Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Technology Supports Learning

One of my goals as the enrichment teacher is to figure out interesting ways to incorporate technology into my classroom.  There are a variety of reasons that this is important to me, but primarily I believe that technology enhances student understanding and provides a medium that engages and excites students.  My classroom use of technology differs depending on what we are learning, but I typically try to figure out a way for work to include creation of content and development of items that can be celebrated and shared.

I currently have the potential use of five iPads, thus allowing me to have a maximum group size of four for projects.  

In first grade, I am working with classroom teachers to teach a unit on plant science.  I came up with the idea, through various web searches, to have students create claymation videos to express their understanding of the plant life cycle.  I liked the idea of using technology in the long Vermont winter when our visits to the garden would  be nonexistent!  In order to plan for this task I worked with my son to create a claymation video at home this summer.  We decided that it was pretty easy to photograph clay creations over time and had a great time telling a story!  But this technology rehearsal led me to worry that filming in my classroom, with multiple groups working at the same time, would make it challenging to ensure that photograph placement was consistent.  As teaching at my house is truly a family affair, I asked my husband to design an iPad holder that would allow us to fix the iPad in place and had a fixed location for students to place the objects they wanted to film.  The result was the holder shown below, which has been extremely effective!  

I really do love the technology component of these sorts of ideas, but I also love that students:  have to know the plant cycle very clearly (how else could they create a step by step image of a growing plant?), are working in teams (which have to compromise, share jobs, and make group decisions), and use creative materials like clay to express themselves.  

Technology itself is not always enriching, but the experiences and opportunities for learning that it offers when used to create and share are amazing!

(I would like to thank my family for all the support they give me to provide fun and different experiences to RES kids, without them many of my ideas would not become reality!)


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