Monday, April 18, 2011

Code

Wanna know something else that is cool about teaching Seniors?  I can actually stop when a kid has a question that is somewhat unrelated to the subject matter.  Since Seniors don’t take standardized tests (except my AP Comp Gov Seniors), when a student has a question about something in my Economics class, we can actually stop and take time to investigate questions.

While we were discussing the history of Microsoft and looking at whether it could or could not be called a monopoly, I mentioned Firefox and the term “code”, as in the language used to create software and programs to run on a computer.  A vast majority of students, we are talking college prep students here, had no clue what code was.  We stopped and I brought up my homemade website and showed them what the site looked like in HTML.  Many of them were stunned.  They had no idea that a web browser simply translated HTML into a workable document.  It was a short five minute lesson on how software (and when I mentioned games it was like I had explained the universe to them) was created and functioned.  I learned Basic in 1986 in 6th grade because my mother worked for Advanced Micro Devices and one day told me that computers would be a whole lot more important in the future.  These students were the Internet Generation and no clue what made programs tick.

Earlier this week while watching the news, Chernobyl kept coming up as being connected to a similar event that is currently occurring at the Fukashima Plant in Japan.  The next day we spent the first ten minutes of class going over a Newshour video about current and past Chernobyl, and then we looked at a University of California-Berkeley study on Fukashima radiation on California vegetables.  It alleviated some fears for kids to know that the levels were so minute that their cell phone was probably doing damage. 

Yep, thanks to a lack of major testing, real stuff can be taught to students that are thirsting for knowledge.  I’m not saying that accountability isn’t good, but this is something to think about when you  have students take the umpteenth test.     

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