Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Who Says Using Technology Impedes Social Interaction?

It doesn't have to!  Another service learning project yesterday, mission accomplished.  This time the 6th graders came out from Holy Cross Catholic School. As blossoming middler schoolers, you might expect some challenges, but not this group. They quietly came in and my pre-service graduate students worked with 3-4 students at a time.  We covered the essentials of internet safety, cyberbullying through role-playing activities and showing them various videos provided free by:

The students proceeded to move forward with their Powerpoint projects and SMARTboard notebook activities individually on the RU computer lab desktop computers.  The activities we had them engaged in were built off their interests and curriculum from their classroom. As they excitedly went throught the creation and completion of their projects, a clear constant varaible was evident: they repeatedly were showing each other their work.

I'll be honest, this was not an avenue we were directly encouraging or had focused on. Their confidence was on the rise. Their motivation and excitement was expressed through their positive behavior and sharing of their work.  I must say, I was reminded quickly, as I'm sure my pre-service teachers were, the crucial piece of allowing students to ENJOY learning. The Holy Cross students were skipping around showing their color printed copies of their powerpoints, pointing out their frog dissection from the SMARTboard, and discussing how and why they were using the programs. As educators, we must offer them opportunities through small groups, 'think, pair, share' activities and informal, open conversations to move around and proudly communicate their hard work.

As schools rapidly progress towards new technologies,  individualizing instruction, offering 1:1 technology tools initiatives; the promising theme is clear: motivating students to do their best and share their hard work. Time is tight during the classroom day, but social interaction and keeping high expectations for students to discuss the evidence of their learning is a key factor in a collaborative community.

Special thanks to the RU Department of Education graduate students: Felicia Cash, Matt Dow, Nicole Flowers, Rebecca Paul and Rose Rylko.

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