requires the student to economize their time and word choice,be accountable for their spelling, etc. Writing requires the student to work harder and faster to achieve the same result as they would with a computer. This challenge creates better, smarter students. MAKING SOMETHING EASIER IS NOT MAKING SOMETHING BETTER. ONCE NECESSARY SKILLS AND SYSTEMS ARE LEARNED BY THE STUDENT, THEY CAN THEN APPLY THEM TO TECHNOLOGY. For instance, if I had to, I could probably take down notes as fast as someone could type them using a system created for debate, I have now appled this system to a computer to make it even faster. What the school is doing with laptops is eliminating this intermediary step that requires innovation and the learning of skills, this is just too easy for students.

Lastly, if someone is too afraid to speak up in class then the best thing the school can do is to force this student to speak up in class instead of blog. Public speaking and rhetoric are the most important skills that must be learned in school. Blogging should not be an option to compensate for these skills but rather an option to reinforce them.

To kjerstinl:
Were your CSAP papers "Advanced" because of the computer or because of your thinking? If you meant to argue that the reason for the more advanced papers is because of technology, then there is a serious problem with our education system. Technology should be a tool not a crutch.
There is too much of a focus on grades at this school. Students don't see the true potential of what they can do. So WHAT if writing instead of typing is a B instead of an A? Whenever we as students choose to make things easier for ourselves we deny ourselves challenges. Yes, challenges suck. But they do make us better and that is something vastly more important than a grade. Having been in the same honors classes you freshmen are taking I worry that students cater too much to the grading policy and not enough to their own improvement. When you can figure out how to beat the grading system and give the radical ideas you always wanted to, then you achieve success. Don't play by the rules, beat them.

To EmilyH:
Are you blogging in class? My point is not to remove technology from students, just to remove the tech in the classroom. We still could have this type of conversation without the laptops although you are right, we would not have THIS conversation because there would be no reason to argue over laptops. You are right about my success not being directly linked to not having internet, but my point is that I was unable to use the internet as a crutch in the classroom to support my thinking, I learned to read better because I could not look up every word I had trouble with in a book, essentially, I had to find a way to get over every challenge without help, excluding an occassional teacher visit. The destruction of true problem-solving is what is risked by the integration of laptops.

To Everyone:
I am glad to see some students besides myself on these blogs, and I am ecstatic that they are formulating arguments by themselves. I know that there are many more people reading this blog than are responding, please join.

Karl Fisch said...


I agree that some students may be focusing on "information just being a click away." While I don't see that as necessarily a bad thing, I agree that we need to focus on understanding as well. But please remember we are just getting started with this - and that is part of what this whole process is about - teaching them how to use the technology appropriately to enhance their learning and their skills. Just like you most likely didn't have your current writing and thinking skills when you walked in here as a ninth grader, give these students some time to develop that - with help from their teachers. We're not just going to turn them over to the laptops and say "go for it."

As far as blogging being a crutch that allows them to avoid speaking in class, I don't think that's what we're going for. I think there's a place for both, and I agree with Emily that blogging can help students find their voice and make them be more confident in class. I agree that if we did allow them to avoid all public speaking that would be a bad thing, but again I don't think our Language Arts teachers - or any of our teachers - are thinking of going that far. I also think that most teachers will tell you that it is extremely difficult to "force students" to do anything - so this is just one more technique to scaffold their learning and comfort level so that they become able to do all these things.

About the only thing that's surprised me so far is your comments about note taking. We have a long and illustrious history in education of people complaining about new tools and how it makes it too easy for students. This includes such advanced tools as the pencil and the ballpoint pen. I see computers - and other technologies - as just the next example of humankind's set of tools to help us achieve and learn and grow. I agree that we need to be careful that students still learn a variety of skills and how to be creative and innovative, but I don't think the technology precludes that. We're striving for a professional learning environment - and I think our students deserve the best tools possible to help them achieve that (again, understanding your point about students still being able to think for themselves.) I see the appropriate use of technology as the next set of "skills" that students need to master, including problem solving, to not only learn to their potential, but to be successful in the 21st century.

We pretty much agree about grades. You may have overheard and/or actually been part of discussions in classes about the purpose of grades. We have been discussing this quite a lot as a faculty in the past year or so and I hope that you have seen - and will continue to see - movement in how grades are used at AHS. Many of us are working hard to refocus students (and adults for that matter) on the learning, not the grade.

Phillips said...


First, I think your reason for this argument is becuase you didn't have laptops in your Freshman year and now, out of jealousy, you are fighting the idea.

Second, I agree somewhat with your thoughts about some people not being ready to use laptops. But there is a very few number of people who shouldn't. Personally, I have been using computers as much as possible for my whole life. Also, When I start a carrer I will be using a computer and will want all the experience that I can get with using a computer in a work enviroment, and using them like this in school is that experience.

Finally, if your a tree hugger, using computers is removing are use of paper by allowing us to take all of our notes on the computer. Plus, With the use of flash drives we can easily take are work to and from class to work on at home easily.

Kurt W. said...

Wow, quite a debate going on here that I had no idea about.

I find myself agreeing with Mr. Fisch on just about everything. Mainly because I worry about an argument that has no experience to back it up. Will, you haven't shown how laptops stall or hinder the learning of students. As far as I can tell (just based on the lack of experience that you have brought to the argument) you have not used the laptops in class. I just do not see how you can be such an avid opponent to these tools if you have never used them.

As a student in not only Mrs. Smith's class, but Mr. Hatak's and Mr. Meyer's as well, I can attest from personal experience, that these laptops are doing good. Nay, they are doing much more than good. For instance, today in my English class, I spent most of the day searching for scholarships for college financial aid. Now, I could do this at home. However, i could not have my English teacher over my shoulder helping me with the essays that I am submitting to these Scholarships.

Another interesting idea that will present itself in my English class will be our reading of Hamlet . During my pseudo-Student Assisting for Mrs. Smith. I came upon a dual text from the University of Pennsylvania that shows a modern adaptation of the play, along with the old English translation. How amazing would it be to read the play and have what Shakespeare really meant right next to the text?

As for Blogging, I have seen absolutely no negative effects from any of the Blogs. It provides a voice for those students who do not speak up as much during class (Just look at your and my posts on the AP Gov blog compared to how many things you and I have said in class), it has only worked in the positive. In a Blog I say, and therefore publish, only the thoughts that I have had time to formulate and wrestle with. Where as in class, when the spotlight is turned, some things can be said without being thought through (If anyone is in my Law class and is reading, my proof is what I said when Meyer asked me what Criminal Law was {I said "the law when someone commits a crime, and no-one is suing anyone else [brilliant, I know.]}.)

Personally, I am quite excited to be the "Guinea Pigs" for this great laptop experience. Sure there are some mistakes or glitches in the system; but this is the wave of the future, and I am really pleases to be pioneering from the front of the wave.

kjerstinl said...

hiking out, this is pretty much all for you. If you haven't noticed our techonology is developing. It's better to keep up with the technology. Most of the information we're learning now will pretty much be useless in four years. Might as well try to keep up even though that's pretty much impossible. Also, do you know how easier it is do edit papers for peer editing? Instead of emailing the paper to someone with the chance of the paper being lost, we just have our USBs that we can plug into the computer.

I bet that you did know that our class will be blogging with seniors from Alabama (at least I'm pretty sure they're from there, correct me if I'm wrong) about Macbeth and we'll have these huge discussions with them like we are right now. Do you know how cool that is? Plus, in class we can discuss as a class while looking at them, plus get everything out from our online text. What you said about not writing notes fast, yes, you have a point, but I somewhat disagree. There are other classes where we take notes by hand and yes, I do lose my place and get lost and have to reread some things over in my own spare time. But shouldn't we use these laptops to our advantage to widen our range of thinking AND learning? Have you had Mrs. Smith? Because we do not learn as usual. Want proof? Read our honors english blog.

You also said if something is easier, it is not always better. Have you ever read something, and had no idea what it meant? You're doing individual work, and the teacher's busy? Well, we have to resources. We are able to understand it faster and get a BETTER understanding than just being clueles. I read Shakespeare in 6th grade. Yes, I admit that I was in 6th grade and I didn't have as quite as an understanding as I would now, but last year my sister read it. As her class was reading it, I was in an independant study in at the same time. As I listened to discussions, I remembered more and more, yet I was still confused. It was a Midsummer Night's Dream, so it's not all that complicated. I must admit, that I understand the first two acts of Macbeth SO much more than I did in Midsummer Night's Dream.

Also, do you know of many writing jobs today that use only paper and pen? Although this is a little early to think about any of this and many of us will not do writing jobs, it's preparation.

Hm. I lost my thought. I'll be back though!

paigen said...

This message is for "Hiking Out"

I am a student in Mrs. Smith's Honors English class with laptops. I strongly disagree with your opinion that laptops could be used in Math or Science but not in English. First of all, how would you use a laptop in Math or Science, I don't think it is very easy to graph and write equations or perform experiments in a word document. Second, we don't use the internet unless it is for blogging, which you seem to be quite fond of. Occasionally, we will use the internet to get the text for Macbeth, but we have only done that once in class. Also, laptops don't take away from group discussions, because we use the laptops to take notes on group discussions, which make them go faster and become more efficient because people aren't saying, "Wait I'm not done writing that down...can we slow down?" I respect your right to voice your opinion, I just think that everyone using the laptops, would disagree with it.

Hikingout said...

To Philip: I am already in two laptop classes, Gov and Chemistry, I am not jealous that you guys have laptops. I do worry for the argument development of your class because when I reminisce about my freshmen year, I remember a lot of repeated arguments, very little clash, and a lot of underdeveloped arguments, even without the computers. Freshmen year should be all about how to support your own arguments. I read most of your class' blogs and I found that although you all do find textual support for your arguments, there is little playing off of what your classmates say, and I don't think I saw any disagreement among classmates. Computers are user friendly, if you look at the way computers used to run and the way they do now, it is very diffferent other than the keyboard. Operating systems at this time are meant to be able to be learned quickly, and I am not advocating never using technology at all, just no internet in the classroom (I sound like a broken record player). Finally, most people who know me will tell you that I am most definitely not a tree hugger.

To Kurt: If you read all of my arguments, you would find that I am advocating no internet in the classroom for freshmen and sophomores, allowing ample time for argument education. You, quite obviously, have already had this education. Can I assume you are at least a junior? Look, I may not be able to submit much evidence for what I advocate, but neither has the other side. The difference between our blogs and the freshmen blogs is quite obvious, we, through our education, have shown more of a mastery of rhetoric and case construction. You will also see a vast increase in disagreement with age when comparing our blogs to the freshmen.

I have to go, I'll finish this later. Blog on.

sarahc said...

I disagree with kikingout. Sure, in class discussions are possibly lessened by the availability of laptops, but also, with the use of laptops, and the availability of expert ideas and opinions, there is a base off of which many more arguments can develop. The Internet also helps students look up definitions that valuable class time would be wasted on answering or looking up.
I also disagree on the argument that laptops cannot work in a literature or history class. Both classes do have quite a bit of factual-type learning in them. Internet in history allows students to look up dates, and get in depth information about certain subjects, not covered in depth in their books or class discussions. On the subject of understanding Shakespeare, many things in Shakespeare’s language cannot be looked up on the Internet. Some thing can, but concepts still have to be discussed in class.
Liberal arts education is not being destroyed by laptops. We are still equal, and still pound through the text, just with the help of outside sources. In some ways, Internet allows us to have better discussions and arguments because the simple questions that take time can be answered on one’s own, leaving more time for good, solid discussions. Also, with the added outside sources, arguments can have a firmer base with supporting evidence, which can lead to discussions not only on the students’ ideas, but also the ideas of others.
Also, as karl fisch said, blogging allows discussions to go on outside of class, so the discussion is not restricted to when the bell rings.

Kurt W. said...

Everything in Italics has been taken from Will's posts.

If you read all of my arguments, you would find that I am advocating no internet in the classroom for freshmen and sophomores, allowing ample time for argument education.

Such a blanket statement bothers me, because as an older brother to a Sophomore, I have seen the argumentative capabilities of kids this age. Just because a person is not of a certain age does not mean that they can not think, or for that matter, argure, at a certain level. For a little more contextual evidence, i would have to reference the former postings of Molly (cross-reference here: http://thefischbowl.blogspot.com/#115621715077790784 and here: http://thefischbowl.blogspot.com/2006_05_01_thefischbowl_archive.html#114732162045242744. I just do not see it as that black and white.

You, quite obviously, have already had this education.

You know, people keep telling me that I like to argue a lot (and for some reason, I always have the urge to disagree).

Can I assume you are at least a junior?

Heh, Just for clarification, I am that senior who was sitting next to you in AP Gov wearing the brown shirt.

Look, I may not be able to submit much evidence for what I advocate, but neither has the other side. The difference between our blogs and the freshmen blogs is quite obvious,

I find a difference between some freshmen's posts and our for instance. However, that statement is a two-way road. I have seen plenty of upperclassmen post with much less class than freshmen; and vice-versa. Once again, I just do not like the blanket statement.
We, through our education, have shown more of a mastery of rhetoric and case construction.

Careful with that one, as High Schoolers we are really far from mastering most things. I do see what you are saying, but once again I have to disagree with the blanket statement. After all, Justin (i'll refrain from using his whole name because I cannot speak for him) was beating Seniors in speech competitions when he was a Sophomore.

Laptops are not good or bad tool for the classroom. It is how the student uses the tool.

BenH said...

I will try not to rehash anything that people have already said because that would be pointless. However, one thing I would like to bring up is it seems like you are saying that hard work enhances education. In my opinion, hard work is bad because it lowers efficiency. Like it has been said before, education is an effort to prepare people for real life. In real life, you will be required to find information. However, it is extremely unlikely that you will be required to do so in a fashion that requires hard work. What will matter to your boss in the end is whether or not you got what you needed to get.

Make no mistake, I do not beleive that being able to understand and peice together information is not important. However, I think that the internet enhances our ability to do so. It lets us gain more information in less time, which makes it so we do an even better job of putting information in perspective and and understanding how other information interacts with that information.

The internet can certainly not compensate for an inability to formulate ideas and defend them. But it can provide a way for more complete ideas to be formulated.

BenH said...

I think in his last comment kurtw said things very well. It is very important that students use the tool correctly.

Aylar said...

Dearest Hiking out,
First and foremost I would just like to say that it's absolutely ridiculous not to use the wonderful technology that is being provided to us in class. You brought up a point that I think needs to be addressed you wrote..."If you read all of my arguments,(Which I have) you would find that I am advocating no Internet in the classroom for freshmen and sophomores" Are you insinuating that freshmen and sophomores should not use computers because we aren't intellectually ready for them? If this was your train of thought you are quite close minded, and in my opinion overly confident in your own intellectual abilities. . I also wish to say that you crediting your reading success success to not having computers is the biggest load I've ever heard. quote: "You are right about my success not being directly linked to not having Internet, but my point is that I was unable to use the Internet as a crutch in the classroom to support my thinking, I learned to read better because I could not look up every word I had trouble with in a book, essentially, I had to find a way to get over every challenge without help" If you were having real trouble understanding a book you WOULD NOT "just figure it out" It's completely lazy, think about it... Well I don't get it so I'm going to figure it out. Does this sound like a student who really has a desire to learn and understand a book or classroom discussion better? I think NOT!!! A serious student would do some research, look up words they don't understand, etc.
I have to close this blog down for now, dinner's ready but I'll be back Hiking out!
Ayla Reed from Mrs. Smith's 9th

Kurt W. said...

Ayla, While I understand your vehement ferver on the subject, please try and keep things out of the realm of Ad Hominem. Let's argue over the subject, not eachother. I am sorry if you feel that I have no role in saying any of this, but I would like to try and keep things civil so we can make some sort of headway in this argument. You have very valid points, but let's not attack eachother.

Ben, thanks for the compliment. I put a lot of time into that comment.

Hikingout said...

I have a lot to say and no time to say it. I am going to have to catch up with you guys on Monday, feel free to keep attacking my arguments. I truly don't have time right now to answer all of you.

Kurt, sorry, I didn't know if you were a senior or a junior. My bad.

JoanneH said...

While I disagree with the statement that freshmen and sophomores cannot use the technology to the same extent upperclassmen can, I completely agree with hikingout. Laptops have no place in the classroom. They are a detriment to the learning process and a hindrance to any who use them to taht end. The kids in my class talk about how they can't take notes as quickly with pen and paper. I take notes much faster when I write them on paper. Also, I don't often use the internet as a resource unless it's required for that project. I make it a point to use the books from the library or the encyclopedia before I go to the internet.

At the beginning of the year, Ms. Smith told us she didn't want us using Google as a search engine because some of the information is incorrect. Also, not that long ago, my Dad drew my attention to an article in a newspaper about how Wikipedia had wrong information about the town of Sedalia posted on it. While some internet can be convenient, even trusted sites don't always have correct information on them. It's much harder to publish incorrect information in books.

I personally wonder how much of Macbeth my peers understand. Every day, I go home and peruse what they read in class because the pace in class is too fast for me to understand everything. I'm an avid reader, finishing on average 1-5 or 6 200+ page books each week. Consequently, my reading comprehension is very high. It still takes me one to two times the amount time spent in class to understand the day's reading.

There are other instances where, as hikingout put it, technology is used as a crutch. For example, in AylaR's blog (mind, I don't where you got this word, Ayla) but she uses 'insinuating' incorrectly. I looked it up and 'insinuating' is an adjective, where she uses it as a verb. This seems to me to be the type of synonym Microsoft Word would use. My point is that many people, myself included, have become dependent on computerized thesauruses, and we use words that are synonymous but are to be used in a different context.

I also might add that I don't use sticky notes. When I take notes, I usually take them in a spiral. Then again, I usually rememeber most of my thoughts and don't write anything down. I dilkie the comment boxes we're supposed to be using ot "sticky note" uor Macbeth text, because, if I do write something down, my explanation is usually extensive. If I were to put many comments in a text, they would be squished together and I wouldn't be able to read them. Also, at my house, we have the computers in a downstairs, noisy room. (With my four younger siblings and my two-year-old cousin fighting World War III just outside the study, the only time quiet reigns is after nine, when they're all in bed.) I can't work on the computer during the afternoon, so to have a little USB Macbeth is worthless to me because I can't concentrate on it.

Ayla says that "crediting your reading success success to not having computers is the biggest load I've ever heard." This is inaccurate. My abilty to comprehend the stories I read, whether they be from academically related readings or other books that I have read, comes not from CliffNotes or any other online
"expert." I understand things using my brain more than my fingers, if you get my meaning.

Ayla, you say "just figuring it out" is lazy, but I disagree. I "just figure things out" by using context clues in the material, instead of looking it up on the computer. I think that laziness would extend to typing a few figures and clicking a button, rather than using my head. In "just figuring it out" I find I think more with my brain and less with my fingers.

It's getting late, but I'll try to get on later and post more on this subject.

BenH said...


1. vti imply something: to hint at something unpleasant or suggest it indirectly and gradually
2. vr worm your way in: to introduce yourself gradually and cunningly into a position, especially a place of confidence or favor

Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Kurt W. said...

No worries man. Just wanted to give you a face to reference.

Karl Fisch said...

Everyone please keep in mind Kurt's excellent point:

. . . while I understand your vehement ferver on the subject, please try and keep things out of the realm of Ad Hominem. Let's argue over the subject, not each other. I am sorry if you feel that I have no role in saying any of this, but I would like to try and keep things civil so we can make some sort of headway in this argument. You have very valid points, but let's not attack eachother.

And Kurt, you certainly do have a role, as do all of us. Thanks for stepping up. For the most part, you all are doing a wonderful job of discussing the issues and not attacking each other or using insulting language. Let's please keep it that way.

Please continue the conversation . . .

JoanneH said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JoanneH said...

Main Entry: insinuating
Function: adjective
1 : winning favor and confidence by imperceptible degrees : INGRATIATING
2 : tending gradually to cause doubt, distrust, or change of outlook often in a slyly subtle manner (insinuating remarks)
From: http://merriamwebster.com/cgi-bin/dictionary

'Insinuating' can be used as either, but to me the context for using it as a verb as Ayla did is incorrect.

Aylar said...

Hey guys it's me again...
Sorry I didn't keep my comments about ideas rather then people, that was my fault. Though I firmly believe that laptops are an asset rather then a liability in the classroom. Have to go now, catch up with everyone later.

JoanneH said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JoanneH said...

Last night, I was going on my dictionary's definition of insinuate, which is "to introduce gradually and insidiously," where insidious means "working or spreading in a subtle or stealthy manner." I concede that I am wrong. Ayla used the word correctly.

My point was that people are becoming dependent on computerized thesauruses. The first example I could see was Ayla's blog, and I now know my mistake. My apologies to Ayla and anyone else who took offense at this.

kjerstinl said...

Ok, frankly, why are we talking about the word insinuating, because I don't think that this is the real issue here. Laptops. Should we use them for freshmen and sophomores? Now I'm sort of thinking that it depends. Because as joanneh said, she really doesn't use them computer all that much and can comprehend things in her head. Frankly, especially with Shakespeare, it's not that easy for me. I can look at Macbeth and look and a page, and be so clueless what it's talking about, that it takes me at least 5 minutes to read one little page. Once I'm done, I can't remember or understand anything that I've read. I don't know what it is, but I've adapted to learning on computers. My whole family spends a lot of time on the computer, it's just a way that I've learned to live. So I'm starting to think that laptops don't have to be REQUIRED, but they can be a wonderful tool at times. And hiking out one question: Is the reason that you think that laptops should only be in history and in science because those are the classes that YOU have them and YOU find them helpful? Well, just think about that for a second. I'm not sure that my learning would be the same in history or science if I was on computers, it might be harder for me to concentrate (even though it already is) and it just wouldn't be right for me. Well, we've got classes of students for English who think that the laptops ARE right for THEM. I imagine that most people arguing against you (other than Kurt and Mr. Fisch), are probably in Honors English. Being honors students, we think out of the box. We're out of the ordinary, and we do not think of others. When you said, "...I remember a lot of repeated arguments, very little clash, and a lot of underdeveloped arguments..." Why can't we be different? Why can't our ideas be developed to the right standards? The generations are getting smarter by the minute, take that into mind.

tomr said...

Like the majority here, I very much oppose hikingout's criticism of laptops in the classroom. Freshman and sophomores are more than intellectually ready to use them as a learning tool. Last I checked, age was not the complete indicator of wisdom.

I'm not quite sure where you got the idea that we were using the internet to formulate arguments rather than developing them autonomously, but I can assure you that is quite far from the truth. In-class discussions are still an integral part of our education. In fact, I don't recall an instance where we were asked to or encouraged to use the internet aside from blogging and finding online texts, both of which are quite legitimate uses.

I read the AP Government blog for time to time, and often I am tempted to jump in. I do believe I could hold my own in one of those debates.

Quote: "...through our education, have shown more of a mastery of rhetoric and case construction. You will also see a vast increase in disagreement with age when comparing our blogs to the freshmen."

I resent this statement. There is more to debate than simply being educated. It requires passion and enthusiasm, both of which I personally believe we freshman have plenty of.

I'd love to wax a bit more, but I've got to go. I'm eagerly awaiting your response, hikingout.

Mphair said...

So far, I believe that everyone that has bloged here has extremly valid points. I would like to make one of my own, and hope that it will prove to be as good as some of the others that I have read.

I believe that Will (aka hikingout) has made a valid point. There are times when computers ARE misused. However I dissagree that computers are good in math classes, as he mentioned in his first blog. Last year I went to Lake Hazel in Boise, Idaho. My math teacher there put all of her tests and quizes online, at a piticular site ment for such things. However, quizstar (the site) was not very reliable. When one was taking the tests or quizes, they could be kicked off for no apparent reason. There was one instance when I was on the second to last question and I was kicked off, and so had to re-take an entire test that had previously taken about two hours. Also the answer keys were not always correct, and so even if one put the right answer, they got the question wrong. I'm trying not to make this an argument against quizstar and my previous teacher, but to show that computers are not substitutes for actual human teachers in math.

However, this is English, not math. I personally have had quite a lot of exposure to Shakespeare. My drama teacher last year had us each memorize a monologue and then translate it into "modern kid language." So in addition to reading the script on the computer, I have been basically reading the book at home, as I personally learn best from paper.

I understand that using the laptops in class is a major step forward, however I also see it as a step back. People have learned Shakespeare through books for ages.

Half of me is really glad we have the computers, and yet the other half thinks that all of the money put forth to these computers could be better spent sending the students to actually see a production of Macbeth, and see it as people did when they first came out...the audience went to HEAR the play, not SEE it, or even read it, but to HEAR it. That is one thing that I'm not sure that people grasp, is just how amazing Shakespeare's language is. Most often it is thought "Oh, this is so hard to understand...it's SHAKESPEARE!!!! *doom* It really isn't all that bad. Remeber, on a contridictory note to what I mentioned earlier, you don't NEED to understand every single word. That is basically impossible.

I think what I'm really trying to get accross is that Shakespeare can't be learned by reading other people's thoughts on the sites on Shakespeare's work. Sure one gets the basic plot, but will one really UNDERSTAND it? I believe that it requires personal dedication to personally understanding any piece of littature, be it Shakespeare or not.

People learn differently from others. I am personally not all that geared toward technology, I prefer paper and pencil. However I know that using the computers is an amazing oppertunity and that others might actually completely bennifit when using the computer based text.

To sum up (basically) my blog, I believe from personal experiences that computers do NOT belong in Math. However, if used properly, they have potential to be used in English, however to truly understand Shakespeare, one can only learn for themselves.

Thank you.

EmilyL said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
EmilyL said...

I would like to give a moderate view on the subject.
First some background info so can see whwere my position is coming from:
I like joanneh do not spend a whole lot of time on the computer. I read a lot, and prefer pencil and paper to a computer. This is my first experince with laptop. I'm a freshman in Mrs Smith's honors class.
(This comes from my previous post)
"I like everyone else am a student in Mrs. Smith's class. As for the laptops I like the fact that we don't have to go down to the computer lab whenever we want to do research, we can do it our laptop."
While I definitely agree with Joanneh that sites like Wikipedia are unreliable, I feel that some good research may be done on laptops. For instance, if you were researching the organization like UNICEF it would be good to see what UNICEF has to say about its organization on its website.

I do feel that the use of technology in an English class has gone too far. To me instead of us annotate Macbeth online with our laptops, it would be a lot more helpful to me as mphair said to see a play performed with all its costumes and scenery. By doing this I can get a better grasp of the story. I also feel that our projects that we do on laptops i.e. pickup lines are not any more beneficial to me on a laptop than if we did them on paper.

I also feel that laptops become more of hindrance than a help when your homework requires programs that you don’t have. My computer is old, shared, and does not have moviemaker, publisher, or anything beyond word, PowerPoint and excel. Often our internet will just die, because we do not get great connection in my area. I feel that this puts students with out as nice of computers at a disadvantage.
In summary, I feel while laptops have some wonderful benefits, their use has gone too far.

ADRIANA G said...

I don't think that laptops are keeping us from learning on or own at all. In Ms. Smith's class, we have still been discussing. We use the laptops to take notes on the discusisons. We ARE encouraged to voice our own opinions as well as ask others about things we do not understand. The laptops aren't completely destroying discussion. You said you watned a balance and that is exactly what we are doing. We act out scenes and then discuss and annotate them. I can see where you're coming from with the point about looking things up on the internet, but I don't agree. While reading, together in class, we discuss what we think is happening. If there is a word or phrase that people don't understand, someone looks it up. If we didn't have laptops, it would be up to the teacher to answer these kinds of questions. You said we need to realize that our ideas are just as important as those of an expert. Internet access allows us to become more independent. We can find answers for ourselves and interpret the text. Isn't this better than only listening to the teacher's interpretation? I would also like to point out that the books we are given in class have explanations of difficult passages next to the original text. In a way, this is more of a crutch than the internet. It explains things to you probably more than a Shakespeare website would. Internet access and laptops are just tools to aid education and make it better.

BenH said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
BenH said...

joanneh: you mentioned the accuracy of wikipedia. In fact, it is quite accurate compared to an encyclopedia like Brittanica. Not as good, but still quite good. And it offers many things that Britannica cannot, such as current events articles and constant updating. Click here to read more.

Also, you have clearyly said that many methods that work best for you do not involve the computer. In my opinion, you should be able to do things however it works best for you. But does that really mean that laptops have no place in the classroom? Many other students have shwon that the laptops have been great instructional and educational tools for them. I do not think it is fair to sacrifice their opportunity just because they do things differently than you. By all means, do things your way. But let others do things theirs, even if that means using a laptop.

Like hikingout, you seem to equate using a computer to figure things out easily with laziness. I disagree. I think that to use a computer like that is highly efficient. What matters is you figured it out. If you did it quickly with a computer, maybe you have more time to figure out something else. This is how it enhances learning.

You also wonder how much your classmates really understand of Macbeth because you read it again after you get home. What does this have to do with laptops? Do you think this perceived lack of understanding is a result of computer use? And you do not really know for sure how much they understand. It is possible that they understand it in one reading or also read it again at home.

On a different note, I have read many people opinions on seeing an actually play. I do think this would be highly beneficial, which is why I advocated finishing a movie in class. However, it is by no means an "either or" decision. I think we are perfectly capable of seeing the play, most likely by watching a video, and keeping the laptops in class.

BenH said...

This discussion has gotten extremely long, and I think that is awesome. However, I would like to suggest adding a new post for further discussion. This would help keep page size managable and make it a little easier to find things people said.

sarahc said...

Have you noticed that the computer is the main tool in our society today? By taking note in class, we learn to type quickly and accurately, in preparation for life on a computer.
We have also had 8 years of school by this point, and we always had to write in those classes. We can probably write faster than we can type at this point, and there isn’t much improvement that has to happen, and any that does can happen in another class. I find it much easier to take notes on the computer because I don’t have to make complete thoughts at the exact time I am writing notes. I can jot down phrases, then come back later and make them into complete thoughts.
Also on that point, we do not have laptops in EVERY class. The most we have them is in two, and most only have them in one. We still have the class time to enhance our writing skills; we’re just enhancing our computer skills at the same time.
Also, on your point that computers shouldn’t be used until sophomore year, you were a sophomore, so you should know what the work load is like. You should also know that a computer is a complicated thing, and adding learning how to use it, on top of a sophomore’s workload just might overload our brains.
Technology also isn’t a crutch. Like both Emily and kjerstinl said, our discussions are far too fast passed to use a computer to look up other’s ideas and use them. We have to think for ourselves and come up with our own ideas.
Also, blogging allows students to include other students who have blogged outside of school. if the students do not speak out in class, but have blogged, their comments are still available for class discussions, without them having to say anything! Yes, I agree with you that this means they are staying in their “comfort zone”, but as you said, in our freshman year, we have to learn to be good public speakers. And, as I said above, we have other classes to learn to do so, and we have discussions in our classes with laptops. There are also classes set aside to teach students public speaking.

I also agree with Kurt that students in freshman and sophomore classes can argue, and as teenagers, we have the tendency to argue with just about anything, just for the sake of it. Since we have this tendency, we have ample opportunity to learn how to argue and support our arguments.

Joanneh, I disagree that it is hard to publish false information in books. Publishers and editors do not look at whether the information in a book is correct, they just check for spelling errors and worked with the money aspects of things. It would be quite easy to publish a false book.
Also, on the subject of synonyms: many people do use the words wrong, but in Mrs. Smith’s class, she encourages us to educate ourselves on the synonyms before using them. And it is not the computer’s fault that the synonym was wrong, it is the fault of the writer for not educating themselves on the correct use of the verb. Many thesaurus websites give examples of how to use the words, and almost all give the parts of speech for the words. We just need to learn how to use them correctly.
On your subject of just using the internet to figure things out, the internet is not a very good source for information like that used so frequently. Many search engines give you stupid links that have nothing to do with what you want. For words, yes, you can use dictionary.com and other websites like that, but for phrases, those websites are totally useless.

I agree with tomr on the fact that freshman have a lot of passion for debate. It is in our nature to debate things. And, if we have the passion to debate shouldn’t we be able to use the resources to support our debates with others’ ideas?

I completely agree with Mphair on the point that different people learn different ways. I think it also depends on how organized a person is. I personally am not very organized when it comes to keeping track of papers, so therefore love having a USB drive that I can always keep with me and not lose anything.

Matt W said...

Without taking a side (or stance rather) in this discussion, I would simply like to play Devil's Advocate. I'd like to see responses from both stances to these questions relating to the situation of a power outage:
- Would our writing skills (Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation etc.) suffer?
- Would our access to knowledge be substantially limited (The Encyclopedias in the Library don’t need electricity.)?
- How would we make up for all our work being electronic, and therefore inaccessible without electricity?

As a last note, I have noticed that many of you have proclaimed the ease of a USB Jump-Drive with your files on it. What would happen if you lost that Jump-Drive? Would what seemed like safety, be ultimately the total loss of the files you intended to protect?

Once again I ask that you not judge my stance in the matter based on the questions posed. Rather I would like to see them cause both sides to address possible problems. Either way, all I can truly hope for is that they continue this discussion, and help new ideas to be formulated.

Lastly, completely unrelated (Or is it?) I recommend to everyone that once you have typed a post, copy/paste it into MS Word (Or other Word Processing Software) and spell/grammar check your post. I do this with everything I post simply because I make errors like everyone else. It's very quick and convenient.

BenH said...

Joanneh: It is not hard to publish false information in books. For example, take the very controversial book A Million Little Peices. Are you a scientologist? If not, then you probably beleive that the information in Dianetics is false. There are plenty of other examples I can cite were false information has been published. It is just harder to publish anything in a book.

Hikingout said...

Will H

Okay, I finally found some time to read some of your comments so I will generalize some answers because most of the arguments being made are the same or similar. Please read them, although I may not have answered you directly, I probably answered your comments somewhere in this blog.

By the way, Ben is right, we should start a sequel to this blog; call it learning and laptops2 or something like that to keep this manageable.

First off, there is no such thing as reliable information, statistics and numbers are skewed and anything and everything can be debated, even math. Ask your math teacher why on just about anything and you are either bound for entertainment or suspension. Anyways, just because it is published does not mean that it is true.

Second, internet access makes students more DEPENDENT not INDEPENDENT. The internet teaches students to do all of their research on the internet. Even though not all books are reliable, the fact that a book was published does mean that the author thought that what they were writing was important enough to make a significant monetary investment in. Experts are necessary for research papers, but research is something that is required occasionally in the classroom but most often out of school; the integration of laptops should not be based upon research efficiency but based upon their improvement of the learning environment. As I have explained in the above blogs, laptops do not create a positive learning environment. Efficiency is not an argument that should be considered in this debate because laptops do not improve learning efficiency only research efficiency. Besides, the computer labs at Arapahoe are more than sufficient to meet the research needs of the school.

Third, To AYLA: No I am not implying that freshmen and sophomores are not intellectually ready for laptop integration I am saying it directly to you. If you think back to elementary school the difference between freshmen and juniors now would be the difference between fifth and third graders or eighth and sixth grade. There is a significant difference solely because of time and education between the freshmen and junior mind. This is not an insult but an analysis. Do you really think that in eighth grade you were no more mature, better educated, and able to think at an intellectually higher level than sixth graders? You will also notice that the government agrees with me on this one too because the right to vote is reserved for those who have finished or are about to finish their education (age 18).

Fourth, I was not lazy when I forced my way through reading books freshmen and sophomore years. What I did was instead of using a dictionary or the internet for every word or event I did not understand, I simply used the context of the event or word to figure out the true meaning. It was a way that I learned to maximize my time and become more efficient. The reason that this efficiency is different from the efficiency that Ben outlines is that I had to learn and create a system for myself to become more efficient while computers make people more efficient simply because they are faster. Computers don't require the same problem-solving challenges that are required in their absence. Hard work forces students to create their own systems to become more efficient.

Fifth, to KJERSTINEL, from your blog it appears that you already have a dependence on computers. Computers are a tool and should not be used as a crutch. The best thing that this school could do for you is to reduce your dependence on computers.

Sixth, the fact that computers are used a lot is not a strong argument. Quite honestly, someone could learn to do what we do on computers in less than a year. NO ONE NEEDS A LIFETIME OF COMPUTER USE TO USE A COMPUTER EFFECTIVELY.

To sum up I will now answer Matt W's questions. No, writing skills will not suffer with the integration of laptops. What writing by hand does do however, is force the writer to make every word count and plan ahead because most people (including myself) can type vastly faster than they can write. The only way I can keep up with a computer in note taking is by omitting vowels and only writing important points. Knowledge access would not be limited at all because all information that is not accessible during class would be accessible after school. While I do not believe that the decision over whether or not to have laptops in the classroom should be made over a possible loss of electricity, it does not make sense to train people to be completely reliant on laptops.

Just to put a thought in all of your heads. By blogging here and saying that laptops cause the destruction of discussion, a thought is put into your heads that guarantees that discussion will go on in the classroom because students and teachers will fear its destruction. Funny,huh?

kjerstinl said...

First, I'll comment to emilyl. Who says that you're computer is old if you don't have publisher or moviemaker??? Mine only has word and excel, no powerpoint. It's not like we use moviemaker or publisher for homework. Frankly, we don't even use powerpoint for homework. Also, if it's such a hindrance to work from home, work at school, or the library. The computer area is much quieter and faster.

Matt w: You can lose anything, you have chances of losing your paper or notes in the first place.
I agree with ben h so much, that it's crazy. I believe that he has such valid points on everyones different ways of learning, and it's just exactly what I think.

Adriana, I agree with you when you say that we do act out in class because we do! There has been one occaison where we haven't acted out, and that is when we were reading by ourselves. So for those who are out there saying that acting would be SO much better, you must forgetting that we already do that!

BenH said...

Thanks for the support Will. I was originally suggesting just a new post, but I think an entire blog devoted this general debate about technology could definitely be productive.

On wills first point, I think for serious research books and the internet should be used in conjunction. As they say, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

I think that by increasing research efficiency, laptops have the potential to increase learnin efficiency. If you spend n hours researching, then you begin to formulate ideas or opinions or anything like that, you have a larger knowledge base to pull from. Or if you do the same amount of research, you have more time left to spend developing ideas. No matter which way you go, you can use the time gained from researching efficiently to develop better, more complete ideas.

I disagree with will on his second point, though. I think it is obvious that as school goes on, people get smarter. That is basically the point of education. But I would say that the vast majority of freshman are ready for laptop integration at this point. Based on my observations, I think that we have already developed the skills necessary to use laptops effectively. Obviously all of our skills are not developed to the level that some of an upperclassman's might, but I don't think that the laptops will prevent us from further developing our abilities.

On the fourth point, I think there is too much importance placed on working hard. Yes, it is important to develop your own methods to make yourself efficient; everyone is different. But I think if you developed your own method that involved using a laptop or a computer, then you would be more efficient if you used only computers or only a plan. As I have said together, laptops are even better when used in conjunction with other things. Like books and critical thinking.

On the sixth issue, I agree that it does not take a lifetime of computer use to learn how to use a computer effectively. But the more you do, the better you get. And that gives you a competitive edge over those who do not know how to use a computer as well.

I am not sure if i completely understand Will's final point, but I do not think that this discussion of how laptops will destroy discussion have spurred the teachers into action to prevent the destruction of discussion. It seems to me that discussion is alive and healthy.

BenH said...

Emily, I agree with kjerstinl. I don't recall us ever having to use moviemaker or publisher or even powerpoint in our homework. The only thing I think we have been required to use computers for is blogging and typing. Blogging does not have to take long, and it can be easily done during one off hour. And typing is possible on any computer, because both pcs, macs, and even linux have native text editors in them. So your computer seems perfectly adequate to me.

I am very glad that you agree with me kjerstinl. I agre with you a lot too.

I also agree with adrianag that we act things out. Unless you've been asleep or otherwise incapacitated in Ms. Smith's class, you would have to notice it. But I still think it would be beneficial to see proffesional actors act out the entire play. With all due respect, they are better actors than us (thus, "proffesional) and it would help put things into perspective.

BenH said...

Now I would like to answer Matt w's questions.

- Would our writing skills (Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation etc.) suffer?
I definitely think so. Since lights use electricity, it would be dark. And I have found through experience that when I cannot see my hands, my spelling, grammar, and punctuation suffer. I might be able to move outside or to a window. But if it dark outside, it won't help. And it might be cold outside, or really windy. Such environments are not were I create my best work.

- Would our access to knowledge be substantially limited (The Encyclopedias in the Library don’t need electricity.)?
I think it would be, at least until the power outage stopped. Encyclopedia are a good source, but there are some things they can't do. Like emilyl said, it is sometimes beneficial to look at the webstie of an organization you are researching. There are many other examples too. And I am also not very good at reading in the dark, and that would make it hard to use print sources.

- How would we make up for all our work being electronic, and therefore inaccessible without electricity?
I don't think we would have to make up for it. Assuming this is a normal power outage (i.e. that kind that doesn'tlast forever) we could just wait. Otherwise, I guess there's not much we could do. But a permanent power outage would cause bigger problems than just a lack of a way to get your homework turned in.

-What would happen if you lost that Jump-Drive? Would what seemed like safety, be ultimately the total loss of the files you intended to protect?
I would be in trouble for the day, but I could always lose a peice of paper or a binder, and I would be in the same situation. It would be gone forever. Unless I had it backed up! Digital files are easily copied, and I always have a backup copy of what is on my thumbdrive. That is something I cannot do with paper documents like worksheets.

Hope that answers everything, Matt. Good questions.

tomr said...

I must address a point of Will's here. Technology is a vastly important tool to be able to use efficiently. Today, America's global economic position is being challenged more than ever before. In the present highly competitive job market, you are likely to be left in the dust if you do not have the technological savvy to do work efficiently. Really, this is as much of a life skill as any.

Hikingout said...

Will H

Was "learnin efficiency" on purpose or a joke, either way it's funny :). Anyways, it is necessary to separate blogging from laptops, as many of you have pointed out, you do not blog in class, it is done out of class, therefore it is not a benefit of laptops.

How long did it take all of you to learn how to use a computer? How long if you all had known how to spell read and write ALREADY would it have taken you (I mean read and write well)? I would say that anyone with good reading and writing skills could learn to use a computer proficiently within one year and be advanced in computer use within two years. You all also seem to forget that the programs we have now are very different from programs 10 years ago, they built on each other, but powerpoint and similar programs did not even exist yet, it really does not matter if you know how to use a computer effectively right now if computers will be different in the future. Growing up with a computer and having a few courses in high school on how to use a computer (ICA) are basically equivalent.

EmilyL said...

For anyone who is commenting on my computer's lack of publisher, moviemaker, etc.. these are merely programs that Ms. Smith talks about using in class and eventually on homework. I was trying to make a point that not all students have the resources to do extensive things on the computer.
As for doing during computer work during an off hour, anyone who has ever been in the library during an off hour knows that getting a computer is almost impossible.

JoanneH said...

Benh said, “Many other students have shwon that the laptops have been great instructional and educational tools for them. I do not think it is fair to sacrifice their opportunity just because they do things differently than you. By all means, do things your way. But let others do things theirs, even if that means using a laptop.”

I see what you’re saying, and actually this occurred to me after I had added those comments. You’re right; it is unfair to everyone else to abolish the use of laptops in the classroom. I just don’t like that everyone is expected to use the computers. I think we should have a choice. However, I would warn you:

kurt w said, “Personally, I am quite excited to be the "Guinea Pigs" for this great laptop experience. Sure there are some mistakes or glitches in the system.”

Realize that being the mistakes could set us back in college. Take the Discovery (for elementary) and IMP (Integrated Math Program for high school) math program example. The District wanted everyone to use these programs. When they are used, the students are told to get in a group and solve a problem based on prior knowledge. A discovering subtraction would read, “There are six apples. Bob eats two of them. How many are left?” This is a word problem used traditionally after subtraction is taught, but Discovery uses it to teach subtraction. The programs also teach several different ways on how to line up problem, not necessarily just vertical. Littleton High was going to use all IMP, but their enrollment went way down, and they reintroduced a traditional track.

These programs have been tried in the Eastern United States. The students who were they’re “guinea pigs” mostly ended up in remedial math courses in college. My neighbor also took an IMP geometry course a couple years back and had to retake the course the next year because she didn’t understand it. The “experiment” set her back a year in math.

I don’t want to end up taking or retaking courses because someone decided to experiment with my education without my consent or agreement. I agree, people should be able to learn they way they learn best, but we shouldn’t be required to use the laptops in class as I feel I am.

I have also noticed that the laptops have made it possible for us to do a lot of group projects. Again, this comes under the category of learning the best way for yourself. I abhor group projects. I think one or two each semester is good for developing skills with working with other people, but I disagree with a project every week. The laptops have given us the resources to do research in the classroom on our project. When, you are dependent on other people to finish a project, you get plenty of group dynamics, but no personal skills.

Benh said, “You also wonder how much your classmates really understand of Macbeth because you read it again after you get home. What does this have to do with laptops?”

Just so you know, sometimes I go off on a tangent and forget to explain myself. If I do, ask me what I was thinking, like what Ben did here. This statement had to do with laptops because we use our online text with the computers. kurt w said, “How amazing would it be to read the play and have what Shakespeare really meant right next to the text?” In the book we were given at school, there is an interpretation of the text on the opposite page from the text. This feature can be found online, I’m sure, but it wasn’t on most of the texts I looked at when I was searching for the USB Act II. There is no interpretation on the laptops at school. I’m also not saying that other people don’t go home and reread Macbeth.

JoanneH said...

In response to the questions:
Would our writing skills (Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation etc.) suffer? Yes , I think so. When I type, I tend to switch letters around. That never happens when I write on paper.
Would our access to knowledge be substantially limited (The Encyclopedias in the Library don’t need electricity.)? Yes. If there weren’t any books, then the systems would be down. WE use the computer in Biology a lot for worksheets and the like that my teacher has posted on the website. If the electricity were to go down, the planned activities would be useless because we wouldn’t have the access to them.
How would we make up for all our work being electronic, and therefore inaccessible without electricity? We wouldn’t. Ben said that most power outages aren’t permanent, and they aren’t. But if power were to go down for several hours or several days like the blackouts in New York City, it would be impossible to regain that loss of time. Flashlights or candles could be used to paperwork; they couldn’t be used for things only on the internet, unless there was a backup power source, like a battery. Now, we’d spend several hours sitting in the dark doing nothing but socializing because we don’t have the backup power.
What would happen if you lost that Jump-Drive? Unless you had saved your files on a hard drive either at school or at home, you would lose those files and your little gizmo. I do lose loose notes on paper, but I don’t lose binders or notebooks. I prefer to take my notes in a spiral, but that’s another one of those learning preferences. Losing the jump drive might not be where the problems end. Last night, I watched a movie based on a true story called “The Dish” about airing man’s first step on the moon. The power went out, and they lost everything on the hard drive of their computer. Granted, that was 1969 technology, but the possibility still exists today. It’s highly unlikely that your hard drive could be wiped on the same day you lose the jump drive, but it could happen.

BenH said...

Will: "learnin efficiency" was an accident. Guess I need to watch my typing more. But I agree blogging is seperate from laptops for the most part. Since we use it to continue in class discussions, we sometimes read them in class on the laptops to see how thing progressed overnight. But they are different.

Like you said, programs build on each other. So knowing how they work now will help you adapt to the next advance in computers. I learned how to use microsofts windowing system when I was in preschool. When windows 98 replaced 95, I moved seamlessly into it. I would not have been able to do so if I had not first learned 95.

joanneh: I'm glad my argument was convincing. But I think that the laptops are unlike IMP. They are not a total switch, but a modification. They are a much more minor changed compared to a whole new program. They let us do basically the same things in new and different ways. Like the word traces; those were done on paper before, but now they are digital.

I don't think that the laptops are to blame for the group projects. Those have been Ms. Smith's decision. I understand your disliking group projects, and do not find it at all unreasonable. However, just because we used laptops in group projects does not mean the projects were caused by the laptops. We could have done group projects with paper and pencil.

You also said it was beneficial to have the information provided by the books. In my opinion, you should be allowed to use the print version if that is what works best for you. The digital version works well for me, but I think print or digital should be a personal decision on something like this.

joanneh is right. You're hard drive could spontaneously die the same day you lose your thumb drive. It is also possible that I could get hit by a car crossing the street and all the ambulances will be busy. Does that mean I should never cross the street? Admittedly, that may be less likely, but the point is the same.

Also, the reason I brought up being in the dark is because we are already so relient on technology. Think about your entire day at school? What is powered by electricity from when you wake up to when you go to sleep? I gurantee you the answer is a lot, unless you are amish. I don't think this means that we should cease to use electricity. Like computers, we may be relient on it but it gives great rewards.

sarahc said...

On your argument that laptops create a negative learning environment: why?

Also, on your subject of what age we get to vote, I might point out that students in any kind of social studies class are going to know more about the laws being voted on than half the adults in America!

If the power goes out, it likely will not be a problem for long. (Unless there’s a big storm.) Most schools have electrical generators that keep things running when the power goes out. Anyway, the only computers that would suffer during a storm are the computers in the computer labs and the teachers’ computers. And every school would have a problem with that. Laptops are wireless and run on batteries. Even if they are plugged in, no one will be working on them, so won’t lose any work.
On the point that a USB might get lost, that’s why students should save all their work in three places: at home, on their USB, and on their school computer. That is also why the teachers advise getting an internet email account.

Mrs. Smith does give us the choice of whether or not to use the laptops. I don’t know if the other teachers do, but Mrs. Smith at least allows students to not use the laptops.

Karl Fisch said...

Just to be clear, Kurt's word choice of "guinea pigs" would not have been the words we would have used (although Kurt, I understand how you meant it). Yes, we are trying something new, but teachers try new things all the time to try to provide a better education for their students. We definitely don't view you as guinea pigs - we very carefully look at everything we do with the laptops (and everything else for that matter) and try to make the best decisions possible. Of course, that doesn't mean we always do, but "guinea pigs" implies a certain level of disregard for you that I don't think is present among the AHS staff.

On another note, are you guys really that concerned about an extended loss of electricity? And, yes, the laptops do run off batteries (for a while), but you would lose the Internet (since the network very definitely doesn't run on batteries).

BenH said...

I think that sarahc has an excellent point about the social studies students. On a somehwat off-topic note, I think it is sad how little that so many adults know about politics. In my opinion, making good educated decisions is critical to having a smoothly-functioning democracy.

And another good point by sarahc: the laptops run on batteries. I somehow managed to completely forget that. Thank you, sarahc. So we would still have some sort of computer.

And karl fisch, I don't think we are really too concerned about a power outage, we are just answering some "devil's advocate" questions posed by matt m.

JoanneH said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JoanneH said...

Mr. Fisch: Ms. Smith told us in class that we are effectively the guinea pigs for the District, who granted us the money to buy the new technology. While the teachers at AHS may not think of us in such terms, there are those who do.

Sarah: I implied that we don't have a choice to use the laptops, but I meant that we are expected to use them because we have access to them.

Ben: Once again, this is one of those tangents I mentioned in my earlier comment. The group projects are made easier and more convenient with the laptops in the classroom. The one the first week of school on the Elizabethan Era is an example of this. My group did most of the research in class through the web. While the group projects are the teacher's decision, they are easier to complete, and take less time, with the laptops in the classroom. This makes them more enticing and tempting.

BenH said...

joanneh: I don't think that just because we are expected to use the laptops we have to. As I've said before, I think there are some things where we should be able to choose to use them or not, like in reading Macbeth. And I agree with sarahc that I don't think we are required to read it digitally. And I don't think the expectation is so great that it would be hard not to use them on such things.

I also don't think that the laptops make group projects more tempting. I have done similar group projects before, except we just went to the computer lab or library. To test your assumption that they make it more enticing, and thus cause Ms. Smith to do more group projects, you should ask her whether she has done the project before she got laptops.

maria k said...

Will H:
You make a good point in that anyone who can read and write well should have no problem transferring it to computers, but I have to ask you: Why do some adults who have been through all of school and college still have trouble adjusting to computers? Sure, they can type, but that is only a small part of computer usage. They grew up using encyclopedia reference books and physical dictionaries and some are still stuck using those, verses us students who automatically go to dictionary.com or wikipedia to find a word (demonstrated by benh with "insinuating"). Look at how much time we are saving by being able to click a few times during class to find the meaning of one of Shakespeare's words. Also, we can dive deeper in the text to find the true meaning instead of just guessing the meaning by context clues. Instead of inferences, we can string together solid facts and find hidden meanings within a simple sentence. I agree that we shouldn’t depend 100% on computers, but if we were stuck with huge paper dictionaries in class, I doubt we would be as curious about the true meanings in the text because we’d have to hunt through a thousand pages for every word. We’re freshmen, don’t you think we’d eventually lose our curiosity after the third or fourth word? On the laptops, we can have multiple windows up with multiple words, all at the same time. The speed and convenience of the laptops is mentally encouraging and throws a new exciting and interesting spin on learning. These laptops provide a totally different classroom experience and we are energized everyday to explore Shakespeare and expand our vocabulary.

annes said...

I will clarify the use of guinea pigs on MOnday in class. No offense was intended to any of you. It was simply the way I wanted you to think of the class in terms of trying something new, opening yourself up to experiments with education. You are all doing a great job and I love to read the conversation that you are having. It helps to hear what you have to say about what is going on in class as well as providing reflection for both yourself as well as the teacher-that's me. I think I will sumbit a new post for the coversation to continue. Go look...

EmilyH said...
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EmilyH said...

Hey guys, i just thought I would say that everyone seems to be repeating themselves here. lets just say this. Laptops are an asset to the classroom as long as students can learn to use them solely as a tool, and not a crutch. Once students can stop relying on the internet to think for them, and use the internet solely for basic things one can use a dictionary or encyclopedia for, laptops will be amazing. Why then would you spend the money for laptops when you can just buy dictionaries? because the internet, unlike textbooks, does not go out of date. Because it is faster and easier, and i am certainly not saying we should rely on the internet because it is easy, we should all still learn how to do things without the use of technology so we can function without it. I will repeat myself again, computers and internet are an asset to the class only as long as the students can use it as a tool, as a means of giving them a boost to a higher level of thinking and new ideas, rather than as a second brain, something that they get all their answers from and can not function without. computers are wonderful tools, that can easily replace thinking, but as long as a student is careful not to use it as such it will be a new means of discovery. I think that everyone has made some good points in this discussion, but it is getting repetitive. i think we need a new subject to debate.

BenH said...