Since my very first day of teaching over 20 years ago, I’ve always wanted to try to provide opportunities for my students (and now my own kids) to be creative. What I love about the digital age is the number of options and tools that are now available for kids. I distinctly remember helping my students edit videos using a dual VCR bay. It was a tedious process that included many hours of looking at video frame by frame resulting in mostly mediocre results. It was good. We were learning and we told stories that we were proud of. Today, I have more power in my cell phone than those video bays could have given me and my students.
Last night I had another reminder of the power of technology in the lives of today’s youth. My son, Max, is 11 years old and has always been interested in music. From the time he struggled to get out of his stroller to dance at a music festival, to his guitar lessons a few years ago, and now as he has started to play the trumpet in the middle school band, music has always been a part of him. His twin sister, Molly, has also been interested in music and is now a flutist and practices far more than I ever did as a kid learning saxophone. As they were practicing their instruments, they decided to get together and write some music. They put together a song (with different parts for trumpet and flute) and immediately wanted to document it. Getting online they found a staff and wrote out the notes to their new song and played through it together a few times. Not only were they excited about their creation, they felt that they could do more but that the tedious nature of writing and rewriting the notes on the scale “just wasn’t efficient.” The next thing I knew Max is calling me from the front room asking if he can download the trial of Finale software to his computer so he could compose. He did and shortly thereafter, a song was created.
What strikes me about this is that, while these creations may have occurred without the technology, they took it a giant step further because of it. They were able to express themselves creatively and without my guiding them, step by step, through a process. They were empowered, excited, and made something that was meaningful to them and they were proud of.
Over the last two weeks, I’ve been regularly asked why I want to serve on the ISTE Board of Directors. Watching my kids last night only serves as reinforcement as to why I find this work so important. Looking at the ISTE Standards for students, the work that they did last night represents every one of the criteria and standards in some way. ISTE is leading the way in this work and helping to give kids like mine the opportunity to think critically and be creators of their own destiny. This work is vital to the educational environment and ISTE must continue to lead through professional development, advocacy, and innovation so that kids are natural creators.
If you’re interested in learning more about the work of the ISTE Board of Directors and the upcoming election, visit http://www.iste.org/about/board-of-directors/elections to meet the candidates. Voting starts November 9th for all ISTE members.