Monday, October 02, 2006

Under Pressure

First I should say that having laptops in the classroom has transformed my students' projects, engagement, and organization in positive ways that I hadn't anticipated, and I'm extraordinarily grateful for this.

But next I need to address some of the struggles I face almost daily because of being in a "laptop classroom." I feel some days that I'm letting down both my students and the other technology teachers because I'm not using the laptops daily in my classes. The only class that has used them each period has been my first hour class, but this will probably change once we start Fahrenheit 451. In my Honors American Literature classes, I use the laptops for only part of the period, maybe 2-3 times per week. I know that the technology has endless potential (not to mention that it was quite expensive), but I can't bring myself to make my class revolve around the laptops. Should I make this more of a priority? I hate to waste opportunities.

For example, I'm at the point in the semester where I'm beginning to introduce the philosophy book project to my sophomores. Last year, one of the greatest parts of this project was the freedom and individuality it encouraged. This year, I'm tempted to give them a little more structure for this project so that they use the technology at their fingertips. Between the blog, photostory, wikispaces, etc. etc. there is a plethora of exciting opportunities. But would this limit them or open new doors? Am I old fashioned for shutting my door to the laptops 2 days a week and having old fashioned activities?

One other confession...I love books. And I'm not talking about electronic books that talk to you and look up your vocabulary words. I love how paperback books feel in my hands. I love getting lost in libraries. I like falling asleep with a book open on top of my stomach or loosely clutched in my right hand. I am wary of a world where people like me are just getting older, and everyone else is content with the efficiency of their online texts. As much as embrace and value what the classroom set of laptops has brought to the classroom, and I would never want to go back to a classroom without them, I am scared of the holes that they leave.