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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Meaningful Use of Technology in Kindergarten

Using technology with young students has always been an interest of mine. Particularly because of the challenges it presents and because I hear many people say, “They can’t read, how can they be successful on the computer?”. Often times, the primary grades are allotted less time in the computer lab weekly and don’t have access to computers in their classrooms like the older students do. Usually, the younger students are allowed to use software such as Millie’s Math House and websites such as Brain Pop. There is so much more available (for free) that will allow students to be creative, use problem-solving skills, think on a much higher level; and work toward meeting the updated National Educational Technology Standards for Students! Here is a study that proves that if used correctly, primary students can use technology to enhance their learning, learn collaboratively, and do creative work.

Now….on to my story which reignited the fire I have for meaningful technology integration at a young age….

My 5 (turning 6 in April) year old daughter wanted to make a list of the books she has so that when she goes to the book fair with her Ammy tomorrow, she knows which ones not to buy. She asked me if she could type the list on the computer, my Macbook, and I said, “Yes”!

Of course, I saw this as a learning opportunity. Learning that any kindergartener can handle (with scaffolding of course)…because it was totally necessary for the task. She needed to know how to use the technology to make capital letters, spaces between words, punctuation, save the document, print the document, and of course, make it look “prettier”. These are all the things they’ve been learning in kindergarten.

All too often, students (especially the younger students) aren’t given the opportunity to use technology as a learning tool. They enter the computer lab and have the opportunity to go on different software/websites (Caillou, Millie’s Math House). Of course, they’re using this software to reinforce skills that kindergarteners need to have (the drill and kill way). However, couldn’t they be using the technology they have to enhance their learning and engage them in real world learning opportunities?

Why not use the technology to perform skills they’re going to need in the future? Why not pull out a 100 chart spreadsheet and have the students highlight all the numbers counting by 10’s? Challenge the students who already know how to count by tens (and can recognize/write the numbers) to count/highlight by 5’s! The following are some questions that could also be addressed (higher level thinking/discovery!): What are the patterns you see? Can you find a pattern on your neighbor’s spreadsheet? Use the highlighter tool to count by 2’s. Make a pattern with the highlighter and have your neighbor tell you in “math words” what the number pattern is. Let’s save our spreadsheets and print them out so we can share them with out teacher and parents.

We could also upload the spreadsheet to voicethread and talk about the patterns we found!

What about voicethread? All kindergarteners can talk! They could use voicethread to talk about a story they’re writing and then have buddies respond to their story within their voicethread. Now, there’s real world collaboration, which encourages students to write! Here is a sample Voicethread published by my kindergartener.

Now, I’m not saying that we should be teaching our students how to save, print, highlight text, make a capital letter, and use a spreadsheet “just because”. What I am saying is that we should be teaching the students how to write a sentence properly, use appropriate pictures to illustrate our text, how to count to 100, look for patterns in a 100’s chart, talk about words, create a story, write a sentence related to the topic of a book, etc. These are all skills the students are learning from their teacher. Let’s reinforce those content area skills once a week in the computer lab by using technology!

So, back to the booklist…she is really into the “Rainbow Magic” book series by Daisy Meadows. We have just about every “color fairy” and “weather fairy” book. Thanks to Ammy and the bookfair, we’re now reading the “flower fairy” books. So, we opened a Word document. She began typing the names of each of the fairies (from the titles). Then, she wanted to make each name the color that it was on the cover of the book. I showed her how to use bullets to make it an organized list. Integrated technology: open a Word doc; Shift for capital letters; change font, size, and color; bullets; save; print; space between words; delete; highlight.

It just made sense…

To me

And to her…
My question is, how do we get it to make sense to the technology leaders?
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Meaningful Use of Technology in Kindergarten

Using technology with young students has always been an interest of mine. Particularly because of the challenges it presents and because I hear many people say, “They can’t read, how can they be successful on the computer?”. Often times, the primary grades are allotted less time in the computer lab weekly and don’t have access to computers in their classrooms like the older students do. Usually, the younger students are allowed to use software such as Millie’s Math House and websites such as Brain Pop. There is so much more available (for free) that will allow students to be creative, use problem-solving skills, think on a much higher level; and work toward meeting the updated National Educational Technology Standards for Students! Here is a study that proves that if used correctly, primary students can use technology to enhance their learning, learn collaboratively, and do creative work.

Now….on to my story which reignited the fire I have for meaningful technology integration at a young age….

My 5 (turning 6 in April) year old daughter wanted to make a list of the books she has so that when she goes to the book fair with her Ammy tomorrow, she knows which ones not to buy. She asked me if she could type the list on the computer, my Macbook, and I said, “Yes”!

Of course, I saw this as a learning opportunity. Learning that any kindergartener can handle (with scaffolding of course)…because it was totally necessary for the task. She needed to know how to use the technology to make capital letters, spaces between words, punctuation, save the document, print the document, and of course, make it look “prettier”. These are all the things they’ve been learning in kindergarten.

All too often, students (especially the younger students) aren’t given the opportunity to use technology as a learning tool. They enter the computer lab and have the opportunity to go on different software/websites (Caillou, Millie’s Math House). Of course, they’re using this software to reinforce skills that kindergarteners need to have (the drill and kill way). However, couldn’t they be using the technology they have to enhance their learning and engage them in real world learning opportunities?

Why not use the technology to perform skills they’re going to need in the future? Why not pull out a 100 chart spreadsheet and have the students highlight all the numbers counting by 10’s? Challenge the students who already know how to count by tens (and can recognize/write the numbers) to count/highlight by 5’s! The following are some questions that could also be addressed (higher level thinking/discovery!): What are the patterns you see? Can you find a pattern on your neighbor’s spreadsheet? Use the highlighter tool to count by 2’s. Make a pattern with the highlighter and have your neighbor tell you in “math words” what the number pattern is. Let’s save our spreadsheets and print them out so we can share them with out teacher and parents.

We could also upload the spreadsheet to voicethread and talk about the patterns we found!

What about voicethread? All kindergarteners can talk! They could use voicethread to talk about a story they’re writing and then have buddies respond to their story within their voicethread. Now, there’s real world collaboration, which encourages students to write! Here is a sample Voicethread published by my kindergartener.

Now, I’m not saying that we should be teaching our students how to save, print, highlight text, make a capital letter, and use a spreadsheet “just because”. What I am saying is that we should be teaching the students how to write a sentence properly, use appropriate pictures to illustrate our text, how to count to 100, look for patterns in a 100’s chart, talk about words, create a story, write a sentence related to the topic of a book, etc. These are all skills the students are learning from their teacher. Let’s reinforce those content area skills once a week in the computer lab by using technology!

So, back to the booklist…she is really into the “Rainbow Magic” book series by Daisy Meadows. We have just about every “color fairy” and “weather fairy” book. Thanks to Ammy and the bookfair, we’re now reading the “flower fairy” books. So, we opened a Word document. She began typing the names of each of the fairies (from the titles). Then, she wanted to make each name the color that it was on the cover of the book. I showed her how to use bullets to make it an organized list. Integrated technology: open a Word doc; Shift for capital letters; change font, size, and color; bullets; save; print; space between words; delete; highlight.

It just made sense…

To me

And to her…
My question is, how do we get it to make sense to the technology leaders?
Post a Comment