The most exciting thing is happening in first grade. I have students who are asking to take on the daily role of tech support for their table group. Kids who are actually getting upset if they cannot be tech support. Students who otherwise have not put themselves in a leadership position.
Let me back up for a moment to explain. This class has recently started “glogging” using eduglogster. It has been about five days since we began so the children are becoming quite adept at making their way through the school server and folders to get to the eduglogster shortcut. It amazes me on a regular basis how well these first grade students can follow the several-step directions, many without even needing to look at the board. It should be no surprise to me since last year’s first graders did the same thing, but it still makes my eyes water when the teacher and I talk about how great they are doing.
So we have been creating glogs over the last week and having the time devoted to this is definitely making it easier for both the teachers and the students. I find, not surprisingly, that the frequency of use correlates with the subsequent ease of use.
The other day the idea of tech support came up when one student was helping another edit some text on their glog. I mentioned that perhaps that student would like to be their tech support table captain and help out their classmates as needed. One after the other, children from other tables were volunteering for this position until we had a set of support for both that day and the next. These students went to each child at their table to be sure that they were saving and logging out properly and did this with such an air of authority and responsibility; they were Tech Support after all.
Each time I go into the class, the students are already signed up to be the tech support for the day and they take this title very seriously, checking in with their classmates to see if they need help.
This is not the first time that students have helped each other. Usually when I work with a student on something, it becomes their responsibility to teach the next person. If a students figures something out, they share that with their neighbors. The only difference between these two situations is that I gave what they were doing a title and they owned it.
Why do I share this with you? If first grade students can do this, certainly older students can do this as well. We should be utilizing these students to empower them and to acknowledge their changing role in the classroom– as contributing members in an ever-changing classroom context.
It’s May so it makes sense to look back on the school year to reflect and assess how things have gone with the change in my job from specialist to integrator. We have had the Mac laptops for a year (we got 1 cart last April, 5 more last summer), the teachers have all had theirs for a year, the students have had access for almost the whole school year at this point so it’s a good time to see what we have done. And of course, it’s also a good time to see what there is still left to do, hence-half empty.
- Teachers are comfortable with their Macbooks
- Teachers and students are using the laptops everyday for something, whether it is a visit to First in Math, Spelling City or an application like Pixie, the teachers and the students are using technology in some way.
- Some first grade students are blogging
- Many fourth grade students are blogging
- Fifth grade students are blogging (this is not new but still . . )
- We have made connections to other classes through blogs, skyping and Mystery Skype
- A third grade class skyped with a Veteran for Veteran’s Day and also shared their biography museum with a class in California
- A first grade class has tweeted about and shared pictures of their Painted Lady butterflies and has received comments from other first grade classes in other schools
- Second grade students have shared their love of and improvement in reading through podcasting
- Many students are creating and sharing their work with others
- Teachers are beginning to think about ways to integrate the technology in purposeful, natural ways
With that being said, there is still more work that needs to be done:
- I would like all students and teachers to be blogging about their work, their reflections and their wonderings
- Meetings for brainstorming and sharing need to be a priority and I need to make it happen more often
- Though I met with many teachers and went in to many classrooms regularly, there were some that I did not go in very often, or much at all and that is something I would like to change, even if it is just to check in to see what is happening
- I would like to see more classes collaborating with others via skype and making connections with other classes
- I would like all students to be creating and sharing their work with others, creating a lasting legacy of their learning
Yes, much has been accomplished this year, but there is still so much to do.
So what do you think- half full or half empty?
photo credit: jenny downing via photo pin
Image by David Castillo Dominici
The first graders finished their nursery rhyme podcasts and had a chance to listen back to each other’s recordings. After each one the class had a chance to give helpful comments and compliments to the podcaster. We talked about what kind of comment would be useful and how to give a specific compliment. We brainstormed and came up with commenting on voice clarity, loudness, smoothness and expressiveness. Some of the compliments that the students gave each other were, “I like how your voice sounded loud,” “I like how you spoke clearly,” or “The Pre-K students will be able to understand you because you said each word by itself.” Good commenting is something that takes practice and modeling; we will continue to make this part of the process.
Another area we are exploring with the first graders is reflecting on their work; thinking about the process, what they did, how they did it, what they did well and what could be improved. Reflecting on their work will be something we will be asking the students to do and is something they will grow into. We started by asking the students to reflect on their nursery rhyme podcasts. Here is some of what we got:
- “It felt good because I want the pre-k-ers to read by the time they are in first grade.”
- “I listened to all the ones I read and then I found one that was perfect. It made me feel good.”
- “I liked working with a partner, but next time I would like to try it myself.”
- “Every time I did it loud enough, I forgot to introduce myself; every time I introduced myself, I was too quiet. So I kept trying until I got it right.”
I believe you will agree that the first graders are off to a good start!
The first grade teachers in my school have been very enthusiastic about the move toward integrating technology more seamlessly throughout their curriculum. In fact, we have met almost weekly to talk about ways we can do this. One of the goals in first grade is for the students to become more fluent readers and we decided to use Garageband to help us with this objective.
The idea was to have the students start with something familiar like a nursery rhyme and then practice reading it while recording a podcast. The students would listen to their recording, decide what they could do to improve it and re-record as they consider necessary until they had it just right. To make this more purposeful for the students, the recordings would be for our Pre-K students’ listening center. A colorful book of these rhymes would accompany a CD of the students’ recordings. As you can imagine, the first grade students were very excited by this idea and eagerly set to the task of selecting a nursery rhyme that they would perfect through reading and re-reading.
When the time came to introduce Garageband, I showed the students the tool buttons they would need to use, how to delete a recording, how to insert a new recording and how to move the cursor back and forth along the track. I then recorded a couple of rhymes for them to critique so they could decide what a good recording sounds like. They all thought my first reading was great until they heard my second one which they said was slower and more smooth. My third was the best because it sounded the happiest (it had the most expression).
Then it was their turn to give it a try. All I can say is “Wow!” They loved this and were so good about listening back to their podcasts and deciding it needed to be slower, or they needed to speak more clearly or with more expression, or they needed to move to a quieter place. Many must have reread and re-recorded their rhymes at least ten times before deciding that they had it just right. It was so exciting to see the students find quiet places around the school and make these recordings. When they selected the one that was their best, we sent it to i-tunes and then moved it to a shared folder on our network so they could listen to each other’s.
The students really enjoyed this and are already talking about how they want to read and record a whole story next time. To me, that is the one of the best outcomes of the project!