From: Christie M. Thomas
Submit: Post Field Note
Date: 20 Nov 1996
Remote Name: tsa-45.ucsc.edu
Ariana - female - grade 5, Victor - male - grade 6, myself
Today I noticed the kids writing a lot of love letters on the computers. Victor was on one computer writing 'so and so LOVES so and so'. Ariana was on another computer writing the same thing. The kids have been really excited about love letter writing, printing them, and taking them to school the next day. Intially some of the kids had been very private with these notes, but as day passed and they noticed we (the undergrads) were not judgemental and were in support of whatever writing they were doing thy became more open with their letters. Today I went and sat next to Ariana. She was writing her love note in a drawing program and printing it out. I asked her if she knew how to draw a heart. She said she didn't. So I helped her experiment with the different drawing options to draw a heart around her text. The brush tool didn't draw the heart very well, so I thought about a graphic program I knew about on a different computer called Instant Artist that she could use to enhance her letter and add cool graphics to it. I asked her i she'd like to see it, she said yeah so I went to start it on one of the other computers. (that particular program is only on 3 of the computers). She came over and we worked together to redo that same love letter with graphics. The kids were trying to leave early so Ariana was not able to finish the picture. I had wanted her to be able to see the finished product before she went home (it was Friday) so I stayed at the computer and continued to add graphics to the picture ( hearts, a border, cupid, and other special effects). She was still in the building when I finished so I printed a copy and brought it to her in the other room where she and a number of other kids, and undergrads where doing a different activity. Ariana, and Victor (who wanted to take the picture for himself) became REALLY EXCITED. They rushed in the computer room and made multiple copies for each of them to take home.
I felt really good at the end of the day. The kids were really excited and I was a part of helping it happen. I noticed the kids were writing these notes using text only. They were very enagaged in them as evidenced by the long periods of time the spent composing them. While working with Ariana I wanted to help her do something fun, new, and challenging with this topic she's showed an interest in. Instant Artist was a means to build on it.
How do we build more on what kids "show us" they are interested in to help create a broader more extensive learning experience.
How far can/will this "building" process go? Graphically enhance text letters, then to composing whole letters/narratives in a word processing programs like Word (which is never used), to emailing etc. etc.
How much more lasting are things learned that have been developed through your own directed interests/ideas than are things learned that have been directed by and conceived by someone else (their agenda not your agenda). Or is there a difference?