Thursday Three Tuscaloosa City Schools Elementary Technology news, Volume 3

Oh computers... A tool that can make your heart flutter with the squeals of students collaborating, creatively thinking, communicating, and being creative on one of their favorite tools OR it can be a time that makes your blood pressure rise so high you are the one who needs to visit the nurse. Haha! Never fear, tech coaches to the rescue!

When thinking about using devices to enhance our learning, a quote from a motivational speaker named Zig Zaggler comes to mind. He said "There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs." The students we service might be called digital natives, but they are not born already knowing how to use these technology tools. We need to explicitly teach them how to use our tech tools by building the stairs (the basics) to support them towards that end product at the top.

Basics Bootcamp

Computers are EVERYWHERE. Computers are in the cars we drive, televisions we watch, phones we use, and even in some of our refrigerators. Let us start off by stating that you MUST be patient with yourself AND your students. Growth takes time and progress (big or small) is progress. Begin by taking students on a tour of the device they will be using: keyboard, mouse (right click and left click), monitor, power button, headphone jacks, etc. Doing so will help students be able to independently problem shoot issues that are easily solved in the future. To accompany this lesson, Khan Academy has a great video featuring inventor and designer, May-Li Khoe and virtual reality designer, Nat Brown introducing the four features that all computers share. This will give students a window of understanding into how their devices work.

We will share more about digital citizenship in a later issue. Digital citizenship is a term used to describe how we can teach our students how to use the internet regularly and effectively. The internet is a huge place with lots of capabilities, so students need to know how to safely and effectively use all of its features.

Brainstorm with your class about the different avenues the internet can used. PBS Kids created a video with their character Ruff Ruffman that sings a little jingle about all the different ways we use the internet.

Computer Lab/ Chromebook Cart Tips

1. If you can, give explicit instructions BEFORE students come to the lab or start working on computers in stations. Once the students are in the computer lab or working on a computer, they are eager to get to work, so they are not listening as well. Model what you would like them to do on the projector in your classroom. If you are in the lab, model for them in the computer lab gathered on the floor around the computer lab projector or gathered around a single computer. Keep it short, explicit, and to the point.

2. Like any of the routines and procedures you teach at the beginning of the school year, teach students to sit in their same seat each time, check to see if the computer is on, and begin working as soon at they enter the room. It will help students log in faster each time, and help those who are eager to start to begin their assignment.

3. Make sure important websites and passwords are displayed. We want to train students to be independent problem solvers, so this step is critical. Students have a hard time visualizing things like logins, passwords, websites, etc., so we have to provide them with visual representations.

4. When working in the lab, allow students to help one another. The best gift you can give yourself is allowing students to help you help others. Think about the first thing you do when you don't know how to do something. You either phone a friend, Google, or YouTube the answer. Students are eager to help one another with all the ins and out of technology. This will give you the opportunity to assist those who need the most assistance. This also builds family and community within your classroom.

5. Always have something for students to do when they finish early. Give them a choice list of websites they frequent or give them the opportunity to design their own project to display the learning that has been taking place in the classroom.

6. Have an alternate activity planned in case something goes wrong with your lesson. What if the internet is down or too slow? What if a site is blocked? What if your subscription to a site is no longer valid? For example: One day in 2nd grade Amanda had to teach for a full day with NO power, which really threw a wrench in her plan for tech integration. Alicia had planned a lesson that implemented an interactive activity, but her projector was NOT working. One year, Alicia was in classroom that didn't have a projector OR Elmo. Long story short: have a back up plan for your back up plan. If you stay ready, you won't have to GET ready. LOL!

7. Give meaningful, engaging assignments, preferably ones that allow students to work at their own pace. Alicia and Amanda can definitely help you with planning these for your class. Just send us an email!

Managing Student Logins and Passwords

One of the most important steps in successful technology integration is helping students visualize their credentials (username and password). A simple index card that displays credentials written with a marker will work. Go even further by laminating them and putting them on a key ring for easy access.

Christine Pinto is an amazing Kindergarten teacher out of California. With lots of practice and patience, her Kinders get on the computer within the first few days of school and take off. The secret to her success all starts with a plastic name tag holder and some colored tape on the keyboard of their devices.

On her blog, she details how she color codes her keyboards with colored tape. When making her login cards, she coordinates the colors to match. The color coordination helps even the youngest of students log in quickly and effectively with practice.

Bonus Tip: A Pep Talk

How Can We Help You?

Contact us at any time to schedule planning for these activities or more:

  • Connect on Twitter: Create your PLN!
  • Mystery Skype
  • Mystery Number Skype
  • Global Connections
  • Technology Integration in classroom instruction (whole group and small group)
  • Typing Club
  • Clever
  • Dot Day Activities
  • Global Read Aloud activities and connections
  • Google Apps for Education: Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Sites
  • Seesaw Digital Portfolios
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Blogging
  • coding
Alicia Sewell and Amanda Walker

Alicia Sewell: RQES, VES, OES, MLK, TMES, and TASPA

Amanda Walker: UPES, CES, SKY, SVES, WFES, and AES


Created with images by Kari Shea - "Neat desktop with a laptop"

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