Sunday, December 7, 2014

2 Tools I'm Using to Promote Authentic Use of Technology with my First Graders

A Story:  A Girl and The Devices:

After a whirlwind of graduate work in technology this semester, it’s time.  It’s time to share the tools that have surfaced in my work and research to encourage authentic technology use in my classroom.  For a couple of years now, I've used apps on iPadsI've used websites that were “educational”. Kids were consuming a lot!  Not all bad, but I knew there could be more. 

Enter 2013, and this book comes out. 
 Go ahead and check it out, I’ll wait!  It begins to awaken the idea in me that technology use can be more than a math fact app and once a week in the computer lab.  Many things happened, and I wanted to share them with you all, but I couldn't get it down into words.  And I still felt like I was spinning my wheels. 

As I journey through graduate school, I find myself in a technology course that is required by the college.  I emerge with more of a framework and a foundation of how to integrate technology into the classroom without making it the event.  But I’m not posting all of the work here, because there was so much.  I was still struggling to put it into words to share our story with you.  What changed?  Read this website.  (Go ahead, I’ll wait again.)  It was Katie’s post on 3 ways to use social media that made me realize, I could start by sharing 2 tools that have shaped my classroom.  These ladies are once again showing you what the work can look like in a classroom daily.  And I also didn't post my research project.  (Your welcome!)  J

2 Tools I use in My Classroom to Promote Authentic Technology Use. (AKA: A Classroom where Technology isn't THE event Anymore.) 
1.      Kidblog.
a.    Yes, you might be too.  That’s awesome!  For me, right away I noticed that kids had a purpose for writing.  While we are still a private site, they are learning to connect in ways with each other that they hadn’t before.  Some choose to blog every chance they get during our literacy block.  On a daily basis 5-6 students blog at a time if they wish.  Here’s a screen shot of how a student simply started writing about a leadership trait we had been studying. 

b.    We also use a laptop cart approximately once a week (and as needed), where I can give prompts and ask for comments to check for understanding on different topics, or I can just see what they are thinking about. 

c.    This is a great place to start a conversation proactively about digital citizenship.  My students know and discuss how being nice online is just as important as being kind on the playground.  We used this series of books by Shannon Miller to help us start the digital citizenship conversation.  These books gave me words, when I wasn't sure what to say.  (Side note:  After watching from the sidelines for too long, I’m so thankful for these texts to get us in the game as primary teachers.  We can start having this conversation early and take a more proactive approach.) 

The books we are using to teach digital citizenship.  

  2.    Write About This

a.    This app has brought some capable, yet reluctant writers out of the woodwork.  Students are using the technology to create writing and blog posts. 
b.    Sometimes they write in their notebooks after opening the app and discussing with each other.  Sometimes they type directly into the app and take a screen shot so I can read it later. 
c.    The conversations they are having about helping each other with technology and ideas for writing are amazing.  Here are some shots of what students working on writing might look like now:
This day, one of these students became an expert on the app and coaches and writes with other students as they try using this tool for writing.  

A conversation about digital writing and writer's notebooks.  Then, they wrote. In the background-notice the blogger.  :)  

Of course there is data in my classroom to show improvement in letter formation, correct word sequence, letter-sound correlation, etc.  And all of that is important. 
 But my students are now becoming empowered and inspired to create and experience learning in new ways.  And I'm so honored to be a part of their journey.  

My message to you is if you are spinning, keep trying things!  Start small!  Share your story a little bit at a time.  Together, we can grow our students to create and learn together!   


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