Over the last few years, I have continually been on the lookout for challenges that would be suitable for some of our "underworked" students. Well, the two students who I have worked with so far in Thinkquest are anything but "underworked". Last year I coached Beth Abraham who worked on the site "Death an Inquiry into Man's Mortal Weakness". While that was a unique insight into the human psyche, LOL to Good Health has been the chance to do It from a different angle. My family certainly appreciated the change in direction!
Currently I teach Psychology, Information Technology, Geography ,History and English at Ballarat Secondary College. Teachers in Victoria (a state of Australia) need to be flexible. Two years ago, like many teachers, I started to realise that directions in education were changing. I completed a graduate diploma in Information Technology at the University of Ballarat. Not bad I thought for someone whose prior experience was in turning a computer on and off with only basic skills in Word.
Since then, I have discovered a whole new world for students in research and publishing through the Internet. Currently there are ten students who spend two lunchtimes a week working on class web pages for our school Intranet. They don't even consider it as work - it's more fun.
I have also worked with students in developing pages both in and out of class. Those of you heading over for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney might like to check out one page our students have produced called Australia, the land and it's people. Another site that was worked on extensively by Eli's brother Rhys is about the Begonia Festival, which is one of the biggest celebrations in Ballarat.
My other passion as well as my family (who often don't get the time and attention they deserve when I'm hogging the computer), is my garden.
A month ago, a teenager died in a country area of Victoria after a home made bomb exploded. This experiment followed exploration on the Internet. As the father said, ingenuity, and inquiring mind and risk taking are all elements that have contributed to the advances the human species is making today. He suggested that what we need to do is to redirect their energies into less dangerous pursuits. The involvement of Jason, Eli and Lori in this site is an example of how we can encourage young people to do what they enjoy in a productive and exciting way. Rather than seeing the Internet as something we should protect children from, it is a powerful tool that we can harness in order to direct and enhance the natural enthusiasm that many young people have for exploration, communication and creativity. Well done team.