Using Technology in Ms. Cassidy's Class
First graders having power? What's going on here? Ms. Cassidy knows the secret to teaching her students. She keeps them engaged with the technology in her classroom. She doesn't require them to unplug to come to class. Her students are excited to write on their blogs for a global audience rather than just writing something just their teacher. Ms. Cassidy benefits from this as well. She now has an outlet to allow her students demonstrate their knowledge of the subject matter. When someone is able to explain something to someone else, it shows knowledge of the subject. Through wikis the students can both learn from other students or they can write pages to educate other students. One wiki project her class created involved her students explaining the alphabet to others with pictures. They worked with another first grade class in Alabama to make a very impressive collection of letters. Another way they use the wikis was to ask people about the holidays they celebrate. It wasn't long before they have a long list of these as well.
The learning goes beyond the computer. The one thing that all this can teach a child is that teamwork is a powerful tool. If students are going to be able to participate in this new global economy, then they must be prepared to work with everyone not just the people next to them. The technology also goes beyond the computer. Ms. Cassidy has a set of Nintendo DSs for her class to use. They can play educational games on the Nintendo DSs, but there's more. Each system comes with a free feature called picochat. Picochat allows the linked systems to become a chat room. This can be used to send messages to each student, or to have the student send messages to the teacher. This could be very useful when asking questions during lectures. The students can just send the answers to the teacher.
Overall Ms. Cassidy has designed a wonderful teaching style. I could see myself taking several pages out her book. I really like the blog post idea. I would use it with the science classes the most. I think a blog about the experiments in the class where the students would post their results along with a short explanation of what happen would be effective. The only problem I see with this is some experiments would be instantaneous. Pictures may or may not be very informative. The way around this is to make a short movie. This will also reinforce the need to use the best tool for the job. I like the wiki idea as well. Math classes would be very interesting if we used the wiki as a virtual textbook. Since math has a lot of rules and strategies, we could use different pages for different topics. We could have one page for the basics, another for fractions and so on.
The problem with my ideas is that I think an older child will benefit more from the lessons. If the subject material is complex enough to be interesting then the child will stay engaged, how if I have them taking pictures of a rock at the bottom of an aquarium and writing about how rocks don't float, then the technology may seem like "busy work" to them. The only way to avoid this is to carefully plan each lesson where the technology will provide not only a more professional option, but also allow the students to be creative as well.