Really? That’s Your Solution?

I’ve been partying with my Nook today as I sit with mom.  It has ruined me, frankly, for any non-electronic magazine experience and this is entirely Wired’s fault.  Embrace technology?  You’ve done it.  Tablet Wired is an amazing periodical.  It helps that I (in Wired’s words) know about computers.  You know who doesn’t?  My students.

My poor students have extremely limited technological literacy and this is dangerous.  The Common Core Standards are being phased in and a large chunk of them is a move toward computer-based standardized testing.  I am not going to waste discourse on the inherent flaws (and blatant laziness) of standardized testing.  That is a separate battle.  I’m disgusted by the technological wave.

I have a smartphone, a laptop, an ereader/tablet, video game system, DVD player, and HD TV.  This is not bragging.  Many of my friends, colleagues, and acquaintances either have these things or the capability to have them (I’d suspend the TV if I was alone) so there’s no need.  You know who doesn’t?  My students.

As challenging and lame as standardized testing can be, there’s a nice simpleness when using a number 2 pencil.  Computerized testing adds and entirely new issue.  Students who don’t use computers regularly won’t do as well – they just aren’t that good at using computers.

You think I’m crazy.

You think I’m being silly.


I have a, frankly, brilliant young man in my classroom.  He reads at a high second grade level.  He aces all the math quizzes.  He’s taking down two-digit addition and subtraction.  On pencil/paper tests he does okay – undone by the inherent flaws of such assessments, but he can focus and get them done.

(Inherent flaws such as removing any sense of application – tests with multiple choice questions remove any real-world necessity for the skills being assessed, thus deleting desire to understand what is being learned – but that’s speculation for another day)

Put him on a computer.  Watch him flounder.  Despite the accessibility options of having the question read to him, he makes many mistakes.  Buttons get clicked on accident.  Wrong answers are picked because of unfair wording (bringing up images of a handle-bar mustached proctor, creating unfair questions).  The boy just doesn’t have the time spent on the computer to help him – the very use of the grey box is undoing his knowledge.

And in a few years, he’ll be expected to type.

Another boy plays during computer free time and somehow (due to an inability to remain still and focus) manages to disrupt his own websites by opening code-editing screens and clicking links non-stop.  This is a problem.

Now, this problem can be addressed with more computer time.  But we don’t have that.  We just don’t.  Especially not at the first grade level.  Even then – the students are using computers sized for adults.  This is a larger issue than you think it is.

Technological literacy is a huge thing.  Thank goodness for tablets which are far more intuitive – but we don’t have those.  What are we going to do?

Now, my problem is that I have no solution.  I barely have a well-articulated problem.  I only have a frustration – a room of first-graders who need the technological solutions provided by the cloud and a physical incapability to access them.  We don’t have the computers.  The computers we do have are ancient hulks, their Windows XP infrastructures creaking beneath behemoth websites and programs designed with 32 bits in mind.

We’ve developed a world where you must have a Bachelor’s degree, a well-equipped knowledge of computers, and disposable income just to earn disposable income to be happy (we think).

And I’m just really frustrated.

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