Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Starting an Elementary Tech Club

I am looking forward to starting an 8-week tech club at one of the K-4 elementary buildings that I support.  I want to give students the opportunity to choose their own learning path with a guide on the side to assist where needed.  My hope is that by exposing them to various web tools and programs (available via our Windows PCs), they will bring ideas back to their classrooms and ask to incorporate these tools in their projects.

Question:  What is the best way to use web2.0 tools with 9 year-old 4th grade students that do not have email addresses?  If I want to introduce them to tools such as Animoto, Prezi and Voicethread - should I create a generic account and share that login information with the group?  Since I'm hoping that students will work on projects in between our meetings, is it acceptable that they log on with this class account from home?

I'm anxious to hear your thoughts/experiences!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Student Empowerment!

Yesterday during indoor recess, I stopped in a classroom to introduce some third graders to Google Earth (side note - don't expect 3rd graders to get off to learn about a new tool!).  Anyway, when I entered the room, the substitute teacher told me that two of her students wanted to ask the principal for permission to access a certain website.  I approached the students to see if I could assist since the principal was out of the building.  They told me that they wanted to access Minecraft.

At the time, I thought Minecraft involved a download, but they told me that they could log in directly through the site.  So I asked them to take me to the website (which they were SUPER excited about).  Soon, I found out that the website was blocked by our filter.  I asked the two 3rd grade students, "Do you think Minecraft is an educational site that can be used in school?"  They started spouting off tons of reasons, one of which involved "learning about how two animals kiss to make a baby" (what?!?)  After hearing their multitude of reasons, I suggested the following idea:

"Why don't you write a letter to the principal and our tech director, listing the reasons why you think Minecraft should be allowed in school."  The kids reactions were priceless.  "Really!?!  We can do that?!  We can tell them.....<more excited spouting of reasons why Minecraft should be allowed, none of which I understood since I'm just becoming familiar with the game>."

I asked the kids to get a piece of scrap paper (never saw students move so fast to get paper) and wrote in the center, Why Minecraft should be allowed in school, to get them started on their web.

Me:  Do you know about persuasion?
Students:  Yes!  PIE - persuade, inform, entertain!
Me:  Yes, you've identified the 3 reasons why people write.  The purpose of this writing is to persuade.  You can write down your ideas or make a presentation on the computer and I'll help you send it to the principal and our tech director.

With that, indoor recess was over and the kids didn't have time to work on their web of ideas.  I will check in on their progress next week and encourage them again if needed.  I wish I could have captured their excitement when the students found out they could impact the allowance of Minecraft in school.  How do you empower your students to take action on something that they're passionate about?