Media Matters

"I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Last week, a little alumni student dropped by CHP for a visit. We sat chatting together on the red couch in my office. She noticed the iPad on my desk and asked to see it. Mommy had an iPad at home. There was no time to prepare; this was my first teaching encounter with this "newfangled" device and a child! There is a term used for people born after the invention of certain technological devices. I am a "Digital Immigrant," children born after the advent of certain new devices are known as "Digital Natives." That iPad was on my desk because this "Digital Immigrant" purchased four iPads this summer for all our curious CHP students.

It's not like media and technology is anything new to CHP. I have been introducing "new" technology for many years. When I became the school's director almost twenty years ago, only a few preschools had web sites. (Admitting I am partial, few schools have web sites like ours!) Not too long after my appointment as director, we had our web site and a vibrant parent/school email system followed. There are so many new technological advances and devices at CHP which were not even invented when I was in school! My teachers have had one classroom lap top and this year, they will have two. With that one lap top, teacher guidance, and their imaginations, children did things like chose photos for the menu of the "Cobble Hill Gang Restaurant," make classroom lotto games, and look at images of polar bears, African dancers, and trains around the world.

Last year, I spoke with one of our parents who works with university professors designing systems for their media needs. He kindly lent me a iPad for the teachers to experiment with in the classroom. One day last spring, a grandma dropped off her granddaughter and a little snail. In the wink of an eye, it was time to learn about snails because the children were curious about this little creature. What did it eat? How does it live? Out came the iPad and in a split second, that iPad screen held all the answers. This year, we will have the capacity to project iPad images on the wall, as large as can be.

Getting back to the curious student sitting with me on my red couch, I picked up the iPad and scanned the free Apps I had downloaded when I was experimenting. I wanted to find something on the iPad that might interest her. I zeroed in on Google Earth. In moments, we made the world spin...because the world does spin! We saw how blue the water was that covered so much of the earth. We looked at the United States and then New York and then Brooklyn and then we found her house...and we looked at the things that were sitting on her roof deck!  With one finger, I showed her how I walk to school, where the park was and the distance between her house and mine. It was such an amazing experience and it did not end. Her next question was, "Carol, where is Africa?"

Lessons learned? Oh SO many!

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