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Amazing, isn't it? Twenty years ago this month I had my first direct experience with a computer. It was a Mac plus - and Oregon Trail. I was eleven, and I was hooked. Unfortunately we couldn't afford a Mac, so that Christmas I got a Tandy Color Computer III. No disc drive - data was stored on an audio tape. At least I learned some BASIC. :) I still have that Tandy in my closet. Someday I'll donate it to a museum.

It is unprecedented how quickly computers have become part of our culture. Although I can't live without my iMac, I'm still grateful to be in the last generation of Americans who remember what life was like when computers were rare and no one could even imagine a cell phone or an iPod. It's a fascinating time to be living in, especially for us Generation X-ers.



That's one of my very favorite books of all time.

I don't want to tell you what I remember about computers from back in the day.

I do own the original Pong. And we used to buy cassette tapes for our computer.

Back to the book. . . . I LOVE that book!

Instructify Bill

Back in grade school, I remember we had a week-long computer fund drive, complete with a bake sale and a roller-skate-a-thon (coolest fundraiser ever, by the way). During the skating session, the DJ turned the volume down on Fleetwood Mac's "Tell Me Lies" to inform us we'd raised enough money to buy an Apple IIe.

I remember feeling very proud we could raise the money, because at the time, computers were vague magical machines--ungodly expensive, but the coolest contraptions on the planet. And when I first played Oregon Trail in the school library, it was better than I could've imagined. That probably says a lot about my concept of money and my imagination at the time.

By the by, the Decemberists also make good vocabulary fodder in a pinch. They're chock full of neat words like "balustrade" and "courtesan."

I find it strange to think that I did most of my living overseas and traveling in the years before email was in general use. I wrote letters. I called home once every fortnight. It's not that long ago (1990s)! I used to read the phrase 'rapidly-changing world' and feel a little irritated that it was being proffered as a kind of catchphrase that meant little but could effectively heighten drama or create a sense of urgency in a writer's argument. But when I stop to think about it, it is amazing to think of the way things have changed in the last few years.

Btw, just found your blog via eduwonk.com and like what I read! (I think you are indeed a hip teacher. Nice work!) I blog about music education and literacy links, (as well as general issues related to music practice). Am still looking for other music ed blogs out there... I would be delighted to get any URLs that you know of. Thanks.


The above comment, accredited to Instructify Bill, is in fact from me. Must have done something wrong when I posted it. Still getting used to this blogging malarkey...


Remember Logo Turtle?? They would be so bored with something that used to rock my world...


That is a very clever way to see if your students notice their environment. Being that the children said computer it shows where their heads are at. If I were you I would have given them credit for that because that is just the kind of things that they will notice. I LIKE THAT!

Paul W Buchanan

What I have trouble remembering is how we all survived before the web. It's the first place we all go for everything, yet it's younger than my students.


I just read the entirity of your blog from beginning to end, excluding the surveys. ;)

I am an aspiring teacher myself--after leaving high school at 16 to be "homeschooled" (aka Do What I Want) and jumping straight into the workforce, this comes as a surprise to many. Three years later, I'm planning on going back to the place that made my life a living hell. Part of me thinks I really just want to get paid to learn.

Anyway, I've really enjoyed your blog. Thanks to you, I feel like I have a better understanding as to what it actually MEANS to be a teacher, other than the idealistic stuff we all feed ourselves (and get fed by others).

I hope you continue writing so that I may continue reading, and maybe in a few years you'll run into my chronicles of my first year of teaching. :)

Dawn Thompson

Hi there...
I stumbled on your blog as I was looking for material for a eboard I am putting together for one of my graduate classes. I love your blog (especially Hard Days Night) and was wondering if I could use it on my board?
I would need to reference your name as well. If you are able to let me know ASAP I'd appreciate it deeply!
Thank you so much!
Dawn Thompson

You sound like the most awesome teacher ever.


Ha! I like your story up there. A computer in the early 1900's...Maybe they were imagining some alternate history fiction?

I have to say, I'm two years away from finishing my Secondary Education program at Oklahoma State, and I'm one of those kids who grew up with computers. I remember that the Internet as we know it "came out" while I was in grade school, but I really don't remember life without it. I have two computers and don't really think anything of it...times are getting to be mighty interesting, yeah?


I have a question for you. I am a science teacher and new to blogging. I am going to start a blog for my class this fall and I am going to have one of my classes reading a couple of books. Not being an English Teacher, I would like to get some ideas on how you discuss and/or blog a book with your students. If there are others interested in a science teacher blog, check out; http://sciteacher.edublogs.org/

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