Tech … Give Them Time to Play!

How do you manage the use of technology peripherals with students? What are some things you’ve learned and hope to implement.

Looking at technology, and students of ANY age, I think the first thing you need to keep in mind is to LET THEM PLAY. Give them time, before you do anything, to experiment with whatever software or applications you are thinking to use. Otherwise, you have an uphill battle trying to get them focused, and once they are with you, keep them involved. If I know I am introducing a new application to them, I like to show them where it is, have them open it up, and give them a chunk of time (as much as you can allow) to explore. Once they are done, have a few of them share some of the things they have discovered. Some of them can even act as assistants to make your job easier.

Linking to the previous idea, I also like to have the students arranged into islands, where I know that within each group (or island), there is at least one individual who can help others, and has some knowledge of the software we are using.

Sometimes, each island is using different software. Starting next week, I am experimenting with my Grade 3 class by having them choose which application to use to publish their personal narrative projects. Today, we discussed 3 applications – Notebook, Word and PowerPoint. We looked at the advantages and disadvantages of each application, and how they all kind of suited different purposes. For example, Word is simple, easy to use, and you end up with a title, text, and once you print, a spot for a picture. Of course, you can do more with Word, but that is as far as we took it today. Notebook has the advantage of allowing you to create artwork by hand on the computer and record your voice even! PowerPoint? Super easy to insert images and move text/images around.

All 3 will work well, and our discussion today really got them thinking … and excited. I could hear them going out for Recess today saying “I am going to use … . I can’t wait!” So, my plan is to have 3 islands working next week – students feeding off of each other and taking on more responsibility with the learning. I love peer learning … It will be interesting to see how this goes.

Finally – balance. There is a lot of tech out there, but it is just too easy to get caught up in it. For a few weeks this year, I was making a Smartboard file for every single one of my Math lessons … until I realized I was boring my kids with technology. My lessons were becoming too long. I was caught up in my Smartboard creations, spending a lot of time talking and presenting, and not enough time looking at the students and encouraging discussion. 10 minute mini-lessons turned into 15 or 20 minute presentations. I now use the Smartboard when I want students to come up and show/explain their thinking, or to post important notes, but I don’t allow it to run my lessons anymore.

I think my final point is the same message I started the COETAIL course with – balance. Interesting, when you think about how much I have learned about technology, and how much I am integrating it into my classroom now. The successes, and the failures. Same message. I need that balance. Don’t force it. Let it happen in a meaningful way, and it will work.


~ by yamaguru on December 11, 2009.

One Response to “Tech … Give Them Time to Play!”

  1. Love the “let them play” attitude. The time spent here will allow for more time for content learning later. Many don’t see this and think that time is lost and wasted.

    Glad the course has been useful and transformative.

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