So my learning over the last couple of weeks has been traumatic to say the least; but fortunately my situation didn’t stay there. My essential question has changed numerous times, due to lack of resources and knowledge. First not being able to pursue my original question because I didn’t have the right age-range of students for data collection; then joining into a project with peers, yet not being able to keep up due to lack of tech skills; and to top it all off, I’ve suffered through three different illnesses… it’s been a tough time. However, after panicked days of grasping at straws, a guardian angel arose out of my PLN and not only bolstered my spirit, but aided in my quest for knowledge! (Plain speech: I connected with a friend’s mother, who happens to have a Masters in Ed Tech, after a depressed rant on Facebook). I am cramming more work into a drastically shortened amount of time, but at least I know where I’m going now!
Question (the REAL one… I swear!)
What are best practices for integrating technology to meet State Standards for 1st grade reading/writing with limited resources (hardware)?
The ideal classroom would be for every student to be equipped with the most cutting edge technology and everyone had experience using said devices. But honestly, what is the reality of that happening? Schools generally have thread-bare budgets. Lucky classes that are equipped with the newest tech are usually considered “set” for the next few years, and the hardware becomes too quickly obsolete. Teachers are not only facilitators for 21st century learners. Sometimes, they must be “survival artists” of technology. This study would evaluate the best ways to make the most out of limited resources that are available, yet still meeting the established standards.
**As previously stated, I’m still catching up, so this current document is nowhere near as polished as my finished project will be. However, I have come across some very helpful materials.
Use what you have. Greg Limperis (2011) offered ideas on how to use technology in the classroom on a very limited budget. Using hardware that is generally easily accessible, Limperis suggests turning televisions into projectors for whole class learning. Most relatively new cellphones have cameras built into them. Limperis suggests having the students bring in their own and use the digital cameras to create stories and/or movies. His suggestions of sites in order to aide creative skills include: Glogster, Prezi, ToonDoo, Pixton, GoAnimate, and ZimmerTwins. He also encourages teachers to continue their PLN through sites such as Diigo.
Mary Beth Hertz (2010) also offers suggestions in how to make a single computer in the classroom work for the better good. By utilizing a workstation/rotation situation, students can: participate in a class wiki or website; create audiobooks; collaborate on a class story; blog; contribute to Voicethread; and create Screencasts. Erin Wasson (2012) expands further on the single computer concept, offering that with a projector, the whole class can participate in Webquests. She also suggests that for independent learning rotations, the teacher can create her own Screencast giving the students instructions for the given task instead of having to re-explain with each rotation.
Devices to use. With a limited budget, it’s important to prioritize. The common trend as of 2013 is the iPad, veritably the enlarged version of the iPod. The iPod is equipped with a digital camera, voice recording, playback capability, and internet access. In their action research report, Inmon and Vitale (2006) appropriately dubbed the iPod as the “Swiss Army knife of electronics.” Especially for primary grades, a tablet is much easier for students to use. It would be useful to at least have one in the classroom.
A majority of research utilized a projector of some kind. It is difficult to gather a group of students around a computer screen. A projector offers options of whole class involvement, or student interaction with guided controls.
Digital cameras are a simple, accessible way for students to express themselves. By capturing themselves and their world around them, students learn to evaluate their products and choose who they’d like to share it with.
With technology being adopted into current standards, each classroom generally has at least one computer. With access to the internet, this lone device can become a great tool for inspiring curiosity and creativity.
Context. I have the opportunity to work with a 1st grade class in a private school in Southeast Alaska. The students are diverse in their demographics. Even though this is a private school, the resources are extremely limited. The school has invested in a new iPad to equip the class. There is a single computer which is generally used in rotations. It is the beginning of the school year, so students haven’t yet been taught in proper rotation etiquette. This is a mixed grade classroom, which includes K4, K5, and 1st grade. The learning levels are extremely varied.
Method. I will be aiding the teacher in reading lessons with the 1st graders. When the iPad arrives, I will be bringing in my own personal projector so that I can demonstrate skills collectively and then work out way towards independent learning. Our focus will be on practicing reading skills and eventually creating our own stories.
Data collection. My proposed methods of data collection are the following: observation, interviews, artifacts, and the teacher’s anecdotal notes. This is very much a collaborative effort between the teacher and me, so we’ve agreed to keep each other apprised of the students’ progress. The plan is to have a finished product by the end of the three weeks, and that will become my artifact.
Hertz, M.B. (2010). Integrated technology with limited resources. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/free-tech-integration-resources
Inmon, T. & Vitale, N. (2006). Digital media devices and their effects on student literacy in primary grades. http://www.etech.ohio.gov/sites/all/themes/etechohio/images/sites/all/themes/etechohio/documents/ClevelandReport.pdf
Limperis, G. (2011). Integrating technology on a limited budget with little support. http://edtechdigest.wordpress.com/2011/06/15/integrating-technology-on-a-limited-budget-with-little-support/
Wasson, E. (2012). Integrated technology in a classroom with limited resources. http://erinwasson.weebly.com/1/post/2012/12/integrating-technology-in-a-classroom-with-limited-resources.html