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Technology Integration for the Students: The First Month

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Technology integration continues at the K-8 Charter School.  To refresh your memory, I took a position as a part-time technology instructor at this school starting in September.  The previous technology instructors were volunteer parents whose primary focus was on keyboarding skills and using the Microsoft suite.  Part of my self-imposed role is assisting teachers in integrating technology into their learning activities and supporting classroom learning during the students’ technology time.  A subgoal is to demonstrate how technology integration can be achieved with computers and internet connection and no other costs.

Here is the summary, an overview of technology integration for the different age groups that occurred during September.

Junior High – 7th and 8th Graders

PBWorks for African Learning Expedition

The learning expedition for the Junior High this year is studying Africa, past to present. Students have been assigned a specific African country to research, to become an “expert” about that country.  A PBWorks was set up for students to post their research.  At this point, the students are posting general facts they are finding about their countries.  These facts will be used to create Glogs, Animoto videos, and Dipity Timelines.

Glogs About Their Countries

This past week during their technology class, the students were introduced to Glogster.  They spent most of their time learning how it works.  A few began creating their Glogs about their African countries.

Part of their instruction included how to use Google Image advanced search to find images for their Glogs using strict filtering and usage rights “labeled as reuse with modification”.

Shelfari for Book Discussions

The Junior High language arts teachers asked all of the students to set up Shelfari accounts.  This was initiated by one of the teachers after she saw me demonstrate it during my interview last Spring.  What follows is part of the permission letter she sent home to parents for permission or students to sign up for Shelfari:

As students discover wonderful books, they will share their reviews and recommendations with each other.  Over the summer a few Anser students piloted an online site for discussing books.  Students found to be a fun and interactive way to share their excitement about books.  On Shelfari, students can create a virtual bookshelf, rate the books they have read, write and read book reviews, discuss books with readers from around the planet, create a reading wish list, and much, much more.  Our class will also have a private group where we can safely discuss books we are reading together.  Only group members can see our discussions and reply to our questions.

Participating students will have a profile (bookshelf and friend list) on the site.  In order to create a Shelfari account, students need parental permission.  Shelfari registration requires an email account; however, for the safety of the student, I recommend that you use a parent email to register.

A Group Shelf of books was established for the class.

They are asked to participate in monthly discussions on Shelfari where they post their own questions and respond to questions posted by other students:

Middle and Upper Childhood – 3rd, 4th, 5th, & 6th Graders

Where I’m From PicLits

One of the beginning of the year projects for the 5th and 6th graders was composing lengthy poems. Where I’m From.  The teachers asked how technology could assist with the expression of these poems in an artistic and visual format.  PicLits was the tool I believed could best support this project.

The students’ PicLits were all posted on a single page:

Word Clouds for the River Expedition

I showed the teachers Wordle at the beginning of the year and it immediately sparked the interest of the teachers for the students in these grades.  They have requested the creation of word clouds during technology time to support classroom activities.  I started with Wordle but wanted a tool that can easily  saved as images to the desktop.  Wordle does not have this characteristic.  After exploring other options, I decided to use ABCya Word Cloud. The Upper Childhood students practiced using it by inserting autobiographical words.  The Middle Childhood students created word clouds based on their river expedition.  They included words that they associate with rivers.  They will create another similar one after they finish their river study.  The two word clouds will serve as a pre-post assessment of terminology gained from their river learning expedition.

Thinkquest for Networking and Posting Work

I learn about many of the technology tools I use through Twitter and blogs.  Thinkquest was demonstrated to me a few years ago at ISTE’s National Education Computing Conference.  I love this site and so do my students.  I used it when I was a gifted teacher a few years ago.  The students at my “new” school are having the same excited reaction.

I don’t understand why I never hear it mentioned in any of my social networks.  It is a safe place where students can create an online identify, communicate with other students from their own school and from schools from around the world, post questions and polls, and participate in online projects (way too many benefits to describe in this blog entry).

Internet Safety with Professor Garfiled

Along with the production tools the students are learning, they have been studying Internet Safety with Professor Garfield. We watch the video together and then the students work through the Try and Apply components at their own computers.

Kindergarten and Early Childhood – 1st & 2nd Graders

Given the variance in the literacy levels of this age group, especially the 1st and 2nd grade group, the challenge has become how to differentiate to meet the needs of all children in the class.  I believe that technology provides a great venue for differentiation and it has proved to be the case for this age group.

ABCya Educational Games

ABCya provides educational games for grades Kindergarten through Fifth with an assortment of games for each grade.  From their website:

ABCya! is the leader in free educational kids computer games and activities for elementary students to learn educational computer games and activities were created or approved by certified teachers. ABCya! educational games are free and are modeled from primary grade lessons and enhanced to provide an interactive way for children to learn. ABCya! games and activities incorporate content areas such as math and reading while introducing basic computer skills. Many of the kindergarten and first grade games are equipped with sound to enhance understanding. on the web.

This site provides options for self-differentiation as students pick their games based on their grade level and interests.

Literacy Development

For the first half of the Early Childhood classes, I focus on literacy development.  Kidblogs were established for those students who have basic writing skills. The kids, at first, weren’t that thrilled about writing the blogs.  But once they realized they could comment on each other’s blogs, their excitement rose dramatically.  One student asked if it was like Facebook for kids.  Even at age 7, they understand and are attracted to social networking.

While the students are writing their blogs, the other students, emerging readers and writers, listen to and interact with online books such as Pinky Dinky Do.

Online Drawing Tools

The kids love to draw and paint with online tools.  Along with the ABCya games, students have been given the opportunity to draw during the second half of their technology classes.  Tux Paint was downloaded on all of the computers in the technology lab. (Note: even the Junior High students like it!).

Up Next – Technology Integration by the Teachers: The First Month

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

October 4, 2010 at 3:14 am

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