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This is the first year for laptops in our school so we were able to make some monumental changes in our teaching and also changes to the students’ responsibilities. One such change is that each student has their own username and password to log in. No longer do I need to log in to each computer prior to the students using it. Of course, this is easy for the second through fifth graders who are readers an who can easily find the letters on the keyboard, but for the kindergarten (and first grade at the outset) students, this has presented a whole new challenge.
The younger students did not create their passwords, our technology support staff generated these for them. The teachers then wrote these on cards for each students along with their username. The first time the students logged in, we realized that the cards were written in lowercase letters, but the keyboard uses uppercase. This was their first challenge: finding the letters that matched what was on their card. For some, they knew the uppercase letters that corresponded to the lowercase letters; for many however, this was difficult. The next time around, we decided to rewrite the cards with uppercase letters. This small change made a huge difference in the students being able to log in more easily.
Challenge number 2: Using the trackpad. Clicking and dragging, just clicking, scrolling- all skills involved with using the trackpad. For kindergarten students, this is something that takes coordination and decision-making: when to use just one finger to click, two fingers for click and drag, two to scroll or one to click the arrow to scroll. Using the trackpad and practicing these skills have been whole class times unto themselves. One of the ways we practiced this was to put the alphabet in order on the website abcya.com‘s Kindergarten page.
Challenge number 3: opening multiple folders. It used to be that I logged all the students on to computers and opened all folders to get to the website or activity for the day BEFORE the students got to my class. It just made things easier and more efficient. Now, the students log themselves in and are getting to the activities on their own. For the students, it requires listening, following directions and perseverance. For the teacher, it requires a lot of patience and repetition of directions. I also find using the zoom in feature on the Mac makes it easier for the students to see exactly where I want them to go.
I must say, that after four weeks of logging in, practicing using the trackpad, going over the relevant terminology (desktop, trackpad, dock, applications, keyboard, login), the students have shown that they are more than capable of doing these things and more! Students are getting up and walking around helping others, they are beginning to know exactly where the letters are that they need to login, they are getting faster at getting where they need to go so they can spend more time on the activity. It just goes to show, if you give them the opportunity, and expect that they will eventually be able to do something, they will rise to the challenge!