Sometimes the answer is exactly wrong in every possible way

In the midst of my math lesson yesterday, I leaned over and switched on the document camera. This is a device that has replaced the overhead projectors of my childhood. Place a document or object of any kind under the camera, and the image will appear on the Smartboard.

A very useful tool in the education field.

I looked to the screen. Instead of the document, a large, black box was displayed on the screen.

I turned to my class and said, “When a device like my document camera - or any electronic device - doesn’t work properly, what’s the first thing I should do?”

I ask this question because I want to teach my students that the first and most likely solution to a problem like this is to restart the device.

Turn it off, then turn it back on.

I want them to know this because I can’t tell you how many times an adult asks me to solve a problem related to technology only to watch me close and re-open their app, restart their computer, or turn their toaster off and on. It’s the simplest solution to so many problems, and yet so many people miss this obvious step.

I want my students to be better prepared than most.

Having posed the question, I looked to my class, waiting for an answer. None came. The students stared back at me, blankly and confused, so I asked again. “When something like my document camera isn’t working, what’s the very first thing I should do?”

I waited again. At last a hand rose slowly into the air.

“Yes?” I said, pointing at my student. “What should you do in a situation like this?”

“Panic?” my student said.

I have a lot of work ahead of me.