I am placed in a 1st grade class this semester, and it is anything but boring. The students are enthusiastic and overall have a positive out look on life.
The class has more of a laid back feel than some of the other classrooms that I have been in. For example, they have an elderly helper in the room called “Granny”. Granny helps the teacher and also interacts with the kids. They adore her.
The teacher of the class is awesome. She is patient and shows kindness towards her students. I can tell the students respect her because they listen to her when she speaks and they care when she is upset. When she asks them to do something, they do it.
To each other, the children are kind, sassy and supportive. They always want to help each other, ALWAYS. Even if they are working on independent work, they are always in each others’ business and I often have to remind them to worry about their selves. But, they are kind to each other, and when one of them is having a rough moment, they genuinely care.
When I am there, I lead a small group that offers intervention for those who need it. The teacher will write down the names of students who I will be working with, and what they will be working on. Then, as a small group we work through problems and I focus on scaffolding them to achieve the correct answers.
In the small groupsI lead, I notice that the children sometimes get an attitude with one another. For example, when we are working on workbook pages, if one student is taking a little more time on a question (because we take turns completing the questions), then other students will become frustrated and want to move on. They often say things such as “come on!” and “Hurry!”. In these cases, I remind them we are a team and we need to help each other so we all understand.
In the classroom, the students have iPads that are available for use. On these iPads, they use apps such as EPIC and MobyMax. Epic, is an app that is basically an online library. Today, the students needed to research Mae Jenison, and because YouTube is blocked, they were able to search her name on EPIC, and find educational books tiered to their grade levels about her life. They also use Moby Max as an online testing practice. This app offers practice in different subjects, and is a way for the student to practice skills and be tested on them. Then, the grades are sent to the teacher so she can monitor. For example, the students today were practicing literacy and reading so they would have to read a passage and answer questions.
I did notice a downside of this. If the students could not read or understand the questions, they would become upset and want to quit. Also, the volume on some of the iPads were not working which really frustrated the children and even made one of them cry. The students had iPad time for quite a while today and with the technical difficulties, they wanted to be finished within 15 minutes. I observed a lot of the students loosing focus and and asking “when is lunchtime?”
From this, I realized that too much technology time, especially when it wasn’t organized completely, was un affective because the students became bored and frustrated and lost interest.F
When I asked my students about their uses of digital and social media outside of school, I received very similar responses. They all agreed that the had either an iPad or smartphone to play games on. The games ranged from MobyMax to Minecraft. All in all, the students had a strong relationship with technology out of the classroom.
The article, Engaging Students in Traditional and Digital Storytelling to Make Connections Between Pedagogy and Children’s Experiences, by Lisnbee and Ford say that “traditional storytelling in an early childhood classroom is the product of students interacting socially with the elements in a book.” (135) Then, they go onto explain how digital storytelling can be implemented in a classroom, and its benefits. They even go the extra mile to convert CCSS into digital-friendly definitions.
I think this would greatly benefit the children in my class because they seem bored. When ever they have to read something, they never show enthusiasm towards it and, when asked to recall information, they respond with “this is stupid” (which all teachers know is an excuse used when they don’t know the answer). Implementing digital storytelling into the classroom would spark the students interest and engage them more, because they all have a passion for technology. They would be required to interact with the text in a deeper way including drawing story boards and scripts to reenact what they have read.
By integrating of digital storytelling into classrooms, we are actually reinforcing the 5 literary elements. This is because we are encouraging students to make a deeper connection with the text and this allows “students to relate stories to their personal experiences and make connections to academic content.” (136) So, they are bringing their personal lives into academics which is robust in the way they are creating meaning with their learning.
Also, digital storytelling would help improve their writing process as well. An article titled The Effects of Digital Story In Improving The Third Graders’ Writing Skills By, Ahmet Yamac and Mustafa Ulusoy proved that this is possible. They concluded that by having students make digital stories and participate in the online editing process helped their writing editing. This was because students were able to take their online editing skills like deleting, modifying and adding and use that on actual paper.
But of course to do this, students would need to be able to use technological tools at such a young age, and this may be tricky. However, children as young as three years old can work their parents’ iPhone to reach Candy Crush, so with the right support, students can be able to use technology in order to create digital stories.
Overall, I think that more integration of technology in the classroom would be beneficial. It would spark students interest, and engage them more in the reading. I am excited about what I have learned about my students’ relationships with technology, and I am looking forward to learning more.