I have been absent from Heart and Art for too long! I have not forgotten about our followers or my fellow Heart and Art bloggers, but I have been distracted with a new challenge. Last spring, I successfully wrote a proposal requesting laptops for our third grade program. In mid October the laptops arrived, and since then I have spent every spare moment working to integrate this new learning tool into the heart and art of my teaching and student learning. I trust that my absence from Heart and Art has not been in vain. It is my intention to share my new learning and growing pains with Heart and Art followers. I hope that Heart and Art followers will benefit from my recent “distractions.” Each month I will share how the third graders at my school are taking ownership of their learning and growing more independent as they use technology as a tool for learning.
The proposal I drafted commits my students to collaboratively generate inquiry questions that connect to the science and social studies curriculum. My students have begun to use laptops to mind map their ideas and questions using off-line software. We have just started to use MS Office software (Word or Excel) to keep track of their jot notes and sources and the plan is that they will share their research through meaningful projects such as scripted video documentaries (Windows Movie Maker), scripted video/podcast how-to guides (Audacity), digital scrapbooks, pamphlets, or public service announcements. I have recently connected with a grade 12 Media Studies teacher who teaches at our feeder high school. We are discussing the possibilities for doing a project together. I really hope this pans out! You can trust I will share our learning on Heart and Art!
We are at the early stages, but my students are starting to share their inquiry questions, research and new learning using Web 2.0 tools. For example, I have created a teacher account on Edmodo.com. It is FREE! All my students have created student accounts and they now use Edmodo to share ideas and new learning with each other in school as well as from home in this secure educational social media site. I started by simply posting questions students to consider and discuss on-line. To date, I created three groups for my students to join: Science, Social Studies and Room 204- Announcements. I will share how I use the Announcements group in another Heart and Art blog post. I am interested to learn how other primary teachers are using Edmodo in their classrooms. I am following a number of teacher groups on Edmodo, but most of the contributors are junior, intermediate and secondary teachers. I do believe that Edmodo has its place in the primary classroom as well. I will post the different ways I am using Edmodo in future blog posts. My next Edmodo project is to take my literature circle groups on-line.
Obviously, there is a skill set that my students need to possess in order to conduct research and use spread sheets and flow charts to record their learning. It has been a slow process. Although most of my students have computers at home (19 of my 22 students have access computers and Internet at home), their keyboarding skills, ability to save their work and access files is limited. There are times when I think to myself, “This is consuming so much time!” But I am committed to using 21st century tools in my classroom and to creating an environment where students learn with and from each other within the walls of our classroom and beyond the walls of our classroom. When I get frustrated, I just tell myself to “Trust the process!” I hope to join an international project as well this year…all in time…one day at a time…stay tuned!