Today was a bit frustrating. After having spent a relaxing few days off for Thanksgiving, I carefully planned out how I would use these 4 full weeks I have until the Holiday Break at the end of December.
5th grade was easy; they’re breaking in a new typing program for me, and finding all of the kinks and bugs. 4th grade is starting on the Word Wall Wiki project that I first attempted last year. So far, they’ve responded quite nicely, and I’m looking forward to what they can do. 3rd grade however…..
I’m not sure if it’s just the fact that I forget their 3rd graders, and just lack the experiences of the older students, or if they still haven’t grown out of the 2nd grade mindset of computers are mostly just for games and entertaining myself. While I would agree on the entertaining part, it frustrates me when a well laid plan backfires because students are overly engaged with a fantastic tool like Google Earth. Rather than take the time to listen to the instructions I was delivering, many of them focused on spinning the globe wildly, and seeing just how close they could zoom into the ocean. And this is after all of the “play time” I gave them before break with the program, and informed them that we would need to work hard today.
What frustrates me more is that I have a pretty nifty little project planned that entails the students using Google Earth’s search feature to find Police, Fire, Grocery Stores, Churches, Malls, and other places that newcomers to our area might want to find. They’re putting placemarks on the map for all of those “important to know” places, and then saving all of those placemarks into a folder they’ve created. Creating the folder (the first step of the project) is what is holding many of them up. I ask them to right-click (granted, we’ve only done it maybe once or twice before), and instantly half the class is confused. I know that I probably haven’t planned as brilliantly as I thought I had (I almost never do the first time around), but then to watch students that I knew weren’t getting it carry on with searching for random places, and ignoring my instructions meant that today’s lessons didn’t go well for me, and I need to do some serious “tweaking” and revising for tomorrow’s students.
I know these 3rd graders are smart; most of them remembered how to save to their network drives with very little prompting (something the 4th graders still have trouble with). They’re also very talkative, which I’ll have to work to my advantage in some sort of team or buddy fashion, but until that gels, I’ll have to ride this low-tide. Not that I mind it, as in teaching and all of life there are highs and lows. I just wish that some lows didn’t come off the heels of a break in which I thought everything was going smoothly.
Well, I had the wonderful idea to make graphs in Excel based on the information that we have collected in the M&M Data Survey with my two third grade math classes. Oh nelly! You are right they get so excited about what is going on they don’t care about directions. Normally when I introduce something I do include play time for a couple of minutes but you can’t really do play time with Excel. I even had the added bonus of explaining the ampersand and how to make it 40 zillion times.
Ben – I feel your pain. I work with 5th + 6th graders and have noticed over the years that ingesting turkey appears to cause memory loss (or maybe it’s the stuffing that does it). Heaven help us after a two week Holiday Break! Anyway, I’ve come up with a way to get students to stop what they’re doing & follow directions.
In my classes, we do ‘computer aerobics’. Students leave their computers and sit in front of my SmartBoard (pretzel legs + hands in lap or they’ll end up with ‘hamburger hands’ when Mrs. W accidently steps on them). We don’t have much room up front – about a 6’x8′ area – taking out my Smartboard dance floor – so students have to sit small or stand in the aisles. I demo a small strategie (e.g. right click & choose New and Folder). They go back to their computer, click on New and Folder, and return to the front where I demo how to name the folder.
If the demo is a ‘remember how to’ activity, we do ‘Step Aerobics’ – the top of the SmartBoard is too high for shorter 5th graders, so I have a chair to step up to the board while taller kids are proud to be able to stand next to the chair. In this activity, one student demos how to right click, another demos how to choose New, another chooses Folder, another names it. We do this to get the max # of students involved in the activity.
Since they are away from their computers, I pretty much get full attention, and with small demos, kids get some whole body movement.
perhaps a visual aid may help. A big picture of the the mouse with the right button highlighted.
Dale: That’s a nice idea. I’ll see if I can find one, or just take q quick picture (oh wait, no digital cameras here). But at least I can find a picture of one and then doctor it up with KidPix or something.
Marilyn: I usually do this with more complex processes, and for some reason I decided to just let them stay at their seats so they could feel like they were doing more than what they actually were. A mistake on my part, and I’m thinking about going back to the whole “sit on the floor, watch, then go do it” process. The problem is, I have to make sure they get back to the floor quickly enough, without me having to turn it into a game, or getting on the backs of those students who just mess around after doing what I’ve asked them to do.
Christopher: I do not envy the headache you must have had from explaining about the ampersand for the 50th time. At least the kids were exposed to something they wouldn’t have been otherwise 🙂
When you’ve used different apps with kids, did you have them create individual accounts themselves or how did you do it? I’d love to start using this stuff, but I’m not sure the best way about creating the accounts – or do I even have to?
Yes, following directions is the hardest job of all.. Thanks for helping me understand that it isn’t just MY kids!
I also have them watch a demo from on the floor in front..(a few who couldn’t see otherwise).. the rest are at their computers which is a problem because some are doing instead of listening and watching. I am fortunate that I have a great program (Synchroneyes)where I can block their computers from working, until I’m ready to release them.. but if I use it, I can’t demonstrate with mine!
I agree with Marilyn: Turkey + time = memory loss!
We were working on Double Clicking today!!
I never teach the right click unless the participants are pretty proficient. I prefer to always use the menus. It’s easier for students to find the option that they want to use then to remember the difference between left clicking and right clicking. I find that as soon as you introduce the right click, every time you ask a user to click on something they will ask if you mean left click or right click. 🙂 I’m always surprised how many people don’t even realize that their mouse has a right click button.
I know the age group is a little different….I’m at a middle school…..this might/might not work for 3rd grade, but I would think for 5 and 6 it would.
My class had a lot of projects. Often there was a point where it was open and variable, but usually at the beginning, it was quite structured…..say you want students to create a website with 5 or 6 pages, they need a folder. Everything needs to be IN the folder, and the folder needs to be named a certain way if you have over a hundred kids come and go each day.
I took an older desktop and made a little webserver, typed out all my instructions in Word, saved it as a web page, and began having students work off of the web server instead of my sheet of paper. As I got repetitive questions, I added the solutions into the directions. Gradually, I covered all the little nuances to where if a child followed the steps…..it came out right. I would look at what the issue was, and point them to the step they bungled (as an aside, I find that kids often like to start at something other than step 1….and in tech issues, that can be a problem).
Eventually it became part of the regimen that you started at step one and worked your way down. More kids became self reliant on detail stuff. I spent a lot less time dealing with renaming folders and more time talking about more general issues and quality type stuff.
I had the distinct advantage in that these projects filled my day…..I know it’s a different bag of worms for a regular elementary teacher, but…..once this thing is up on your server, it’s ready for next year. It’s ready for other classes. If you add a couple every year….things just get better, and the students get trained into a technique that will serve them well later. MOST directions are like this…carefully worded and precise….must be followed in order to get the desired result.
I’m amazed at the various levels of technology integration out there. My school is just introducing the teachers to United Streaming. Sadly, only four of us showed up to the training session. I look forward to reading your ideas. Thank you for working so hard for our kids!
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