How can technology enhance the learning experiences of lower elementary students, and allow for them to produce better work?
ISTE Standard 1 discusses a variety of ways in which students can utilize technology to “demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes” (ISTE Standard 1). As I read through Build engagement and knowledge one block at a time with minecraft, I was impressed by the author’s ability to identify that Minecraft can be used as a way to engage reluctant learners, and create an effective learning tool from a game (Tromba, 2013). While the article discussed the use of Minecraft in Middle School, I realized that tools and games like this could probably be used in lower elementary grades.
The article Introducing social media to elementary students (retrieved at http://www.edutopia.org/blog/introducing-social-media-lower-elementary-beth-holland) illustrated a variety of ways to bring social media into the classroom in a safe manner, while allowing students to learn about the world around them without leaving the classroom (Holland, 2013). Holland describes how one 1/2 classroom uses Twitter, blogs, and Skype to allow children to network with other students globally. The discoveries made by these children could not be replicated if they were limited to classroom textbooks (Holland, 2013). In another example, the teacher created a blog bulletin board, where students could share their work and learn about the appropriate ways to respond to each other (Holland, 2013). Students were able to practice their writing while sharing their work with the school community. Other classrooms use Skype as a way to communicate with business leaders and other classrooms. According to Bhaskar (2013) students can engage in debates, reader’s theater, discussions, and collaborate with other students on projects (retrieved at http://edtechreview.in/trends-insights/insights/699-teachers-guide-classroom-to-classroom-interaction-using-skype-and-epals). Allowing students the opportunity to work with students from other parts of the world is helping them develop skills that will be an asset when they enter the workforce, since many professions require communication with individuals from other nations. Here is a video that demonstrates the benefits of using Skype in the classroom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zni56lVckb0
As a future educator, it is important to be aware of the ways technology can be brought into the classroom to facilitate collaboration and cross-cultural experiences, which both allow for deeper understanding and learning. While many of the writing activities could be difficult for Kindergartners to do individually, we could work as a class to create a blog where we discuss things we have been learning. Skype is another tool that can be useful across all grades. Through social media and technology, we can enhance learning experiences for our students by exploring other cultures from the comfort of our own classroom. I am excited to incorporate many of these technologies in my classroom to inspire students and help them excel.