Phase I: Choosing our Topic<br /><ul><li>Students in Kindergarten study a unit in reading surrounding the investigation of non-fiction texts. As science is often left out of the curriculum in half day kindergarten, I chose to incorporate it by having students study an animal of their choosing.
Students were able to choose various animals they liked, and then vote to see which they liked the best. The winning animal was the whale, the topic of our study. This incorporated various aspects of the math curriculum, as students had to count, understand tally marks, and compare amounts. </li></li></ul><li>Phase I: Integrating Technology<br /><ul><li>To further embed this unit into various facets of the curriculum, I integrated technology through the use of wikis, websites, and online videos. As whales are rather abstract to many kindergarten students in my class (immigrant population, many low of low socio-economic standings) the use of videos to enhance their knowledge of whales was instrumental in my unit, especially when supplemented with various non-fiction texts. </li></li></ul><li>Phase II<br /><ul><li>In utilizing technology in this unit, particularly through the use of our wiki and videos, I found my students to be significantly more engaged in the lessons. When non-fiction texts were used, unsupported, I found my students were not able to grasp the information as readily, or understand the concepts discussed.
For example, before seeing a video on whales at kids.nationalgeographic.org, many students had an extremely difficult time visualizing a whale’s blow-hole in action. However, after seeing it first hand, they seemed to demonstrate a much deeper understanding of how whales breath.</li></li></ul><li>Phase II<br /><ul><li>In addition to my observations and anecdotal notes based on their conversations with myself as well as other students, the children completed a writing sample in which they stated one thing they learned about whales. They also demonstrated their understandings through the use of illustrations.
Through the use of technology as a supplement to various non-fiction texts, my students proved to be extremely excited and engaged in the work we completed together, and this I believe was demonstrated most through their enthusiasm to work, and knowledge they gained in their written assignment.
As many students in my class are English language learners, the use of videos and interactive sites such as our wiki helped visualize the information for my students much more readily than text alone. Without the experience of learning which technology provided, I do not think the written samples would have been as coherent, nor would their understandings. </li></li></ul><li>Phase III<br /><ul><li>I chose a project approach type of learning for this unit, which is constructivist in nature and which allows the students to choose the topic of study. This I found to engage the students and lends itself quite well to the use of technology. While my students are still only in kindergarten and required a very modeled and assisted use of the wiki, I believe it served to engage them quite significantly, as they were able to make their own thoughts part of our learning process. </li></li></ul><li>Phase III<br /><ul><li>On our wiki, I constructed a KWL chart, in which students can add (in school or at home) things they already know about whales, questions they have about whales and what they would like to know, and finally what we all learned about whales. By having students go in and edit our class page, I found many seemed completely integrated in the learning process, and found value in their work, as they took ownership of each progression we made together. </li></li></ul><li>Phase IV<br />As many of my students to not have computers have home, I wanted to provide them with a stimulating technological experience in the classroom. With four computers in our classroom, I had our wiki page as well as the national geographic videos we referred to up constantly, making them accessible for students on a daily basis.<br />
Phase IV<br /><ul><li>Additionally, we viewed much of the work together on the smart board, allowing for students to experience and interact with the technology by clicking upon the screen themselves, and controlling what videos we would watch on a given day.
I required the use of computers, a smart board, as well as an internet connection to complete this unit and to successfully integrate technology into an ELA and science unit of study.</li></li></ul><li>Phase V<br /><ul><li>I believe the technology integration was extremely successful in our unit of study. As I wanted the ideas of study to stem from my students (within parameters which I previously set, ie: I wanted to include science and math successfully into our non-fiction unit).
As many of my students have limited experiences with whales, it was important for them to see whales in their natural habitat and really see first hand their environment, what they ate, and how they survive in the wild. Without technology, this would not have been possible. Texts can only allow one to experience so much, but without the prior knowledge base, a text on it’s own is not nearly as valuable as when integrated with enhancing and enriching technology. </li></li></ul><li>Phase V <br />The use of the class wiki also served to engage my students, as their individual thoughts an questions were all valued and they were able to see what each other were thinking and how our knowledge and questions were ever evolving and changing throughout the course of our unit of study.<br />
Phase V<br /><ul><li>In the future, I would love to further incorporate technology by having students take a field trip to an aquarium and photograph their experiences. They could then upload the photos, and create a class presentation on power point or make their own class website which will serve as our conclusion to the project approach based unit. This would allow students to teach their parents, other classes, or friends information they learned in a technology based venue, enhancing their knowledge of content areas, as well as technology. </li></li></ul><li>Websites Used<br />http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/Animals/CreatureFeature/Orca<br />http://thinkingwhilereading.wikispaces.com/KK%27s+Whale+Study%21<br />http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/whales/<br />http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/tag/whales/<br />http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/whales/activities/whaletemplates/Templatelist.shtml<br />