My field observation this semester is at Gesu in a third grade classroom. My cooperating teacher is a very enthusiastic and dedicated teacher who differentiates her lessons with technology. The students in this classroom typically work with those they sit with, due to their seating arrangements being in pods of four. In addition to this grouping, the class also separates into groups of two for their reading instruction based on their current level of reading. The group who is currently at the higher level of reading leaves the classroom and are taught by another teacher, while the students at the lower level stay in the room with my cooperating teacher.
I have seen technology used greatly within the third grade classroom, and also in their special, which is called Enrichment. In terms of the technology I see within the third grade classroom, there is a SMART board at the front of the room. The teacher uses the SMART board for various things, such as: posting timers so students know how much time is left on particular activities, to demonstrate how to work on PowerPoint assignments, and assigning nightly homework assignments on Smart Notebooks. The second piece of technology that is used in the third grade classroom are the Lenovo laptops that sit in a cart, and are assigned to each student. On these laptops, students have the ability to read books with audio, take accelerated reading tests, and work on PowerPoints for projects. The last time I observed in the third grade classroom, my cooperating teacher assigned a new project that the students were able to view on their Google Classroom accounts.
I had the chance to sit down with my cooperating teacher and discuss what technology she uses in the classroom that I have not had the opportunity to see yet. She explained that there are various programs she takes advantage of when there is downtime in the classroom. She uses Learning Ally (an online program that serves as a reading support), Sushi Monster (an app to practice math skills), Brain Pop videos, and my personal favorite, Spelling City. I am very fond of Spelling City because it is a website that my cooperating teacher has the ability to program the spelling words of the week into. This then generates activities for the students to practice the words on while at home. A very beneficial aspect of this website, is the ability that the teacher has to view what activities each student has completed on the website, and how long they spend working on their words.
I also had the opportunity to visit the Enrichment class, and was pleasantly surprised to see all the technology outside of class available to students. Some examples of what students work with while in this special include lazar cutters and 3D printing.
After speaking to students about what technology they use outside of school, I was given a very long list of their favorite games and apps that they love playing. The students showed interest in Minecraft, Fortnite, Dragon Simulator, X Box games, and Spelling City.
One aspect of being a teacher that is crucial, is to take advantage of the great technology that is available to support your lessons. In addition, I also feel as though it is my responsibility to not only use what I know is available, but to also seek out new programs, apps, and websites! I read an article titled, Critical Lessons and Playful Literacies: Digital Media in PK-2 Classroom by Nicholas Husbye. This article discusses redefining what it means to write a story. From this article, I learned that through storyboarding, the rules of writing have changed due to the new ways to produce a meaningful story. This new way strays away from putting pen to paper, and rather places an emphasis on creativity in the technology world. It focuses more on using “voice as individual expression” through technology, such as storyboarding. Students are able to use technology as a creative outlet in order to convey the story they intend to tell.