When they ask for creative, just not computer creative

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A student told me she wanted to be creative, just “not computer creative.” It was a reality check, reminding me that not every lesson has to be technology-rich to have impact. (Flickr / Navy Hale Keiki School)

It hit me a couple days ago. It hit me on a day when things were going really well in all of my classes.

I was finding new ways to give my students choice, from choosing vocabulary for their lists in Spanish class to helping pick activities for lesson plans that week. (Recently, I decided that my one-word mission statement for the rest of the school year would be “voice” or “choice” for my students.)

I was finally hitting my stride after winter break.

(Side note: For some reason, on breaks longer than a week, I dread returning to school in fear that I’ve forgotten how to teach well. I’m not sure why this happens, but after summer break and winter break every year, I’m nervous that I’ve lost it for the first week or so of class. After that, I can feel that I’m back and life is back to normal.)

I had just finished a great class of conversations completely in Spanish during my Advanced Placement Spanish class. And just before the bell rang, I overheard one of my students talking about what she wanted to do in my class.

She said, “I want to be creative, just not computer creative.”

Boom. There it was.

“Not computer creative.”

I’m a guy who loves incorporating technology. I embrace creating a classroom that turns the previously inconceivable into the totally possible.

I mean, I kind of wanted to cuddle with the Chromebooks I got this school year for my classroom. (For the record, I did not.)

I pride myself on hosting a technology-rich, efficient class environment.

And then a student drops that bomb as she’s walking out of class … she wants to be “not computer creative.”

I really grappled with this one for a couple days. At first, I wanted to dismiss this student’s comment. “It was just an casually dropped line to friends,” I rationalized. “Maybe she didn’t mean it. Maybe she didn’t mean it like that.”

“Plus, it’s only one student. What kind of representative sample is that of the entire student population?”

This one passing comment made me go back to some fundamentals of teaching. Students learn in different ways, and it’s our job to help our students find them and learn with them as best as we can.

Some of my students love using technology. In fact, today — on the first day of my school’s “bring your own technology” rollout — one student was doing some multi-device work, looking up information on one device and entering data with another. Those guys can’t get enough. They’re probably in the minority, though.

Also in the minority — the ones that hate all technology. One girl that took Spanish from me for three years took every opportunity to tell me that she didn’t like using our computers and thought that all technology hated her, even her cell phone.

Those two groups may be in the minority, but they deserve to be represented.

A favorite catch phrase of many educators in online spaces and at conferences today is this: “Technology is a tool, not a learning outcome.”

My thoughts exactly. It’s a tool. More importantly, it’s not the only tool.

So, what am I going to do about this reality check? I’m going back to the drawing board. I’m going to find ways to help this specific girl be “not computer creative.” Plus, I’m going to find ways to let my other classes be “not computer creative” as well.

Why? It’s my classroom after all, right?

Well, not exactly. It may be my classroom, but it’s their education. If I’m investing in my students’ future (which is what we really do as teachers), I need to find what connects with them.

I’m not going to blow this comment off or let it slide off my back.

This student’s comment was a gift. A gift that she gave me that she didn’t even realize that she gave me.

She gave me a glimpse … a glimpse into what motivates her and what she wants her education to look like.

And shame on me if I take that gift for granted.

Let’s do some more “not computer creative.”

Question: What place does “not computer creative” have in classrooms? How do we manage the balance between it and incorporating game-changing technology? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Matt is scheduled to present at the following upcoming events:

 DateEvent / Event DetailsCity / More Info
+ 01/19/2015
Western Wayne (Ind.) SchoolsPershing, IN
 Full-day Seminar:Ditch That Textbook: Why and How?Private Event
+ 01/31/2015
9:00-12:00 p.m.
U. Indy's Power of Education ConferenceIndianapolis, IN
 Keynote:Ditch That Textbook: My JourneyPublic Event
Sponsor:University of Indianapolis Student Education AssociationRegister to attend
Venue:University of Indianapolis Schwitzer Hall Basement
Indianapolis, IN
+ 02/03/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
World Languages Workshop @ Lafayette Jeff HSLafayette, IN
 Venue:Jefferson High School
1801 S. 18th St.
Lafayette, IN 47905
765-772-4700
Private Event
+ 02/26/2015
9:00-4:05 p.m.
Indiana Conference on LearningIndianapolis, IN
 Workshop:Ditch That Textbook (et al)Public Event
Sponsor:American Student Achievement InstituteRegister to attend
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2544 Executive Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46241
317-248-2481
Get more information
+ 03/18/2015
08:00-04:00 p.m.
Fall Creek Intermediate School WorkshopFishers, IN
 Venue:Fall Creek Intermediate School
12011 Olio Road
Fishers, IN 46037
(317) 915-4220
Private Event
+ 03/19/2015
7:30-3:00 p.m.
Hamilton Southeastern (Ind.) SchoolsFishers, IN
 Full-day Seminar:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
+ 04/09/2015
04:00-06:00 p.m.
PVETI Social Media WorkshopRockville, IN
 Sponsor:Parke-Vermillion Education and Training Interlocal (PVETI)Private Event
Venue:Rockville High School
506 N. Beadle St.
Rockville, IN 47872
765-569-5686
+ 04/11/2015—04/12/2015
08:30-05:30 p.m.
Indiana Google Apps for Education SummitFranklin, IN
 Sponsor:EdTech TeamPublic Event
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2600 Cumberland Drive
Franklin, IN 46131
317-346-8100
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+ 05/01/2015
09:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ CIESCIndianapolis, IN
 Venue:Central Indiana Educational Service Center
6036 Lakeside Blvd., Building A
Indianapolis, IN 46278
317-759-5555
Public Event
+ 05/08/2015—05/09/2015
Education On Air by Google for Education 
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+ 05/08/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop (CIESC) 
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Ivy Tech Community College Tech Workshop 
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PowerED Up ConferenceLeopold, IN
 Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
Venue:Perry Central Jr/Sr HS
18677 Old State Road 37
Leopold, IN 47551
812-843-5576
+ 06/04/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
HSE Summer Learning FairFishers, IN
 Sponsor:Hamilton Southeastern SchoolsPrivate Event
Venue:Fishers High School
13000 Promise Road
Fishers, IN 46038
(317) 915-4290
+ 06/08/2015
Greencastle EdTech ConferenceGreencastle, IN
 Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
+ 06/10/2015
08:00-04:00 p.m.
Connecting the 4 C's Conference @ Mt. Vernon (Ind.)Mount Vernon, IN
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Venue:Mount Vernon High School
700 Harriett Street
Mount Vernon, IN 47620
812-833-5136
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+ 06/11/2015—06/12/2015
8:00-3:00 p.m.
Yorktown WeLearn ConferenceYorktown, IN
 Keynote:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
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1100 S. County Road 575 West
Yorktown, IN 47396
(765) 759-2550
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+ 06/15/2015—06/16/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Summer Spark SymposiumMilwaukee, WI
 Venue:University School of Milwaukee
2100 West Fairy Chasm Road
Milwaukee, WI 53217
414-352-6000
Public Event
+ 06/17/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
eLEAD Madison CountyAnderson, IN
 Sponsor:CAPE of Madison CountyPublic Event
Venue:Anderson University
1100 E. 5th St.
Anderson, IN 46012
+ 06/22/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Seymour Schools Tech WorkshopSeymour, IN
 Sponsor:Seymour Community SchoolsPublic Event
Venue:Seymour High School
1350 W. 2nd St.
Seymour, IN 47274
812-522-4384
+ 06/23/2015—06/24/2015
Digipalooza 2015Scottsburg, IN
 Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
Venue:Scottsburg Middle School
425 S. 3rd St.
Scottsburg, IN 47170
812-752-8926
+ 06/25/2015—06/26/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
South Vermillion trAnSfoRM ConferenceClinton, IN
 Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
Venue:South Vermillion High School
770 Wildcat Drive
Clinton, IN 47842
765-832-3551
+ 06/27/2015
09:00-03:00 p.m.
#ReadTL15 ConferenceReading, West Berkshire, UK
 Sponsor:Reading College (Reading, West Berkshire, United Kingdom)Public Event
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+ 06/28/2015—07/01/2015
ISTE Conference 2015Philadelphia, PA
 Full-day Seminar:Sharing Is Caring: Collaborative Google Apps ActivitiesPublic Event
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Venue:Pennsylvania Convention Center
1101 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
800-428-9000
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+ 07/08/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
USD 242 Weskan Schools Staff DevelopmentWeskan, KS
 Venue:Weskan Schools
219 Coyote Blvd.
Weskan, KS 67762
785-943-5222
Private Event
+ 07/22/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Northeastern Middle School WorkshopFountain City, IN
 Venue:Northeastern Middle School
7295 U.S. 27 North
Fountain City, IN 47341
(765) 847-1331
Private Event
+ 07/24/2015
08:00-3:00 p.m.
Greater Clark Connected ConferenceJeffersonville, IN
 Sponsor:Greater Clark County SchoolsPublic Event
+ 07/28/2015—07/29/2015
Catching the Wave of eLearningLafayette, IN
 Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
+ 07/30/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Seymour Schools Tech WorkshopSeymour, IN
 Sponsor:Seymour Community SchoolsPrivate Event
Venue:Seymour High School
1350 W. 2nd St.
Seymour, IN 47274
812-522-4384
+ 08/10/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Idabel Public Schools 
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+ 08/13/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Palmer ISD (Texas)Palmer, TX
 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
Venue:Palmer Independent School District
Palmer, TX
+ 08/18/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Brandywine Heights Area School DistrictTopton, PA
 Workshop:The Digital PIRATE 
Sponsor:Brandywine Heights Area School District
+ 09/08/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Cascade Middle SchoolClayton, IN
 Venue:Cascade Middle School
6423 S. County Road 200 West
Clayton, IN 46118
(317) 539-9285
Private Event
+ 09/15/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ SIECJasper, IN
 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:Southern Indiana Education Center
+ 09/23/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ WVECWest Lafayette, IN
 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
+ 09/24/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ CIESCIndianapolis, IN
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MSD of Steuben Co. (Ind.)Angola, IN
 Keynote:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
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weLEAD SymposiumIslamabad, Pakistan
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Islamabad, Pakistan
Pakistan
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08:00-03:00 p.m.
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 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
Sponsor:Anderson Community Schools
+ 10/07/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ Region 8 ESCDecatur, IN
 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
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+ 10/08/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ NIESCPlymouth, IN
 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:Northern Indiana Educational Services Center
Venue:Christo's Banquet Center
830 Lincolnway E, Plymouth
Plymouth, IN 46563
+ 10/12/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Tyler ISDTyler, TX
 Sponsor:Tyler Indpendent School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 10/15/2015—10/16/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
ICE Conference (Indiana)Noblesville, IN
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18111 Cumberland
Noblesville, IN
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+ 10/22/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Mt. Vernon CSC (Indiana)Fortville, IN
 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
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+ 11/10/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Cascade Middle SchoolClayton, IN
 Venue:Cascade Middle School
6423 S. County Road 200 West
Clayton, IN 46118
(317) 539-9285
Private Event
+ 11/11/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Hamilton Southeastern Schools (Indiana)Fishers/Noblesville, Indiana
 Full-day Seminar:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
Sponsor:Hamilton Southeastern Schools
+ 11/14/2015
09:00-02:30 p.m.
Northeast Literacy RetreatFort Wayne, IN
  Public Event
+ 11/17/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ ECESCConnersville, IN
 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:East Central Educational Service Center
+ 11/18/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook @ WCIESCGreencastle, Indiana
 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:West Central Indiana Educational Service Center
+ 11/19/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Elgin Local Schools (Ohio)Elgin, OH
 Sponsor:Elgin Local SchoolsPrivate Event
+ 01/13/2016
8:00am-3:00pm
Madison eLearningMadison, IN
  Private Event
+ 01/18/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Hudson ISD (Texas)Lufkin, TX
 Venue:Hudson Indpendent School District
6735 Ted Trout Drive
Lufkin, TX 75904
936-875-3351
Private Event
+ 01/26/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
South PutnamGreencastle, IN
 Sponsor:South Putnam SchoolsPrivate Event
+ 02/03/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Sheridan MS/HSSheridan, IN
 Sponsor:Sheridan Community SchoolsPrivate Event
+ 02/09/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Southern Indiana Education CenterJasper, IN
 Sponsor:Southern Indiana Education CenterPublic Event
Venue:Southern Indiana Education Center
1102 Tree Lane Drive
Jasper, IN 47546
812-482-6641
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+ 02/15/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Educational Service Unit #13Scottsbluff, NE
 Workshop:The Digital PIRATEPublic Event
Sponsor:Educational Service Unit #13
+ 02/16/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Rockford Public SchoolsRockford, MI
 Keynote:Ditch That Textbook!Private Event
Sponsor:Rockford Public Schools
+ 02/24/2016—02/25/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
ICE ConferenceSt. Charles, IL
 Sponsor:Illinois Computing EducatorsPublic Event
Venue:Pheasant Run Resort and Conference Center
4051 E. Main St.
St. Charles, IL 60174
(630) 584-6300
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+ 02/25/2016—02/26/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
ICE Conference (Illinois)St. Charles, IL
 Sponsor:Illinois Computing EducatorsPublic Event
+ 03/07/2016
01:15-03:30 p.m.
Mandan Public SchoolsMandan, ND
 Sponsor:Mandan Public School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 03/09/2016—03/11/2016
MACUL ConferenceGrand Rapids, MI
 Sponsor:Michigan Association for Computer Users in LearningPublic Event
Venue:DeVos Place
303 Monroe Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 742-6500
Register to attend
+ 03/14/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Concordia Lutheran HSFort Wayne, IN
 Sponsor:Concordia Lutheran High SchoolPrivate Event
+ 03/23/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Westwood Community School DistrictSloan, IA
 Sponsor:Westwood Community School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 04/13/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Wabash Valley Education CenterWest Lafayette, IN
 Workshop:Ditch That Textbook!Public Event
Sponsor:Wabash Valley Education CenterRegister to attend
Venue:Wabash Valley Education Center
3061 Benton Street
West Lafayette, IN 47906
(765) 463-1589
+ 04/18/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Monroe #1 BOCES (New York)Fairport, N.Y.
 Full-day Seminar:The Digital PIRATEPublic Event
Sponsor:Monroe #1 BOCES
+ 04/26/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Caesar Rodney School DistrictCamden, DE
 Keynote:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
Venue:Caesar Rodney High School
239 Old North Road
Camden, DE 19934
+ 05/03/2016
Paoli Community School CorporationPaoli, IN
 Venue:To be determined
Paoli, IN
Private Event
+ 05/25/2016
09:00-09:45 a.m.
Pacific Northwest Apprenticeship Education ConferencePortland, OR
 Sponsor:The Bureau of Labor and Industries, Oregon Building Congress and Oregon Tradeswomen Inc.Public Event
Venue:DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Conference Center
1000 NE Multnomah Street
Portland, OR
Register to attend
+ 05/31/2016
10:30-12:00pm
West Central Career CooperativeCrawfordsville, IN
 Venue:Crawfordsville Country Club
Crawfordsville, IN
Private Event
+ 06/06/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
PowerED Up ConferenceLeopold, IN
 Venue:Perry Central Schools
18677 Old State Road 37
Leopold, IN 47551
(812) 843-5576
Public Event
+ 06/07/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Making a Splash with Digital Learning ConferenceBatesville, IN
 Venue:Batesville Community School Corporation
626 N. Huntersville Road
Batesville, IN 47006
(812) 934-2194
Public Event
+ 06/08/2016—06/09/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ignite Your SuperpowerLafayette, IN
 Venue:Sunnyside Intermediate School
530 N 26th St
Lafayette, IN 47904
(765) 771-6100
Public Event
+ 06/13/2016—06/14/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Summer Spark (Wisconsin)Milwaukee, WI
 Sponsor:University School of MilwaukeePublic Event
+ 06/15/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
REMAST Conference (South Dakota)Brookings, S.D.
 Sponsor:South Dakota State Noyce Scholarship ProgramPublic Event
+ 06/20/2016
Indianapolis Sister Cities Int'l ConferenceIndianapolis, IN
 Keynote:Connecting Your Classroom to the WorldPublic Event
Sponsor:Indianapolis Sister Cities InternationalRegister to attend
Venue:Covenant Christian High School
7525 W. 21st St.
Indianapolis, IN 46214
+ 06/22/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Western North Dakota ESADickinson, ND
 Workshop:The Digital PIRATEPublic Event
+ 06/26/2016—06/29/2016
ISTE ConferenceDenver, CO
 Venue:Colorado Convention Center
700 14th St.
Denver, CO 80202
Public Event
+ 07/12/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
MSD of MartinsvilleMartinsville, IN
 Sponsor:MSD of MartinsvillePrivate Event
+ 07/13/2016—07/14/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Pulaski County Special School DistrictLittle Rock, AR
 Sponsor:Pulaski County Special School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 07/18/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Sheridan/Hamilton HeightsSheridan, IN
  Public Event
+ 07/19/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Launching INquiryFishers, IN
 Venue:Fishers High School College & Career Academy
13000 Promise Rd
Fishers, IN 46038
Public Event
+ 07/20/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Blended Learning SummitSalina, KS
 Sponsor:Smoky Hill Education Service CenterPublic Event
Venue:Smoky Hill Education Service Center
605 E. Crawford
Salina, KS 67401
785-825-9185
+ 07/21/2016
08:30-04:00 p.m.
iPadpaloozaEastTXLongview, TX
 Keynote:Ditch That Textbook!Public Event
Sponsor:Region 7 Education Service CenterRegister to attend
Venue:Pine Tree High School
900 Northwest Drive
Longview, TX 75604
(903) 295-5031
Get more information
+ 07/22/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Tyler ISDTyler, TX
 Sponsor:Tyler ISD 
+ 07/25/2016—07/26/2016
E3 Technology ConferenceWarsaw, IN
 Venue:Warsaw High School
1 Tiger Lane
Warsaw, IN 46580
(574) 371-5098
Public Event
+ 08/01/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Catholic High SchoolNew Iberia, LA
 Sponsor:Catholic High SchoolPrivate Event
Venue:Catholic High School
1301 de La Salle Drive
New Iberia, LA 70560
+ 08/05/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Fort Wayne Lutheran Schools PartnershipFort Wayne, IN
 Sponsor:Fort Wayne Lutheran Schools PartnershipPrivate Event
+ 08/09/2016
Southwest School CorporationSullivan, IN
 Venue:Southwest School Corporation
110 North Main Street
Sullivan, IN 47882
(812) 268-6311
Private Event
+ 08/11/2016
Groesbeck ISD Tech ConferenceGroesbeck, TX
 Keynote:Ditch That Textbook!Private Event
Venue:Groesbeck Independent School District
1202 N. Ellis
Groesbeck, TX 76642
(254) 729-4100
+ 08/15/2016
Beggs Public SchoolsBeggs, OK
 Venue:Beggs Public Schools
1201 West 9th
Beggs, OK 74421
(918) 267-3628
Private Event
+ 08/16/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Etoile ISDEtoile, TX
 Sponsor:Etoile ISDPrivate Event
+ 08/17/2016
8:00-3:00 pm
Tech Academy 
  Private Event
+ 08/22/2016—08/23/2016
West Central School DistrictHartford, SD
 Venue:West Central School District
705 E. 2nd St.
Hartford, SD 57033
(605) 528-3217
Private Event
+ 08/24/2016
8:00am-3:00pm
Walled Lake Consolidated School District 
  Public Event
+ 08/25/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Hillsboro School DistrictHillsboro, OR
 Sponsor:Hillsboro School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 08/29/2016
8:00am-3:00pm
Service Learning School DistrictDetroit, MI
 Sponsor:Service Learning School District 
+ 09/16/2016
New Prairie High SchoolNew Carlisle, IN
 Venue:New Praire High School
New Carlisle, IN
Private Event
+ 09/19/2016
Big Walnut Local SchoolsSunbury, OH
 Workshop:The Digital PIRATE: Tech Like a PIRATEPrivate Event
Venue:Big Walnut Local Schools
36 Harrison St
Sunbury, OH 43074
(740) 965-3205
+ 09/20/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
NH Best Practices in Curriculum, Assessment and Assessment ConferenceConcord, NH
 Sponsor:New Hampshire School Administrators AssociationPublic Event
Venue:Grappone Conference Center
Concord, NH
+ 10/12/2016—10/13/2016
Mississippi Bend Area Education AgencyBetterdorf, IA
 Sponsor:Mississippi Area Bend Education AgencyPrivate Event

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6 thoughts on “When they ask for creative, just not computer creative

  1. Would be interesting to talk to her to find out what she meant by it… Sometimes students say a thing but they’re struggling to express themselves and it doesn’t come out quite right. But you raise a great point – many ways to learn and reach students.

  2. Yes. Not everything is technology. When we focus only on technology tools, we limit ourselves (and, ultimately, our students).

    I try to ask myself and the teachers I work with – why am I choosing to use tech (or not) in any particular instance? I focus on starting from the competency we are developing and what kind of evidence I need to see that it is being developed, then I brainstorm or choose a number of tools that will help to spotlight that evidence. Then I let my students choose – the focus is on the learning not the tool. If I find that students are choosing the same methods over and over again, I have a conversation with them about it. An alternative could also be to have *some* choice – for example, you can choose how to demonstrate your knowledge/skills but at least x amount of times must be with tech.

    Basically, your student led you back to your mission!

  3. Hey Matt, I get reminded of this every year. There are always a few kids each year who mention to me their discomfort, unease, or downright dislike of using, working with or learning with technology. There are also a few, like you mentioned, who love the ways I integrate technology or just plain have technology for them to work with. The rest of the kids end up somewhere in between the two extremes but really it’s those who don’t like technology that keep me up at night.

    What I have to keep reminding myself to help me feel better is that in Science we do have times where we don’t need technology. When we do labs, unless we need a stop watch or timer app, we do hands-on work with no tech. I used to try and go paperless but have found that some tasks, formative assessments, and even surveys are much easier done on paper (I’m trying not to use Google Forms for everything!). Those kids who don’t like tech remind me that if it’s easier to do with paper, use the paper! I also use our Science textbook because it’s mostly a lab manual and some kids feel more at ease with a book. And for Scientific drawings notebooks are the way to go because not everybody like drawing apps. For those that do, I have them so they can use them. As much as I like kids putting their drawings on their blogs it’s just as easy to take a photo of a notebook drawing as it is to upload a computer drawn drawing.

    I also remind myself and sometimes remind those students who complain about all the tech we use that I’m the only teacher using all this tech so they still get all their other classes to work in with little to no tech. Some students have complained that they like Science but can’t do well because of all the tech we use. That I find disturbing and handle it a different way. I work with those students to convince them they just need training on how to use the tools, tools they will most likely be asked to use in the future, so they can show what they are learning and not be hindered. I put on my salesman hat and show videos and share data explaining how technology is used to connect, collaborate, communicate, create and get work done. I’ve been showing my students that we’re learning valuable skills when we use technology and that we’re not just using tech for tech’s sake. It’s always for a purpose even if that purpose is to be more efficient (like me taking my laptop home to read student work instead of 80 Science notebooks).

  4. I just love your heart as a teacher, Matt. You inspire and challenge me, dear friend. You are exactly right- it’s about balance and variety. We are a 1:1 laptop school, and the first year we pushed the digital envelope and tried to go as paperless as possible, doing everything with technology. The past 2 years we have embraced E-Learning, more technology. But I’m finding myself going “unplugged” for a few days here and there with students to let them embrace other sides of their learning- hands on, creative, experiences, simulations, games. I love my technology, but even I had to unplug (I got a little too into winning on Trivia Crack and Quiz Up- the competition always at my fingertips was stressing me out). It’s fun for me to create a learning situation and to jump in with the class- to just “play” with the students (in 6th grade, we so miss our recess time) and embed learning into it- that “not computer creativity” your student mentioned- truly a gift. You are such a wise, wise teacher to realize and accept her suggestion! (Even in a world technology rich and without textbooks, I love your quote- “technology is a tool, not a learning outcome.”)

  5. I agree that “not computer creative” is an important part of what kids need to be able to do. Hands on creations are also a way to show what a student has learned.

  6. This is a great comment from a student and as we are all humans, it should not be a surprise. We have so many students picking up crochet, woodworking, sculpture, sewing and more because they are tactile. As humans, we want to experience creativity in all our senses. There is nothing like the smell of paper mache or sawdust. There is nothing like the feel of well sanded wood or a soft yarn. Kids are more than ever drawn to these arts because of the senses. Computers only give us visual and sound, nothing more.
    There were two weeks in my teaching that I termed “no tech” weeks. In one, my students created a scale model with clay and rulers to represent the Panama Canal. We did all the research the week prior and then – no tech, none. They had to use paper and pencil for their math, rulers and yes, their hands in the clay. The other week was devoted to a poster which required drawing only. I found these two weeks really challenging because I had to teach without tech as well. (I followed my own rules.) We did skits, read aloud, looked at evidence and debated, but I never projected anything.
    Try it. You will find it liberating and it puts a true perspective on what is best with tech and what is best suited to our human senses.