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Using Technology: Second-Graders Inspire Their Teacher – and Each Other
For second-grade teacher and blogger Erin Klein, technology in the classroom is always about responding to the world kids already live in.
At least that is how it started, and how it evolved.
Klein was teaching kindergarten when she noticed how her 6-year-old was drawn to technology.
“I wondered what would happen if I brought it in for my own students,” she said. Her daughter, the eldest of Klein’s two children, was “my guinea pig,” Klein laughs.
But Klein was amazed with the response in the classroom. The students “grew by leaps in bounds.” Technology helped Klein zero in on which students needed help where.
It was just the beginning.
If students responded to it, why not tap into that to deepen learning, Klein wondered.
“At first, it was just fun,” Klein said. “But over time, I think I’ve tried to become more purposeful with my approach and tying it to the standards.”
Now, it’s her common practice. Her student at Cranbrook Educational Community in Michigan go on technological journeys that strengthen reading and understanding.
“We still talk about character traits and write in our reader’s notebook,” she said, “but I try to do things differently.”
Taking the Students’ Lead
Often that means letting the students take the lead, just as Klein’s daughter did the first time.
For example, when students came back from winter break, many brought new devices — smartphones, Google books or new tablets they received over the holidays.
And even though they weren’t old enough to use Instragram, she noticed her students were keen on the service.
“What,” she asked, “would Doctor Doolittle (or the other characters in their reading) take photos of?”
And a project was launched, bridging students’ needs to understand character development with their interest in Instagram. When the final images were put up on the hallway walls at school, the students loved how others buzzed with excitement about the project, Klein said.
3 Keys to Making Technology Effective
While Klein’s blog features lots of recommended tools and tips, Klein said the most important factors for making technology work are being creative, staying open-minded and getting the students involved.
“I bring the kids into the planning process by letting them know what I’m thinking about and getting their feedback,” Klein said. “That way they are tied in and want it to be successful as well.”
As far as creativity, ideas are everywhere, Klein said. She keeps up with journals and blogs, borrowing fun ideas wherever she sees them.
“You don’t have to be original,” Klein said. “I think if you want to get into technology find something that someone has used and make it yours.”