Tag Archives: computer lab

Oops! …a Teachable Moment…

I, in my haste, planned a quick lesson on explorers for one of my classes. A link had been sent to me by a colleague to a site that was designed to teach about reliable resources. I quickly looked for the assignment on the site, read it, and determined that the assignment was appropriate for the group I was teaching. I scanned the links in the site without really reading through them. The result was that I had to think on my feet.
As the children began reading, the teachers and I started to notice some strange and false facts about the explorers. Then it dawned on us that the site purposely had false information on it to teach kids about finding reliable resources. Close to the end of the period, I asked the students if they read anything that didn’t sound quite right. Only a few had noticed. I had a conversation with them about content on the Internet and how anyone can write anything, even if it’s not true.
They were shocked. I explained that even I was tricked. They loved hearing that! In a way, the lesson worked out fine. Ideally, I would preface lessons like this with an introduction to what I want them to think about as they’re reading. Next time, this group will be comparing the text on the site with more reliable resources and finding the mistakes in the writing. After that, they will be writing blog posts about it. Can’t wait!

Differentiating with Technology

When I was growing up, my computer classes were focused on typing and how to use specific programs. As the Technology Coordinator this year, it’s my job to facilitate lessons using technology. My focus is not on the smaller skills like how to save a Word Document, but on the bigger picture: to use computers to extend learning. The skills are absolutely needed, but children learn those skills through use, not through direct instruction (just like language). Every time I’ve gone to PD on a computer program, I find that I already knew 90% of what was presented because I’ve played around with computers. The creative aspect of technology is the part that’s harder to learn and harder to teach.

So far, I’ve worked with two classes in the lab. Our focus has been research on a topic they’re learning in class. One group is a fifth grade group and the other is a second grade group. It is so easy to differentiate the instruction with they way I have it set up. Some children are writing based on their research, and some are having their learning recorded on video. They’re each having a chance to express what they’ve learned in a way that is just right for them.

Before getting to this point, I needed to work on infrastructure– some of which is constantly evolving. The students have a student login with a student email account that I facilitate. I write the students an email as my prep for the lesson. Each child opens the email with their name in the subject, and they have a detailed list of instructions for their assignment. I can find appropriate resources based on their reading levels. My time with the group is maximized because I don’t need to give group directions– children are motivated to understand how to use computers.

Next week, I’ll have headphones for each computer, and I’m going to install a text-to-speech program for the children who will need sources read to them. This will make finding resources so much easier, as I will need to find resources for the child’s listening comprehension level instead of their decoding and comprehension levels. Many more resources will be accessible to them.

It’s amazing to have children creating instead of just filling in blanks on worksheets. They are excited and more invested in their work. I have more to think about for K-1, but maybe we will be able to do something similar with videos instead of writing. I want to move beyond the mindset of repetition and rote learning.