These are the kids who created these projects – the ones up top are this years bunch and the ones on the bottom are now second graders. I’m lucky to have a small class size – usually about 20 kids. I teach in a Title I school (languages, socio-economic status, recent immigrants, etc.).
We use a lot of tools in our classroom – including paper, pens, colored pencils, scissors, chairs, magnifying glasses, binoculars, blocks, glue, and the things you see here. For each task we have to choose the best tool for the job and that is true for technology as well.
Like any other tools, one critical piece is that I get the tools into the hands of the learners. They aren’t nearly as useful if I’m the only one controlling them. One of the first tools I hand over to the kids are cameras. The pictures and video they take we will use to create other projects you will see today. I do keep one digital camera and one flip camera in my pocket throughout the day to capture pictures anytime I want. I have several digital cameras for the kids to use (donated from friends, donated through Donor’s Choose, or bought on the cheap whenever I can) and flip videos all on lanyards. I work closely with small groups the first time they use them but after that they don’t need much support from me. They turn to each other to figure things out.
We use computers in a computer lab and in our classroom (sometimes in the library as well). We have a few old desktops in our classroom and we also use a set of netbooks we can check out.
Working with computers is not second nature to all of my students so one of the first places we start is Pixie. (Well, we start by logging on but the reward for doing so successfully is Pixie!) Our first big use of Pixie is to create avatars for our online activities. I try to set a reasonable, but high bar when it come to technology use (and everything else, for that matter) so I accept that I may feel like I’m banging my head against a wall for a bit in order to have them be independent with certain things.
We also use Pixie (along with MovieMaker or PhotoStory) to create movies. This is one we just made a couple of weeks ago.
Using our cameras we create movies to document our learning – here are movies about our school rules, things we are thankful for, shapes and counting, and a story we wrote together. Some are made in MovieMaker and others in PhotoStory. Sometimes we do similar work in VoiceThread, but we start with these tools before getting to that one.
Here are three of the many VoiceThreads we have created. We use this tool in a wide variety of ways. On the bottom is a VoiceThread we made to document a process – we made butter and wrote the instructions for doing so. To the right is a VoiceThread that allowed us to show what we know about shapes – it was done independently. As was the one on the top. There we used VoiceThread to help ourselves think about our writing – each child read a piece they had written and then listened to it. They could also listen to their friends.
Animationish serves as a fun way to practice high frequency words (writing these words multiple times helps students remember them but that’s pretty boring) and showing motion in content.
TECHNOLOGY FOR TOTS (OR AT LEAST FOR EARLY GRADES) Jennifer Orr Annandale Terrace Elementary [email_address]