Everyday Classroom Life on The Internet
(and what it takes to stay there)

Abstract:

Every student has a right to develop the strong foundation required to confidently and comfortably use technology as a tool for learning. Numerous efforts have focused on specific computer skills and proficiencies, which are important, but subordinate to a broader understanding of when and how to apply these tools, much as the new Mathematics Standards bring relevance to "real life" situations into instructional objectives.

For the past 5 years, Ferdi Serim has lived and worked in a classroom environment where students enjoy nearly ubiquitous high speed connectivity. While many people wrestle with which network access solutions, hardware, software, lab vs. classroom configurations and other technology issues, Ferdi's concerns increasingly return to the fundamentals. If students can't read, write or think, the Internet is largely useless.

As one teacher with 700 students who are children, and 300 students who are teachers, he faces fundamental questions as well: how can time, talent, energy and money be organized to support the needs of a learning community in transition? His answers, and the questions they engender, go to the core of public education: only by examining our purpose can we make use of the potentials now being presented.

Overarching Goal: Teaching Students to THINK

As a mirror for the mind, the computer reflects the our mental organization, interests and habits. No matter what specific forms these may take, an inquiry based curriculum includes the following common elements:

Ferdi's presentation shows how daily pursuit of these "Higher Order Thinking Skills" establishes a continuity between current research on how people learn and Francis Bacon's observations on the scientific method. Tools exist for each of these activities, as well as real life strategies for both students and teachers to become aware of their choices, in order for the technology to serve as a tool to extend thinking and communication, and to transform data to meaning.