Modems, Megabytes & Me!
Telecommunicating Across the
Gary Garfield and Suzanne McDonough.
Winnipeg: Peguis Publishers, 1995. 144pp, paper, $16.00.
Computers-Study and teaching (Elementary)-Activity programs.
Computers and children.
Professional: K - 8.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.
How far have we traveled since the days of the little red
schoolhouse? Although rapid population growth spurred the
expansion of schools from one route multi-graded classrooms
to today's mega school districts, we wonder: How much has
really changed? . . . With a computer, telephone and modem
you can give the child access to the world. Anywhere a
telephone and computer exist together is a potential source
for information and learning . . . an idea and practice that
will forever change the way you think about, and teach
children to think about, learning. This reality will also
require all teachers to think differently about how they
teach and how children learn. This knowledge by itself has
the potential to change the basic premise and foundation of
We are know teachers who are crazy about computers and use
them as much as possible in their classroom routine. We also
know teachers who don't want to have anything to do with
technology and ignore its potential for themselves as
teachers and for their students. But teachers need not be
afraid of learning, nor should they be afraid that, at least
initially, students may know more than the teachers about
telecommunicating. This book gives reluctant teachers gentle
guidelines for jumping into the fray.
Teachers who are terrified of technology can read Modems,
Megabytes and Me! and realize that technology need be
neither terrifying nor separate from daily classroom
activities. It is a step-by-step and reader-friendly book
that outlines why teachers should get connected, how to
connect (including the basic definitions), and provides more
than seventy pages of theme-related activities that fit in
with the classroom curriculum from kindergarten to grade
Chapter two explains what a teacher needs to set up a basic
computer centre in a classroom. It suggests sources of
financial support from the school and the community -- an
important element in education today. It also mentions some
different software packages available to go on line, and
where to find them. The instructions for setting up software
are very specific, and should give teachers new to
telecommunicating some confidence. The conclusion of the
book offers some case studies of students who benefitted from using
The themes suggested are aimed at specific grade levels.
They are set up as lesson plans, with objectives, related
topics, preparation, and procedure and activities. The
activities range from researching cookie recipes, collecting
jokes, chatting on-line with CEOs of corporations,
collecting scientific information from NASA and graphing it,
getting answers directly from scientists, to doing
genealogical researchn and so on.
There is nothing special in the activities outlined in the
book. But each theme has a suggested telecommunications
activity that combined with conventional teaching practices
to the greater store of knowledge and resources for
students. The authors assert that using telecommunications
is an essential part of educating a child in today's world,
and that teachers are obligated to become familiar with
telecommunicating practices and make them a part of their
teaching routine. Children must learn to use the resources
offered through computers and modems and whatever else is
the next development of telecommunications in order to be
able to function capably and confidently.
Modems, Megabytes and Me! is a book that has up-to-date
information about computers and telecommunications. Some of
it may become dated as new advances in technology are
introduced. But the ideas for themes and activities will be
useful by themselves and as springboards for a teacher's own
ideas for a long time.
Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg.
To comment on this title or this review, send mail to email@example.com.
Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association.
Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice
is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
The Manitoba Library Association
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