Our last two blog posts have been aimed at the under-5-year-olds. Now we want to look at the over-5s. The school age children. When it comes to searching online for resources––this is where the money can be made so it’s not surprising that there are heaps of products. From guidance offered by school inspectors (the UK’s Ofsted), to ‘Free Educational Apps’, to creating ‘old school’ style reading flip charts, you can now use technology to find everything you need––and a few things you don’t.
Therefore here will illustrate our favourites and how they fit alongside both our TechnoTeacher “Daredevil Missions” and the reading milestones from our previous blog.
Age 5-6: Heads Down for Reading
Reading Support: Have fiction and nonfiction books & magazines available. Visit museums & libraries.
Dare Devil Mission: Explore the idea of genre while learning outside the classroom.
Why? At this point in a children’s learning, you will want them to be able to read letters, words, and sentences from the page. You can help them learn how by opening up the new ‘worlds’ of literature.
Begin by inviting children into the grown up world of culture. Help them understand that knowledge is valued in our society, and that as readers you are giving them the key to unlocking new worlds.
Tools: Seek out the best examples of local libraries and museums. Find out which have events to take in, and which have the best children’s section.
You can also ask children to design their own museum! Similarly, if you have a school library, encourage students to take real ownership by asking them what they can do to improve it.
Alternatively, you can use electronic research to find a book online, sorting by genre, author, or title. Consider different types of books, from reference material (“Guinness World Records” for example) to comic books. Then ask children to create their own mini-books based on what they like. Show them how to create their own comics (using 'Comic Life'), for example. Or try clicking on the “Guinness World Record” site and have children create comprehension questions they might ask another student, based on what they learned.
If you want to encourage first steps into museums, begin with the ones where you live. Do they have any family or exhibits geared specifically for children? You can also research national museums to find out what they offer online. Many will have online museum tours and games. For example, the The Natural History Museum in London has a great ‘What type of dinosaur are you?' quiz on their website. Similarly, the American Museum of Natural History, in New York City, has an app called ‘Power of Poison’, which can deepen and enrich children’s understanding of the exhibit.
Taking this exploration one step further, you could videoconference a team member of the museum for a Q&A session with your class, using Skype or Skype Classroom. Not only will this virtual visit cut out the paperwork for an actual trip, but it might also help forge a new relationship with an outside organisation.
If you have another other apps or websites that you would like to share,please add a comment below!
N & J x
As summer is upon us, thoughts turn to taking an exotic class trip. But who will be willing to fund our wanderlust? Rather than dealing with passports, travel expenses, and lost luggage, why not take a virtual field trip?
New Jersey Kindergarten teacher, Karen Marinoff, has just taken her students on a virtual field trip to Costa Rica this past April. The children flew on a virtual airplane, ate native Costa Rican dishes, studied the rain forest, grew exotic plants, learned about volcanoes, and became experts on animals that are native to this region. Ms. Marinoff has been planning these trips for years. The countries that she and her students have visited include China, Hawaii, Africa, Mexico, France, and many more countries far from the US’s mid-Atlantic region. Children learn as much as they can about a country (of their choice) all year long, learn words and phrases from the region, keep a journal of what they’ve learned, and create presentations using digital media.
The class’s itinerary once they landed in Costa Rica included visiting a butterfly farm, a coffee plantation, a pineapple farm, a zip lining spot, and the rain forest—all with curricular ties to math, art, music, science, and social studies. (See kidssavingtherainforest.org, for example.)
Sometimes you just need a mini-field trip as well. So, children and their families met for dinner at nearby restaurant where they enjoyed dishes such as fried yucca, empanades, and Tres Leches cakes. I would like to think that the children even had a chance to try out their Spanish when ordering...
So, TechnoTeachers, what about doing a mini-version of field trip this spring, and then start the year off with a more ambitious version next fall? Think about the digital resources students can use to learn about the culture of the country. Talk with your colleagues about how you could adapt this project for students in upper elementary and middle grades. This could be your TechnoTeaching 'Mission' (for more details please see the book).
Oh, and my own grandson, Martin, “traveled” to Africa when he was in Ms. Marinoff’s class—an experience that made a deep impression on him. As his teacher said, studying other countries helps children understand “. . . how they fit the world.”
Or, like Nic have you visited afar? As you know the location is only the start of the learning process. She took a group of A Level students from (Reading in) the UK to Los Angeles for a film trip (mainly paid by car washing and part-time jobs). It was organised via email and the students created a documentary video, that was screened at their mini-Oscars back at home, following exams.
Have you ever tried anything like this? What other ideas or top tips can you share when it comes to school trips? Or what advice would you give others?
(Taken from a report by L Haber, The Haddonfield Sun, April 29-May 6, 2014.)
“I’ve got some skin in the game,” we might hear from a politician. Or a businessperson might say, “We give our workers stock options. That way they’ve got some ‘skin in the game’”. (Nic says: It translates as having a strategic person (skin) in a field of play (game) for those of us outside of the USA.)
What about educators? When do we have ‘skin in the game’? Look around your school. How many teachers do you see who are assessing students because it’s something they’ve just gotta do. The results will likely end up on a spreadsheet, in a folder, deep inside a file cabinet, in a locked room. Take another look. How many teachers are letting their students use Chromebooks to write stories only because their students twisted their arms to let them try out a new online tool? How many principals do you see using digital tools to track student progress in reading and math—only because the Superintendent of Schools insists that they do?
No skin in the game!
In each case, the impetus for trying out a new digital tool comes from outside forces, rather than from within. There is no personal stake in the endeavor. No ownership. Which means little motivation. Followed by little to gain or lose.
When we work with teachers on implementing innovations, we need to make sure they are stakeholders. We need to give them a reason to care about their investment. Paint a picture of why they should spend the time and effort—whether it’s in taking on one of Nic’s Dare Devil Missions (see our next post or read it in the book!) teaching kids how to illustrate their stories with digital art tools, or record student interviews with each other.
What can you do to up the ante for everyone you teach with?
· Help each educator feel that he/she has a stake in the student-learning outcome of a particular innovation.
· Motivate students by showing them that they can have a strong impact on their own success through practice, hard work, and taking risks in their learning.
· Remind parents that their involvement in their children’s learning will have profound implications for years to come.
If we all feel invested in creating innovative, 21st Century schools, if people at all levels have skin in the game, then the odds are strong that we can make powerful changes that will greatly improve teaching and learning.
What have you found to be true? How do you get your colleagues interested in innovation and change? We want to hear from you!
I have been thinking about you TechnoTeachers out there who are keen to know what’s next. So, here is a short round up of new tech/ edSites either on the market, new to the market or about to be launched. What can you add to the list? Please pop us a note below!
In no particular order:
1. Polariod Socialmatic The old school camera that still prints instantly but now can be linked with your apps. Nice.
2. Educade. Want to integrate lesson plans and 21st edtech? Visit this. Aimed at narrowing the gap and STEM, I am sure you will find something to help you here.
3. Want to take professional shots on your Smart phone? Try this = the iPro lens system. Very impressive.
4. Heard of the Pebble? Basically if you don’t want to pull your phone out of your pocket or bag, this watch will tell you who is trying to contact you.
5. Want a tablet and a laptop? Try the new, hinged HP 360. No sure why no-one had thought of this sooner!
6. Want a camera with a difference? The Panomo Camera Ball (yes, you read it here) gives incredible shots and this is a camera that you will want students to throw as high as they can!
7. Want to teach 3D printing? Ask Leo the Maker Prince to help you. The site is gorgeous!
8. EdTrips. Never plan a school trip again without it. It lets you manage permission forms, budgets and itineraries for trips all around the globe. You can even search from their list. Love it!
9. Lastly, if you want to see what else is out there, visit this site. EdTech Review has teachers reviewing edtech and can save you time too. Brilliant idea. Thinking I might join it myself!
The first copy of TechnoTeachers is here! Modelled by my lovely three year old son. I am blown away that after all of our work - the final piece is here... and forgive my smugness if you will - but I am a proper author. Yikes! I cannot wait until Jules gets hers!
If you would like to get your copy now, please use one of the links below. Will post earlier images for discount codes soon.
Outside of the USA
Harvard's international distributor (including Europe, Asia and outside of the USA), Eurospan
Harvard (although there seems a real issue on the site today - must be all of the orders!)
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This is where Jules and Nic will post articles, links to interesting sites and things that we think our TechnoTeachers will like.