With our fancy Web 2.0 world we sometimes forget to teach the basics.
I have been teaching Word Processing to my third years. Today I asked them to type a letter. I showed them how to lay out the page and what information to include and when to put 'sincerely' instead of 'faithfully'.
Their task was to write a letter to someone of their own choosing - a family member or friend far away, a politician about something they feel strongly about, or someone famous if they could find a postal address online (via an agent or organisation if necessary).
Once the letters were written we printed them, signed them, folded them, put them in envelopes, addressed the envelope and put a stamp on it. This was all a bit of a novelty to them. They were unfamiliar with the conventions of where to write the address and put the stamp on the envelope. One pupil wrote the school address in tiny writing on the front of the envelope instead the address of Arsenal F.C.
They then didn't know how to fold the paper to then fit it in the envelope. One pupil held up the A4 paper and the envelope, waving it at me with a look of confusion on his face. I'm not even sure he knew it NEEDED folded.
They have all now written letters to famous people and are very excited at the possibility of getting a response (no matter how unlikely I said it might be). All of the pupils have chosen to post their letter themselves (I checked they knew how to post a letter!). One girl didn't seal the letter so she could show her mum :-)
Also today I was doing an SQA programming task with my fourth years about paying staff who make food mixers. First I need to give a different example about making microwaves instead as most of the pupils won't have seen a food mixer before or even know what one is. We can sometimes make a lot of cultural assumptions in teaching and it's sometimes strange what you end up teaching young people.