Middle school has changed so much in the last 25 years! I remember sharing three computers with an entire class. We would gather around and play Oregon trail after we navigated our way through "C" prompt. It really wasn't all that difficult, just new to us.
Today students are able to dissect problems in minutes; those same problems would have taken me years to complete. I feel sometimes that I learn as much from them as they learn from me.
We have started a new section in which we use Autodesk Inventor. I am fortunate to have years of experience in AutoCAD that would help; or so I thought. I have been out of computer aided drafting for 6 years now, I thought I would be able to jump right in, again I was proven wrong.
I feel like the student; asking the teacher or some of the more advanced kids in class how they completed certain steps. Although I am very familiar with AutoDesk products, using a "simpler" version did not seem so simple to me. I am starting to get the hang of it and it is coming back to me awfully quick. I am in sheer amazement at the things students are able to accomplish in general, let alone they are only in 5th and 6th grades.
One of the most helpful items that I saw incorporated was the teacher's use of instructional video. He has taught this section for about two years now; recognizing common sticking points. Instead of having students get "stuck" and waiting for help he just sends them a link to his video tutorial. It does two things: allows him to focus on keeping students on pace, and forces the students to problem solve before asking for help.