When I think about the educational media and/or software that I use in my classroom, it is hard to key in on just one. Back in 2003 when I first started teaching, my school had a computer lab that I hardly ever used. Back then, I supported my teaching with an educational video or “The Magic School Bus” videos the odd time.
I took my first Educational Technology (EC&I 831); course with Alec in the Fall of 2014. At the same time, I began teaching in a Grade 4/5 team teaching classroom. For my project, I started a classroom blog page with the hopes of sharing our special events, photographs, and student work. Feel free to check it out here; joneshuber.wordpress.com. So far this year, I’ve shared our first trip to the Tipi Raising Competition at the University of Regina.
I have continued using Kidblog, Razkids and Tumblebooks to support Literacy groups everyday. My students really enjoy blogging and reading/listening to stories online. I never have complaints about blogging, Razkids or Tumblebooks. They don’t even seem to mind the continuous technical difficulties we seem to have everyday. The students seem to handle them far better than I ever do:(
The main challenges with Kidblog for the students is figuring out how it works. Just like any new technology, it takes time to figure out how to use the tools that are included.
The main struggles we are having so far this year is logging in with the student’s new email and passwords for Chromebooks. Since Chromebooks are new at our school as of the 2015/16 school year, most of the grade 4 students have not had the chance to experience them. This is a process! Fortunately, most students have figured it out without too many problems, but many of the wrinkles are still being ironed out.
With such a large group of students, I have always leaned towards whole group lessons on the data projector or individual computers for students in smaller groups of 8-12 students. When there are so many students who do not have much experience with technology tools or software, I often find we are starting from scratch. This takes some time, a lot of patience, and persistence as the students and I learn these new technological tools.
This year has been no different. The grade 4’s are learning how to maneuver through Kidblogs, Google Classroom and Mathletics. Having a 6 to 1 student teacher ratio works much better than a whole group. Fortunately, the grade 5 students have spent a whole year using Kidblog, RazKids, Tumblebooks, etc., and can be a teacher for their classmates as well.
There are definitely times when I wish I could jump into Google Classroom with more easability. At the grade 4/5 age level, access to technology, socio-economic status, enthusiasm, etc. sets the tone for the pace at which my students experience new technology tools and apps. For example, I have never tried Kahoot because everyone would need a device. I would love to use it in our group activities for sure. It is so engaging and user friendly!
I can relate to Andrew‘s blog about using video’s as a tool for teaching. I also like using them on a regular basis. When teaching a variety of subject areas, I find that it provides my students with another perspective, way of explaining a new concept, point of view, etc., as well as amazing visuals. I often find that I am too wordy and sometimes go off on a bit of a tangent because either myself or other students make connections. The next thing I know, we’ve changed the topic and time is running out:(
My students have really enjoyed watching Flocabulary Educational Hip Hop Videos to reinforce a learning concept. We have watched videos on main idea and writing with the 5 senses. Today, we watched the video on Similes and Metaphors. I reference the videos often, when working with individual students and/or with the whole group to provide a visual and/or audio connection to help them understand the concept.
Lastly, I was fortunate to find a teacher (through a Facebook group called, Saskatchewan Grade 4/5 Teachers) who has shared her Math lessons for every lesson of every unit of the curriculum. Each lesson is a screencast or whiteboard video teaching each new math concept in 20 minutes or less. The lessons are interactive, she includes the handout that the students can follow along with and they complete a couple of practice questions. I have used it as a Flipped Classroom way of teaching. The videos are posted on our ClassDojo so that students can access the lessons from home. I encourage them to watch them from home before and after the lessons if more practice is needed. I like that the videos save time in the classroom for learning through math games, Mathletics, Math with Someone, and/or Math on My Own. Also, Mrs. Bashforth’s lessons are concise and disruption free!