Our school has made a real push to use more technology in the classroom. Particularly in kindergarten classrooms, we were told to make our use of technology at the point of instruction more apparent. We have 2 desktop computers and 2 iPads in our classrooms at all times and we can sign out laptops and tablets from our library. So we do have technology available- I just struggled to come up with a way to use it in the classroom that isn’t just students playing games on them. Here are some of the hurdles that I saw with using technology in our kindergarten class, and how I found some solutions!
- What can students use? There are a plethora of apps and programs that are available for us to use. Too many for me to go through them all individually to find out which ones are suitable to use in the classroom. So I reached out to co-workers to find out what they were using, and we spoke to admin about showing us more programs that are available. So far, the app we have used is Draw and Tell by Duck Duck Moose. It is awesome. Students can use stickers and color their own pictures. Once they are done making their picture, they can record their voice and move the stickers around on the screen and it records it all. This file can then be saved and students can watch and listen to what they have recorded. The computer program we have used is Pixie. This one is a little bit harder for the younger ones to use, but they can still get through using it with a little help. It works like PowerPoint- they can use stickers, draw and write on slides. These can then be saved and printed. I am constantly on the lookout for more programs for them to use and I hope to find even more like them.
- Teaching them how to use it. Some students have iPads and computers at home and don’t need much instruction on how to use them. Others struggle to understand how to use technology. That’s why I have a whole group lesson on how to use the programs before students start using them. I plug the iPad or computer into our projector and I show them step-by-step how to use the programs. I started off by just showing them how to login, now I am slowly adding apps and programs that they can use. Once a few students know how to use a program they become the ‘experts’ and when another student needs help, they can ask the ‘expert’. This way I am not running back and forth from computers to try to help students. This has helped a lot!
- How to make it a meaningful part of their learning. Fantastic, students have created their own masterpieces on the computer and iPads- in our case it was making up their own subtraction stories! The slides that were created with Pixie I was able to print them out and showcase them, but the videos made with Draw and Tell were a bit harder to display. Students worked hard to make a story and record their voice, but then the file is just sitting on the iPad. I struggled to find a way to showcase this work- how can they see their finished product and share it with their peers? I thought about this for a few days and I came up with a solution, one that I am sure is not original, but I was still pretty proud of myself for thinking of it! I took all the videos and made them into a movie. I used the app iMovie on the tablets, put all their videos together and created one long movie with all their subtraction stories so they could hear their own voices and also listen to other students’ stories! They loved it!
- How do I share their work with parents? The students loved creating their work- and wanted to share it with their families. Now I had to think of a way to share our subtraction story movies with them too. And again (not an original idea) a light bulb went off- YouTube! I uploaded the students’ movie to YouTube and shared the link to it on our classroom blog. Now students could watch their stories at home and families could get a glimpse of the awesome work their child did. I also created QR codes from the YouTube link, printed them out and put them on our bulletin board outside our classroom. So now anyone visiting the school can listen to their stories too!
These were all things that I struggled with over the week of making these subtraction stories- and it all came together in the end with our awesome bulletin board that showcases all the abilities in our classroom. It has the hand illustrated subtraction stories, the stories made and printed from the computer and the link to the videos the students made. It was a learning curve- and I hope I am able to continue to explore different ways we can use technology in our classroom in a meaningful way!
Do you have any great apps or programs you use in the classroom? How do you share the technology side of learning with families?