They Need a Lesson on Flashdrives

Just when you think that a class of kids might have more technology savvy skills than the previous year, something happens that makes you realize that you had best lay those assumptions aside and go back to the basics. We’re in the mist of a digital storytelling unit right now and many of my sixth graders have flash drives. They keep pulling them out of their binders and backpacks —  multi-gig memory devices shaped like pigs, guitars, skateboards, footballs, angry birds, and just about every cute design you can think of that cost about 10 bucks — and asking, “Can I use this?” as if they have been waiting all summer for the opportunity.

I assumed that question meant they knew how to use flash drives. Wrong assumption. Most don’t have a clue. They just have the device, which we do recommend for our students but don’t require. I even have to explain how flash drives get plugged into the USB ports because the first question is often, “What do I do with this?” as they hold it up in the air.

“Plug it in the USB.”

“Which one?” is familiar follow-up question, as the student stares at the three ports on the back of the laptops.

That becomes a quick lesson in “it doesn’t matter” because the computer will figure it out.


And then just as I am about to go off to help someone else, I hear, “Now what?”

As I went through this process, with some variations, for the umpteenth time on Friday, I realized that a lesson in how to use a flash drive might be in order because I’d rather be using my time working with students on their digital stories, not walking them through how to plug in a flash drive and save to a file.


I also need to somehow remind them about saving to the flash drive AND the hard drive (although if our school had cloud storage and instant back-up ….). One student already lost her work when her flash drive crashed on her. She had only been doing her work on the flash drive, moving the files from home to school, and when her flash drive crapped out on her, her work was gone. I felt bad, although she seemed pretty resilient about it.

“I’ll redo it this weekend,” she said cheerfully.

Peace (in the basics),


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