Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Google, Craigslist, and how I know they're learning
Day 8 - Go to the library
Today was the first day of the advent that we were not able to do what we'd planned. We were going to go to the library, but Mike discovered a very flat tire on his Land Cruiser when he went out for work this morning. He took the Sequoia, and we were left carless. So instead of the library, we played at home and made cookies for the cookie swap we're going to on Thursday.
Spencer came up to me today and asked me if I thought Craigslist was started by someone named Craig. I told him I didn't know, but that it probably was, and we'd have to look it up to know for sure. He disappeared then, and came back just a few minutes later to give me a brief history of the site (It was indeed started by a Craig, Craig Newmark in 1995. He originally started it to post notices about events and happenings in his local city of San Francisco, and it grew to include sales, jobs, and apartments. He devoted himself fulltime to the site in 1999). The boys like to joke that they are not homeschooled, but Googleschooled, and for as much as they Google for information it is not far from the truth!
I love little moments like that, both because it's just fun to learn interesting facts alongside the kids, and because it's a tangible and visible answer to the question "How do you know they're learning if you don't test them/grade them/quiz them?"
How do I know they're learning?
That one little five minute exchange showed - among other things - that Spencer has learned:
1. How to recognize a problem, and quickly find a way to solve it.
2. How to use the computer, to get where he needs to go, deduce the best keywords to use, and type and spell well enough to search for what he's looking for.
3. How to sort through a large amount of information (a search for the history of Craigslist returns about 15 million results) and find what's most relevant
4. How to quickly read, scan, and summarize text
5. How to relay that information succinctly to someone else
That is real learning! And the cool thing is that a year from now while I most likely will have forgotten the details, he will know them - names, dates and locations.
I see them learning. I see them learning all the time.
And finally, a few days ago we completed a project that has been in limbo for months now and today I was able to grab a picture. We were going to move the big boys out to the toy room, and have Tegan and Everett share their current room. But midway through the move (we had dressers hanging out in our computer room in the middle of the house for months) I realized that while they were anxious to have their own space, they really weren't quite ready to sleep there. Plus Everett still wanted roommates, and Tegan was still quite happily sharing our bed. So we cleaned up the toyroom, moved out some toys, moved in their dressers, but kept all the beds as-is. We picked up another TV ($25 from Craigslist. Thank you Craig Newmark.) and hooked up the PS2. We set up the futon that's been sitting in there mostly unused and usually buried under "stuff." They now have their own hangout room slash den slash video game room, and they are very excited to decorate it and make it their own. And, we now have the PS2, PS3, and Wii all hooked up to different TVs, and could theoretically have all three systems in use at once. Awesome.