Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?

Five of my pre-service teachers (graduate students) found out they indeed were smarter than 5th graders, but learned a great deal! Through their first Service Learning Project this semester from the course I teach: Technology in the Classroom: Applications and Implications they had the wonderful opportunity to work with twenty-two 5th graders from Holy Cross Catholic School. The students arrived energized and ready to learn!

We started off in Sedgwick 307 computer lab and discussed the importance of learning technology, and keeping them all safe on the internet. The fifth graders went through different scenarios with their ‘teacher’ (RU Department of Education graduate student) of how to handle being bullied on line/texting/social networking. The Hoy Cross students also read, discussed and signed an age appropriate internet safety pledge to follow:  http://www.netsmartz.org/Resources/Pledges . 

This is an amazing resource for each student about internet safety, cyber bulling and technology responsibility. Each student was placed in a group with one 'partner teacher'. They introduced themselves and learned a little bit about each other. After some lunch and dessert, they were ready to roll up their sleeves and work hard. We moved over to  Van Ackeren 310 lab, which is a smaller lab. This enabled us to work together and help all students. Five of my graduate students: Matt, Rose, Felicia, Paula, and Rebecca each worked with a group of about 5 students each and showed them how to make their own PowerPoint presentation.

It was a success! Although the Holy Cross fifth grade students had not worked in PowerPoint program before, they jumped in and got started right away. They enjoyed creating a PowerPoint about themselves. They created five slides about their favorite area in school and their goals for the future while inserting pictures, different designs and animations. Their end products exceeded our expectations. It truly confirmed: our current generation are the Digital Natives.

My graduate students were able to facilitate the learning taking place and gain experience working with 'live' students, the ones they read about in their textbooks. This is crucial in teacher education programs. The days of field experience where students only observe and do not engage with K-12 students is in the past, especially here at RU.  I was proud of the warm spirits and guidance my students showed 'their' students and the amazing behavior and product the Holy Cross students showed that special day at Rockhurst University.

What made this Service Learning Project even more rewarding was when Dave Rush, the Holy Cross Catholic School's 5th grade teacher sent an email after writing:
“Thank you for including the 5th grade with your ed tech program.  We are very excited about the trip yesterday and have had 4 students report today they went home to see if they had PowerPoint on their home computer. Thank you for increasing our students’ awareness of the world around them.”

Note: Lunch, Materials, and Transportation were funded through the Thomas More Center Grant through Catholic Studies, RU.