Many of you will know I am somewhat anti-technology in the classroom. At least for students younger than Grade 3 or so. I didn’t do more than play Solitaire and Minesweeper on my computer until late high school. From there, I entered the world of Microsoft Works and Word to type up the occasional ‘essay’ for school and write notes to friends in pretty fonts. I first ventured onto the internet with Crystal in chat rooms talking to someone named “ipfreely.” My mom and dad will probably be horrified knowing I was in chat rooms – I feel a little nervous about the memory myself! Stephanie and I then used the power of the internet to look up funny sound clips. We didn’t even play games on the internet. Back then, the internet seemed kinda boring. By Grade 12, chat rooms had progressed to the lovely sounds of ICQ “uh-oh”ing at me and checking my brand new Hotmail account. Oh, the power of the internet! Now, what was I getting at with this embarrassing history… OH…I didn’t get into the world of computers until pretty late in the game and I’m doing fine aren’t I? So, why do Kindergarten kids need teachers to get them into the computer lab? Don’t they get enough at home? It’s clear to me that at-home versus at-school novelties are changing. When I was a kid, it was like CHRISTMAS when we got to watch a MOVIE at school – now, kids have seen everything at the theatre and watch loads of movies and TV at home. It’s not ‘special’ to them anymore. Getting them outside and teaching them new tag games, skipping tricks, and how to throw, catch, and kick a ball seem to be what they are lacking now. I’ve lost my train of thought again. What a rant this is turning into!
FOCUS, KIMBERLY, FOCUS! This post was inspired by Leanne, Petra, and iPads. I am now officially sucked into the educational possibility of them. iPads (yikes, starting a sentence with a lower case letter) are a big part of the school where I’ve been placed here in Australia. So, after a few months of hiding it my desk drawer to spite technology, Apple products, and my own lack of knowledge about them, I was finally forced to confront the iPad.
Leanne, my teaching partner, has been showing me up left, right, and centre when it comes to technology and sharing it. Her class blog blows my mind and if every parent in that classroom isn’t checking it weekly (at a bare minimum), then it’s a huge shame. Leanne sends the classroom home and invites parents to be part of every special event that happens in the classroom, big or small. It could be a montage of photos from a huge day-long event like Sports Day or the students showing off a cool, easy, and fun app or program to record a Father’s Day song for their dads. She knows a bazillion educational and non-educational apps for the iPad/iPod. She rocks YouTube by finding JUST the right video clip to spice up a boring old grammar lesson about verbs and has magical ActivInspire pages that the kids are entranced by. I’m constantly peeking into her room to see what websites she has up on her Interactive Whiteboard and what new technology she’s testing out with her kids. She doesn’t stop and have an ICT lesson; she is the ultimate model of ICT embedded into daily classroom life.
So, when she suggested we sign up for the iPad workshop with Tony Richards I figured it was time. I had to up my game by at least getting in it. What a fun day!! Again, for people who know me, you’ll be impressed and astounded by the fact that I actually DID the tasks we were assigned to do throughout the day rather than just watching others and waiting until I got home in my pjs to try it out. I made a “book” that afternoon, and two nights later at a dinner/workshop, I made my first LEGO Movie.
Leanne told me about StoryKit and after showing the students, had them harrassing me for the next two weeks to “read to the iPod” anytime they have a spare moment. Kids begging to go read aloud without an adult forcing them and watching over their shoulders? Even then ones that don’t like to read? WICKED. AND it’s recorded with a photo of the writing on the page so I can go back and listen to/watch it later? What could be better?
Yesterday, Petra asked me if I could help her sort out a problem with Puppet Pals. I`d never tried the app, but rather than say so, I rushed after school to play with it before she came over to the classroom. We sorted out the issue and called Leanne in to play with us. We threw this ridiculous creation together. If we can do that, imagine what kids will do with it? Petra’s having her student retell fairy tale stories in German using their own sets and characters – how perfect!
I’ve continued to explore and discover other great apps that promote learning. Many of them aren’t special at ALL, but the novelty of holding an electronic device with rockets suddenly makes practising basic addition facts thrilling – who am I to argue? I’ve even written down on the “2013 to-do list” to buy myself an iPad for the classroom and USE it. Plus accessories.
Thank you, Leanne, for teaching me, sharing with me, and inspiring me to use technology in authentic and valuable ways in the classroom not just as a babysitter or time killer.