Helping Young Students to Master Technology

from Educators' eZine

Using technology to help students become globally competitive is an important skill in elementary schools. Students in the primary grades are the future citizens of the world. In order to function as capable citizens, they need a variety of skills.

Incorporating technology into my lessons has always been one of my most significant strengths as an educator. Yet, this integration must be more than simply adding software or hardware to my teaching routine. It must focus on using technology holistically in and out of the classroom. I have found that using technology succeeds best when it is incorporated creatively into lessons in appealing and motivating ways. Moreover, the technology should allow students to connect globally with other classrooms and students around the world. Over the past two years, I have used a variety of technology applications as well as an interactive whiteboard to create engaging and interactive lessons.

In our first grade classroom, we follow several guidelines when learning with technology. Although technology usage could be seen as an "extra" for my students learning the basics of reading and writing, it is not. I integrate technology into most lessons and allow my students to see me using technology as often as possible. I explain and show them how important it is to be able to handle the great amount of importation that is out there.

Each student in my class is required to complete a daily journal. Traditionally, he or she has a journal at his desk and writes in it every day. Recently, students have started using Microsoft Word to compete their journals one to three times a week (using a rotating schedule and one day of full-time computer lab access). This use of technology shows the student that writing can be completed in "another" way.

Secondly, we attempt to connect with as many groups from other areas of the world as we possibly can. Often, I seek out Web quests or global projects that allow my students to interact with other schools and areas of the world. Currently, we are taking part in a nationwide "Tooth Tally" project, which allows us to track and graph tooth loss data and share it with other schools around the country. We graph the information using the Create a Graph website. In order to reinforce the skill of graphing, we graph the number of teeth lost in all the first grades by creating a "Tooth Tally" bulletin board (in Figure 1) registering the lost teeth. At the end of each month, we discuss the greatest number of teeth lost as well as the least number of teeth lost. We also discuss and read dental health and tooth fairy stories and illustrate pictures of the tooth fairy and mouths with and without teeth (see Figure 2).

Figure 1. The Tooth Tally Bulletin Board

Figure 2. A Tooth Project

Finally, technology in our classroom allows my students to be self-motivated and self-directed learners. They are learning how to interact with other students using email. Every month, we use email to write to other schools around the country. Moreover, they use the Internet to research topics (see Figure 3) as well as communicate with others.

Figure 3. A Working Student

Learning in the current world requires students to be more globally competitive. Addibng an assortment of software and hardware applications to my teaching provides my students with experiences that will allow them to interact more efficiently with others around the world and become more globally competitive.

Email:Nicole Luongo