Friday, February 14, 2014

Tech Tech Tech

I grew up in the digital age. My dad had one of the first consumer Apples before I was born, and I would say I embraced technology throughout my life. I took two technology based classes during my Grad program on how to incorporate tech into the classroom. Even though I would say I am very tech savvy, I know that I am nothing compared to the generation growing up today. Our school got a recent donation of a class set of MacBook Airs and a computer cart, and a new iPad, Macbook Air, and Wall Projector for each teacher- amazing, right?!?!?!? We have been attending numerous tech Professional Development sessions where we discuss best ways to integrate tech, best programs to look at, and just general philosophy around technology in the classroom.

Let me sidetrack for a minute and talk about how incredible it is to have a dedicated two hour staff meeting every week to meet in small groups, have discussions, collaborate in vertical teams (across grade level), and brainstorm ideas. In teaching, sometimes it feels like each teacher is on an island isolated from her peers. Even better than just attending the sessions for me is the way that this group of teachers has encouraged me to speak up and contribute to all discussions, whether it be on Common Core integration across subjects, or the pros and cons of new Math programs.

Ok, back to the tech! I feel I have done a good job in my student teaching so far in incorporating tech into the lesson at least once a day, and not just me using tech and the students watching either. I have done a few social studies lessons where we explore Google Maps and the students search for different elements. I have played time lapse videos for our life cycle unit to show growth over time. There is an incredible (and FREE) site where you can use virtual manipulatives, which we have been using both in class and having the students use at home. This has been such an incredible tool, and students are grasping the very tricky concept of regrouping with Subtraction faster than before (according to the lovely Ms. G).

One of the best parts of the new tech donation to the school is that it also came with a technology teacher from a company called Planet Bravo. Each class gets 45 minutes a week with a certified teacher who teaches students everything from "this is how you use a laptop mouse to click" to "this is how you create an animated movie." We had our first session this week, and I am just BLOWN away: by how great the teacher is, how engaged the students are, and how well students already know technology. The theme for second grade is create, and all the lessons will be focused on students creating different kinds of things from stories to presentations.

This week the teacher covered basic handling and how to respect the materials, as well as getting them started on a website called Kerpoof. This is a great tool I have had the opportunity to play around with in a few classes and use with my girls when I was a nanny, but it was really nice to see how to apply it to a whole group lesson.

The students chose backgrounds, added characters and text to create a little story. I may have mentioned before that my class can be a little wild, and usually get so excited by fun things that they have a hard time following all the rules. Not this day! You have never seen a class of more respectful and engaged students!

I grew up in the digital age- playing Oregon Train, drawing shapes and filling them in with the Paint Bucket Tool in Paint, stamping all kinds of crazy things with Kid Pix, playing Mario Kart on N64, and all those other hallmarks of being a child in the 90's- and I am pretty comfortable with whatever technology you throw in front of me. But this new generation? They will create a digital world that we can't even dream of yet, and I can't wait to give them tools to create it with!

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