Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Computers and Classrooms

I read a blog today that was talking about using Social Media in classrooms. It was quite interesting...and it made me think of my experiences lately with subbing.

One funny thing about teachers is that they often know very little about the computer world. Oh sure, every school has tons of computers, but when you really look at how they use them it's not always that impressive. I'll never forget volunteering in Jill's class when she was in Grade Four. Her teacher knew nothing about computers...literally. He looked at computer time as free time for him, I think. He had no idea how to navigate the programs they had to use. If someone asked him a question he got grumpy. It was sad really.

The place I've been subbing has really grabbed on to the idea of Smart Boards - and it's so exciting. The other day when I was subbing the "Special Person of the Day" was busy on the Smart board while I did attendance. He looked up the temperature on Weather.ca and graphed it on an electronic graph in front of everyone. Then the kids said, "Let's look at the temperature in Miramichi!" And so they did. And then a few more suggestions came. It was a beautiful day here, but all around our city and to the south there was a blizzard happening. Schools were closed everywhere. So I said to them, "We should look up the weather in Lethbridge!" They were astounded to see the pictures.

....and the Smart Board use continued throughout the day. In Language Arts I had the page up on the Smart Board that they were working on, and filled it in along with them while we checked their work. Then when they were working on something else I said, "Okay, everyone has 4 minutes to finish up!" and I set the timer on a program and displayed it on the Smart Board. Everyone knew how much time was left and when the timer went off they all quickly got into ready position so we could continue on. At lunch time they asked if they could watch some Tumble Books. I had no idea what that was - but soon learned. It was amazing! So they watched some stories read while they ate lunch - and the stories we picked were ones that related to things we had talked about in the morning It was amazing. While they were working on some science work the conversation amongst a group turned to the Olympics. As they talked someone wondered aloud whether the Winter or Summer Olympics were first. They couldn't decide so they asked me. In my best teacher way I said, "Why don't we look it up?" and so we googled it on the Smart Board. We found out the Summer Olympics were first. Then someone else asked, "Well, when were the first Winter Olympics?" Once again.....Google to the rescue. Later while they were working on a Science project about Hot and Cold temperatures one girl was drawing a penguin. She came to me with one of those typical Grade two questions: "Do penguins have ears?" That one I really didn't know.....so we googled again and found out that they do, but they don't have an outer piece like our ears, just a hole.

It was all so amazing to see this learning take place right on the spot! In the past I would have said, "That's a great question! Why don't you look that up when you get home." But instead we did it right there and then.

I get excited about those kinds of things in a classroom!

Oh, and here's the great You Tube video that inspired this post. I think it's stand-alone-great!

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