I am used to teaching younger students. I taught Kindergarten for eight years, and this is my first year teaching Grade 1. When you teach younger children, you quickly become used to providing them with a lot of support, even as you strive to teach them independence. When I talk to many of my colleagues at other schools, they are surprised that I use so much technology with my students, as they don’t know how I’m able to offer them the support that they need to be successful. As I tell these other teachers and as I will tell you too, “My activities that involve technology are the ones that I worry about the least. There is rarely a problem with these activities.” I mean this too. It’s incredible, but somehow or other, these activities are the ones where my students do seem to show the most independence.
All that being said, it was this week that I saw just how independent Grade 1’s can be when using technology. Not only can they use these tools, but they can problem-solve using these tools too. It started off on Tuesday afternoon when I took my class up to the computer lab. My students were creating Wordles on living things. I allowed them to print the Wordles that they created. One of my students came to me with a problem though. She just printed her Wordle, but somehow some of the words down the right-hand margin were cut-off. I told her that I thought that this was about as good as it was going to get. This student didn’t like what I had to say though, so she came up with her own solution. She opened up the Notebook software on the computer, took a screen capture of her Wordle, resized it, and exported it as a large JPEG file. Then she re-printed … and success! Oh my goodness! I would have never thought of this solution, but this six-year-old knew what to do, and used the technology available to her to solve the problem independently.
Now let’s move ahead to Wednesday. My students were beginning a new blog post on the SMART Board, and they ran into a problem. One student thought that a particular word was a compound word and another student did not. The two students came to me and asked if they could use Google to solve the problem. I was sceptical, but I said to give it a try. They typed the word into the Google search bar, looked on Google images, and found from the bolded words underneath the images that this word was not a compound word – problem solved! The power of technology is unbelievable.
The final amazing moment came on Thursday though. I just began new math centres with the class on Thursday, and one of them was a Wallwisher activity on measurement. While I’ve used Wallwisher many times before, I was running into major problems getting the students to post sticky notes on the wall. Error messages kept on appearing. To problem-solve, I had the students use Google Docs to type in their posts, and at home that night, I copied and pasted their ideas onto the wall. I just finished doing this when I got a tweet from one of my Grade 1 students. She went onto Wallwisher and made her own wall on Valentine’s Day (embedded below). This student told me to just sign-out of my account and try posting a sticky note then. I tried … and it worked! Using this same method, my class then added sticky notes to this student’s wall on Friday, and many of them, added more sticky notes on Friday night. I love it that the Grade 1 student was the one that solved my technology problems for me!
I’m sure that I’m not the only one with these technology success stories though. Please share your own here too. I would love to hear them!