Remember the days when teachers wrote on blackboards with those little, white sticks called chalk? When I was in grammar school, it was considered a privilege if the teacher picked on you to take all the erasers outside and “clap” them. (That means we slapped the erasers together until there was no more chalk dust flying through the air)
We also loved being called on to erase the board in between subject changes. As we took out our English textbooks, one or two students would erase the math stuff from the board. Then we would take out our matching workbook and start the next hour’s lesson.
I’m bringing this up because we had back to school night this past week at my daughter’s middle school and it felt as if I walked through a time portal from my childhood memories into the future. We had to walk our child’s class schedule and sit in their desks, meet their teachers and learn about our kid’s projected year. Thus the time warp began…
There are no blackboards or chalk. There are no erasers. Teachers don’t hand out workbooks and there are no assignment pads (remember those?) Kids don’t use loose leaf and although I still buy them those marble notebooks, I have yet to see work in them. And speaking of teachers…most of my teachers were older and well, just older. At one point I got lost in the school and asked a student helper to direct me to my next classroom. She said, “I’ll walk you.” I thought it was sweet how she took the time to show me personally, until we walked in to the classroom together and she introduced herself as the teacher! Enough said.
There are chrome books instead of notebooks and tech books instead of textbooks. For the first five minutes of my daughter’s social studies class I thought her teacher had a serious lisp until I realized a tech book was a computerized interactive textbook. The students write their own notes in it. The book can read to them if they’re too tired to read it themselves. I think it can make spaghetti, too.
At home, kids look up all their assignments on their google classroom portal page. If they miss a day of school, no biggie, they just look up that teacher’s lesson plan and notes for that day.
Work is explained to the students on Smartboards, unlike blackboards. Smartboards are also interactive. It’s like watching movies in school, well probably not because the content is so boring, but it’s still a lot more entertaining than white chalk on a black board (and without the awful screeches)
Rubrics are used by schools to delineate criteria for grading. When I first heard the word, I thought they were teaching kids how to solve a rubik’s cube to test their critical thinking skills. I was obviously way off.
In art they are zentangling. Zentangling to me is trying to get the knots out of my daughter’s hair while remaining calm. Apparently that’s not what it means in art.
In my daughter’s ELA class, (that’s 2017 for English) her teacher told us that the kids were going to read the graphic novel version of The Tempest by William Shakespeare. My mind jumped to naked images of Miranda and Ferdinand along with other possible naked, cursing characters, until the teacher held up a copy of the book and I realized graphic novel meant comic-strip format.
(My mind usually goes to the gutter first before going anywhere else, sorry)
Anyway, I was instructed to go home and use really big words which my daughter can use for her WOW list. I was flattered that my daughter would say “wow” everytime I said a big word, but then I learned that a WOW word was short for “world of words” and my daughter was supposed to keep a list of words she didn’t know and look up their meaning.
So ended my back to school evening. I was more confused leaving than I was going but this is the world we live in now. At least I have happy memories of chalk dust, something no e-book, smartboard, tech book, virtual classroom, chrome book or access code could ever take away from me.