Do your kids turn to technology for class projects?

About a week ago my 11-year-old had to finish up a science experiment at home. She said she had data she needed to work analyze. She jumped on the computer put in her data from heart rate experiments into an Excel file and within minutes had a full-color bar graph.

She printed it out in color and moved on with her day. I’m not sure where she learned that Excel and Google Docs would let her instantly make data charts, tables, graphs and flow charts, but I sure am amazed she knows.

Last year Walsh’s class participated in a school-wide special project. The kids were supposed to create some type of project but it could be in any field. Walsh chose to combine science and computer technology. So while other kids brought in dioramas and poster boards, Walsh used to animate a cartoon about the environment. I don’t know how he learned that either.

Walsh has a current assignment to compare character traits from two characters in a Newberry Award-winning book. The assignment says to cut out words from magazines or write in different colors to create your word cloud. However, there are bunches of sites that would let you do that online and print it.

Is the lesson lost if you did the project with technology? You still have to think of the character traits and type them in. Now maybe some of the creativity is lost because the computer is choosing the pattern and not the child. Hmmmm.

Do your kids turn to technology to complete school projects? Does your child choose to use technology, does the teacher or do you? Is there more or less value to the projects when using technology instead of old-school presentation styles? Does it make it more valuable to adapt to using technology in every day life?

19 comments Add your comment


November 7th, 2012
5:43 am

Students in my son’s (4th grade) class are not allowed to use technology. Nothing can be printed on, copied from, or drawn by computer. The reasoning is that not all students have access to a computer at home and it would give some an “unfair” advantage. (All the parents have e-mail addresses, so there is computer access for all the adults, and teacher messages go out as e-mails to save paper, so it seems unreasonable to me.)

FCM on my cell

November 7th, 2012
6:26 am

Yes, of course.

Bigger worry, where will they turn to learn or use anything as our country loses freedom. today is sadder than the day after elections 2008.

Ray of hope: charter school amendment passed. perhaps more will open and allow us choices in education.

TWG good book for Walsh: Ferenheit 451

FCM on my cell

November 7th, 2012
6:28 am

Oh yeah, good one for Rose: Animal Farm.

The Dixie Diarist

November 7th, 2012
8:40 am

Technology keeps the peace. I guess.

I guess you could say a DVD player hooked up to a TV screen in the corner of the classroom is technology. It didn’t make any of us smarter, but it made me feel like a teaching revolutionary. One day I figured if they came into the classroom with a movie already playing that they would scoot to their desks and start the class period off without bickering at each other, dropping their books on the floor because they love the loud noise that makes, or trying to sneak candy out of The Globe of Happiness. My idea sort of worked. They typically did only one of those.

Anyway, I played Civil War documentaries, Nacho Libre, The Outlaw Josey Wales, School of Rock, Dorf on Golf, and The Right Stuff, among a number of other mesmerizing, teacherly selections. They loved it. Every single student loved the idea. Of course, the time came when we had to turn the movie off and get to work and chicken chucking. But the dramatic exhibition of hard work and good behavior was always rewarded by giving them the last few minutes of class off so they could repeat Nacho’s infamous fart scene or watch Josey gut Captain Terrill, who sure did deserve it, with a sharp saber.


November 7th, 2012
9:53 am

I’m happy to see school’s embrace technology. It is a part of our world, kids need to learn to use it. Yes, kids should still learn to write, color, cut etc. but that doesn’t mean they can’t also use technology.

TWG – do you think the schools in AZ use technology more than in GA? I’ve always felt like the schools out west are more progressive with technology.


November 7th, 2012
10:11 am

My nephew had to do presentations in PowerPoint in the 5th grade. I was amazed. He had to do it in class so his parents couldn’t help…not that my brother could because he is computer illiterate. I told him he needs to get with it or his kids will be doing stuff he can’t monitor! His 6th grade class has been issued iPads for use. This is a personal preference but I like the use of technology but partly it’s because I wasn’t good at diaramas and posters. No artistic talent whatsoever! My mama’s genes did NOT get passed on in that respect. She’s great. I do a lot better when I can see it on my computer. I do think the younger grades need to do things by hand so they can learn how to but as they get older they should learn to use the technology.


November 7th, 2012
10:27 am

The technology is there — why not use it? Telling kids that they can’t use a computer because not EVERYONE has one is like telling kids not to eat breakfast before they come to school because not everyone eats breakfast before school. Stupid beyond belief — how are kids supposed to learn how to use technology under those circumstances? It’s sorta like in the 70’s, when we had to use crayons instead of magic markers, because “not everyone had magic markers”. The creativity comes in when a child uses their brain in different ways in order to convey a concept. Why does drawing it on paper make it “more” creative?

Voice of Reason

November 7th, 2012
10:56 am

Photoshop makes EVERYTHING better…..

Warrior Woman

November 7th, 2012
12:23 pm

Not only do my kids use technology, they are required by their schools to do so.


November 7th, 2012
1:23 pm

Don’t blame me, I voted for Cthulhu.

I figured, why choose the lesser of two evils?


November 7th, 2012
2:11 pm

MamaS – maybe the parents have email through work but not a personal account that can be accessed at home.

I agree that it is wrong to keep students from using ALL the tools and resources available to them (not including their parents/siblings doing their assignments). The teacher should be able to judge the work presented without giving higher marks for either hand made vs. computer generated (either or) work based on bias. However, I do not think “I don’t have a computer” is a good excuse when the assignment is supposed to be typewritten and turned in and the student tries to hand write something and turn it in. A kid might not be able to access a computer for a long period of time or have access to a lot of different programs at public spaces like the library but some resources are available.


November 7th, 2012
2:56 pm

At my daughter’s school they just expect everyone to use technology. She has projects due quite often, and she regularly uses computer programs to create very professional looking projects. I am always impressed with the results. I am glad that she knows how to use all of those things…
Today I am so proud to be an American! May peace and joy be with the rest of you! :)

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

November 7th, 2012
2:58 pm

Techmom — it has been very interesting comparing the Ga. schools with the AZ school. I have not been thrilled by my elementary schools and I think my Georgia school (Camp Creek in Lilburn) was much better. AZ has school choice and charter schools — The school choice means that they don’t have to offer every program at every school and you can choose to drive your child to the school where they do have the program. So Walsh last year had to go to a different school than Rose to get gifted services. For Rose to have a gifted middle school, we would have had to drive her 20 mins each way (so 80 mins commute each day) instead of it being offered up the street at the home middle school. Now so far, I have been thrilled with Rose’s new middle school. I think even though we didn’t go with the gifted middle school, she is really, really challenged. I am very happy with the professionalism and quality of her teachers there. I am not sure on the technology — I think they both are in advanced classes so are expected to think outside the box and use more technology. I believe that though Camp Creek has ipads in the classrooom and these schools do not. I’m not sure.


November 7th, 2012
5:19 pm

@ DB…we are more alike than different. I say Magic Markers and my daughter rolls her eyes to tell me there is nothing magic about them…haha!


November 7th, 2012
5:29 pm

I think some things should be done by hand just so the student can understand the concept. For example, learning how to make an x-y graph. It’s easy to type the numbers in, do a couple of clicks, and pow! there is a graph, but I think a student should know how a graph is generated. That is just one example I thought of.

I, too, say magic markers or, worse, marks-a-lot. LOL


November 7th, 2012
6:18 pm

I agree with DB. If the resources are there, use them. Even if it’s not “old-school” with crayons, markers, paints, poster board, etc. I remember how excited I was when we got our first “real” computer back in 1992/1993. It was a Tandy Sensation, ran Windows 3.1, and I believe was a 286. I was so excited, no more having to write out reports by hand, no more having to wait until a computer was open in the school’s computer lab. I could type up reports at home. Little did I know that later on, the schools would forbid students from doing it at home, citing “we don’t trust you enough to do it on your own at home”. A couple of times teachers made exceptions, mainly if I had been out sick, or when I went to Washington, D.C. for a week-long field trip. By then we had ditched the Tandy and had a custom-built 486 or bigger.

The only argument I would have against using technology is that doing it the “old-fashioned” way would teach children to be more creative, engage the creativity part of their brains, not to mention teach them a skill they might have to use later on. Besides, technology isn’t reliable until it’s unbreakable and uncrashable. When the next ultra-mega-monster virus wipes out every single computer in the world, who’s going to be able to finish their reports? Those who can still write by hand, use markers or crayons to draw pictures, and cut and paste using scissors and glue, that’s who.

I remember when I was in 3rd Grade, my mom having conniptions over the fact we were using calculators in Math class. She marched right into the school, and insisted they not use calculators. They never gave me one after that; I did other assignments, and now I can (for the most part) do math in my head, whereas others would have to pull out the calculator. I didn’t have a calculator until I got into 7th Grade, when we started learning Algebra.


November 7th, 2012
6:42 pm

I think a balance of technology and old-school is needed. Rose’s graph is a great way to use technology. Did she have to build her data worksheet herself? If so, then I think she probably has a pretty good grasp of the concepts behind creating the graph. Excel saves time on drawing, but you have to understand what you want to present, what data will be on the x and y, etc to make a meaningful chart. In Walsh’s case, I think the lesson is lost by using a word cloud generator. It sounds like an assignment meant to build art and presentation skills. A word cloud generator does ALL the art work. If identifying character traits were the only point, then it would have been a simple written assignment. I do think, though, that using a publishing or drawing program to create a word cloud, with Walsh choosing size and color and arranging the words, could be as creative as a handmade project.


November 7th, 2012
8:59 pm

As a high school teacher, I like to give students choices for projects. I want to see products that demonstrate learning and understanding, whether the student used Powerpoint/Prezi/movie software, wrote a song, built a model or diorama, produced a children’s book, etc. I am looking for creativity as part of the rubric. They must include citation of sources they used, including visuals. I personally hate boring rolled up poster board!


November 7th, 2012
9:36 pm

I think there should be a balance. We’ve all see evidence of how technology has taken over and how many students suffer because they can’t or won’t retain information because there is always something to do it for them. I do believe that all resources should be utilized, but only AFTER it is proven that the student truly knows the information.

As far as creativity is concerned, just because something is created on the latest and greatest software doesn’t mean it is creative. It means a person knows how to input data. The truth is that computer generated projects can be just as boring as hand made projects. After a time they lose their newness. For instance… how many of you moan and slump in your seat at work when you KNOW you are about to see ANOTHER Powerpoint presentation. No matter how well done it is, it is still just ANOTHER Powerpoint presentation.