Sunday, November 11, 2012
Blog Assignment #11
Little Kids, Big Potential
Ms. Kathy Cassidy is a first grade teacher who is an advocate of using technology in her classroom. She produced a video of her first grade class. They are a class of students in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada. In this video, "Little Kids... Big Potential," her first graders teaches us the different types of tools they used to improve their learning and hope that it can help us too. The students used blogs, webpages, wikis, videos, Skype, and a Nintendo DS to learn! Can you believe that a Nintendo DS is allowed in their classroom?! I sure didn't!
In the video, the students tell us that they love to write on their blogs. Each student had access to their own laptops to work on their blog. They said that blogging helped them improve their grammar. They received more feedback too. They received feedback from family, friends, and even other people around the world! To be safe, they suggested that you should only put your first name. By not providing the last name, people are less likely to find you. This is a very important tip, especially for young bloggers! A student also said that you should not say mean things because it might hurt someone's feelings.
They used the internet to access webpages that will take them from one site to another. They can find websites that teaches them how to read, how to write, videos that is related, or choose whichever pages they need to help themselves learn. They are saying that having access to the internet allows self-learning even in the 1st grade! I cannot believe that six and seven year old children are already self-learning! It's amazing what technology can do for young students! The students also used and created wikis of their own! The wikis helped them learn about traditions, rituals, and alphabets. With the help of others, the students created their own wiki to help! People from around the world can put what they know into the wiki! It's collaboration! In this part of the video, they mentioned Alabama students who added videos onto their wiki that may help students learn about the alphabet! The student said it was cool because it's like a song!
In the classroom, students made videos. Before making videos, they needed to work in groups, plan the video, and decide on how to show the work. A group project is a great way to promote team work, collaboration, communication, and socializing. A group project can allow the students to help one another. They also used Skype to talk to other people from different places. They get to talk to other classes, teachers, and even their friends! It is a great and fun way to communicate, especially never having to leave the classroom to do it! At the end of the video, they said they were allowed to use their Nintendo DS in their classroom. This was a bit shocking! Apparently the Nintendo DS promoted social support, teamwork, problem solving, and sharing. This was clearly a surprise and I am glad it worked out for them! It is great that teachers uses the toys that children would have and make it into a learning experience. I wonder when they'll start implementing gaming consoles into the classrooms!
In the Skype interview with Dr. Strange and students, Ms. Cassidy talks about the benefits of technology. She was given a few computers with limited access. She said that since it is there, she might as well make use out of it. She made the computer area a "center" because there wasn't enough for each student. Student blogs serves as an online portfolio for parents to see. It reflects on what they learn on each subject but it particularly shows their writing progress. In order to protect her students, she told them to use their first name only and not to put pictures of themselves. To counter the problem of children going to bad websites, Ms. Cassidy uses her main class blog as a hub. It's the place where the students are directed on where to go and what to click. She also teaches them what to click on the actual webpage. She tells them not to click anything on the sides or bottom of the page where there may be flashing links or pictures!
She also brings up the idea that technology is not going away. It will never go away. Because of that, we should take advantage and learn it now than later. You may not have time later. The world has changed and we need to change with it. She said that if we don't use technology or take advantage of it, it's like disabling our children in the 21st century. This means teachers should be computer literate. Being computer literate doesn't mean knowing how to use word processor or do spreadsheets anymore. She claims that to be "20 years ago". Instead, we need to constantly keep up with what is happening in technology and be eager to learn about it. In order to do that, she suggested developing a PLN, which we are doing in EDM310. It is good to find a way for us to keep in touch with what is going on in technology. There are tools in which we can use to do that. Twitter is one of them. She made a comment about how people may not want to know what kind of breakfast another person is having but Twitter is more than just status updates. It's a place where one person connects with others. It's a place where resources are shared, place to meet other educators, and etc. It's a place where you can build a network.
She uses blogs in her classroom because it ends up being an exciting thing for the students. The audience they get on their blog is what sparked the excitement. With online blogging, the students are not writing just for the teacher. They know that once they post something, the whole world will see it. They can receive comments from other students, family, friends, and people from all over the world! That is what's exciting! It makes them feel special as well.
I think I would use blogging as a way for my students to learn how to write better and use that as an entry for them into the technology world. Like Ms. Cassidy says, the idea of having a larger audience for the children can be really exciting for them. Their blogs will serve as an online portfolio as well. That means you can see the progress they are making with their writing, parents can see what they are doing in class, and for the students to reflect. There may be problems, especially with younger students, in terms of blogging. In her classroom, she taught the students to not use their last names or post pictures of themselves. This will protect their identity on the internet. That is what I would want to do in my future classroom. In a way, I would love to implement anything related to technology in the classroom. In a few years, the tools available to us will change too. I do not wish to disable my students in the world of technology!