Students using technology

My fifth-grade students run our school newscast.  Everyday out fifth-graders lead the school in announcements, the pledge, and general information.  I am blown away by how well the students can take the technology they are learning and put it to use immediately!  One of the teachers on the fifth-grade team helps coordinate our students on a daily basis for our TV programs which we call “Tiger TV”.  We have two green screens, a mini-mac, two camera’s lights, a teleprompter, and a board which controls all of the broadcast.  We have students which run all of the equipment on their own.  We have developing our TV program over the past three years and each year we add in a new feature.  Just last week we added the teleprompter.  Well, today it turns out that the two teachers that are always in the broadcast room with the students were both out sick!  YIKES!!!  Our students rose the occasion and ran all of the equipment on their own!  It was an amazing broadcast!  We have several students that are our students directors and then all of the other students rotate on and off of Tiger on a three week basis.  The students that are rotating off of the broadcast train the new students on the equipment.  This year we have even starting allowing our fifth-graders to write our scripts.  I am amazed every day at how well the students acclimate to technology!

I was thinking about this because of another blog post I was reading earlier about letting students play in the sandbox.  This is a concept that was developed by Vicki Davis and the author of the blog was discussing why it is important to allow students to play on technology that we are introducing them to so they feel comfortable.  I think that concept is extremely important and I believe that is why our students have taken ownership of our news broadcast; because they have been able to play, with guidance, and then today when they had to take control and use the technology they had no issue!  The students are using so many different software programs to run the equipment, even from a PC and a Mac, and they have no difficulty.  Allowing students to play in the sandbox and develop a level of comfort with the software will insure success in using software when they are required to apply the skills in class.

I can see in my own classroom where I haven’t let the students play in the sandbox and then I spent a LOT of time troubleshooting with the students.  If we give sandbox time on the front end, time will be saved throughout the lesson.

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Blogging mistakes

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This blog is my first attempt at a blog and I am still working on figuring out all that goes into a blog and exactly how to use a blog.  Early this year, I entered my class in a blogging challenge.  I forgot that I had entered us into the challenge until we started getting hits to our blog from the challenge website.  The challenge is all about teaching our students to be better bloggers!  What a great concept because the reason we use blogs in the classroom is the help students understand that we are part of a global community and to really harness the power of Web 2.0 – the collaboration web.  I want my students to understand how to blog and why blogging is important.  Blogging isn’t important just to say that we have technology in our classroom, it is a discussion starter!  So the blog challenge is teaching students how to make their blogging a discussion and how to harness all the power we have in the internet into our posts and make them more interesting and promote discussion.

The challenge for week 5 was to have students insert links and pictures into their comments.  I must confess, I am still a little confused on this part.  It took me a bit to understand that when commenting on a blog post the students couldn’t just hyperlink, they actually had to write html code to insert the link!  I love the idea of the students learning html in fifth-grade, but I must admit my fifth-graders are having a difficult time figuring it all out.

I also told they students in my original post that they had to insert a picture into their comment.  I am still working on this issue but now I am learning that inserting pictures into a comment may not be possible.  In the original post students may put pictures but I am still researching if students can put pictures in a comment.  If you know the answer would you please pass it along?  I had to go in and edit my post to my students and remove the picture portion of their blog requirement this week because I am still trying to figure pictures out!

I am sure that I will make many more mistakes with regards to our class blog, but I am having so much fun learning about how to have my students effectively blog!  My students love being part of the web and web based discussions.  Their writing skills are improving, the only thing missing is a true debate or discussion.  Maybe that will be my focus next!