Before our students can read books to learn information, they have to learn how to read. Before they can write essays we teach them how to write their letters. Before they can find equivalent fractions we have to teach them to multiply. So why should teaching technology be any different?
We can’t expect to introduce a new technology tool and for kids to automatically know how to use it (although they may know how to use it as a toy, but that’s entirely different.) Yes, it takes extra time that we don’t feel like we have. But as far as I’m concerned, if we don’t make the time to teach technology, we are doing a severe disservice to the children whose minds have been entrusted to us.
In our standardized testing scores from last year our kids’ writing scores were quite low. We were wondering how much of that is writing ability and how much of it is our kids’ inability to type. I’ve seen kids plan a whole beautiful paragraph on a computer test and then after frustratingly hunting and pecking at the keys they give up and write one sentence. They do practice typing every week in technology class, but thinking up what you want to write while you are typing it is a very different skill. So to combat this struggle, I piloted something this week that I want to implement in all our third grade classes.
We are very fortunate to have 6 ipads in each classroom along with keyboards. So I borrowed all the third grade iPads so I had a whole set and I decided to have my kids do a writing on demand: essentially I gave them a prompt and they had 45 minutes to write a single draft of a story. So much of the writing we do is writing process, spending several weeks on one piece of writing. This is a totally different skill.
I knew I would have to start with an intro lesson. So my first day was all about how to get logged into Google Docs on the iPads, how to create a document, how to share a document, and how to type. This went great until we went to put everything away in a rush, then everything was a mess. Each teacher has an iPad cart that we got from Ikea that is labeled with their name. I knew we needed a better system for getting the iPads into and out of the cards next time. More on that later.
Then that night I went in to my google drive to see how many of the kids’ docs got shared with me. (I know this whole process would be much easier on Google Classroom, but I’m just not there yet.) About half of them successfully shared docs with me (their email addresses all end in @prospectridgeacademy.org so there were spelling mistakes gallore.) I pasted the writing prompt for the next day in those docs already shared with me. That helped me the following day because the kids knew if they didn’t have the prompt in their document, they needed to reshare it with me.
The following day I implemented my cart captains. I put a student in charge of each cart, taking ipads off, putting them back on, and ensuring that each iPad was placed on the correct cart. I also assigned students to a specific cart. It was much less of a free-for-all. The majority of the students could get logged on and started by themselves. I had a handful of kids I had to help and get them to share the doc with me, but overall it went really smoothly!
I know it took a few extra lessons that I “don’t really have time for,” but I really do think this is valuable and I will definitely do it again. I’m thinking this is the start of something new for my class! (I couldn’t help it, High School Musical just had their 10 year anniversary! Haha)
Next time I think I’ll try sharing the doc with my students first, and then they won’t have to type my email address in order to share it with me. Then I really need to try out Google Classroom. This kind of this is exactly what Classroom is designed for. I also want to look into getting us an email shortcut to bypass the @ForeverLongEmailAddress.org 😉