AT&T Classroom

I was pleasantly surprised when I was introduced to the AT&T Classroom.  I have never been exposed to so much technology in a classroom, let alone expected to learn how to utilize different types of technologies from first graders!

Before the kids arrived, I was not sure if I was going to be able to enter the classroom and get hands-on experience with the students and their devices.  I figured I was going to sit behind the one-way mirror during their class and take notes while Annette filled me in on what was going on. I was expecting the students to be fairly novice when it came to utilizing the iPads and laptops. I was also expecting them to get very distracted and off topic while handling these technologies.

When I arrived at the AT&T Classroom, I was greeted by Annette and Tom.  After talking with them for a few minutes, the students started to arrive and get settled.  I was very amazed with the students’ abilities and familiarity with their devices.  They introduced me to multiple educational, interactive apps, including Popplet and  TinyTap.

Popplet is a free, digital web-organizer that helps students create a diagram for a specific topic.  The first grade class in the AT&T Classroom was learning about polar bears, and created a web including different facts about polar bears.  The sub-topics were color coordinated, and included three facts branching off of them.  This is a great app that will aid young students in writing research papers and organizing ideas.

The other app I was introduced to was TinyTap.  TinyTap allows students to create their own games, and is a more personalized approach to education.  Students are able to create, play with, and learn from various tools TinyTap has to offer such as: games, puzzles, E-books, quizzes, digital textbooks, and more!  Students are also able to incorporate their own pictures in the games they create.  For example, the second grade class who visited the AT&T Classroom last semester went around Kent State’s campus and took pictures of living and nonliving things, while fourth graders took pictures of different angles and shapes.  These students were able to make games from their pictures that are shared all around the world through TinyTap!  TinyTap is not just for students, however.  Parents, teachers, authors, organizations and brands also use it too!  This is a great app that I can see myself using in my classroom.

Although the students were a little distracted when they shifted from different mediums of technology, their attentiveness inside of the classroom was excellent.  I was fortunate enough to get hands-on experience, and help struggling students with difficult concepts.

Overall, the AT&T Classroom, allowed me to work one-on-one with students, while also providing many different ideas and lessons that I can employ in my future classroom.

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Enhancing Learning Through Multimedia

Multimedia is a very beneficial tool for teachers to utilize inside the classroom.  There are many different types; and each one comes with numerous benefits. Various modes of multimedia range from educational videos to animated applications.

Multimedia offers students the opportunity to excel in the following areas: School readiness, grades and performance, collaborative abilities, communication, and professional development.  These competencies build the foundation of students’ educational experience, as well as preparing them for their professional careers.

An example of a video form of multimedia is Khan Academy. Khan Academy offers free personalized, instructional videos, allowing students to practice exercises so they can learn and study at their own pace outside of the classroom.  This website provides assistance in multiple subject areas, such as: math, science, history, art history, and economics.  Khan Academy is a fantastic educational tool that presents students with multiple ways to diversify their knowledge.

Another example of a more animated form of multimedia, which appeals to elementary students, is called Bookabi.  With Bookabi, children have everything they need to tell their stories: 2D and 3D characters, extravagant backgrounds, and fun objects and stickers that children can place, resize, or rotate with the swipe of a finger.  Bookabi allows children to add speech bubbles, text, front cover design, and use their own personal photos as backgrounds!  With bookabi, children are able to bring their wildest imaginations to life.

Mulitmedia comes in many different forms and is used for a variety of purposes.  It is a great interactive tool that I plan on implementing in my future classroom to make learning effortless and enjoyable for my students.

Software & Apps & Games… Oh My!

Educational software, apps, and games–much like other technologies applied in classrooms–have great potential to promote student learning.  These tools broaden students’ knowledge in several subject areas.  Generally speaking, software lays the foundation for the apps and games.  Countless categories of educational software–such as Skills-based Learning, Productivity, Visual Thinking and Concept Mapping, and Simulations and Virtual Reality–perform different functions, and stimulate different styles of learning in the classroom.  Depending on the type of software, apps and games are purposefully incorporated into lessons as “enhancers” and, of course, to keep the students engaged without getting bored.  Numerous different types of software, apps, and games are used in conjunction with each other to foster an efficient learning environment for students.

Unlike traditional teaching methods, academic software, apps, and games promote individualized learning by encouraging students to learn at their own pace, without feeling subordinate to their peers.  These technologies also diversify the ways in which students learn the material.  For example, some students may find it beneficial to learn math by playing games online, using sites such as Weebly, or Mr. Nussbaum, while others prefer to use apps on devices that accommodate them, such as Visnos.  These specialized, digital tools are highly accessible, and allow students to master the specified subject areas taught during class-time both inside and outside of the classroom.

As a future elementary educator, I believe incorporating technologies, such as games and apps, is extremely advantageous to young children learning an assortment of different subjects.  Before the students start diving into these new technologies, they must first learn how to properly utilize these tools.  Elementary students, especially in the lower grade levels, are notorious for this behavior.  A recurring theme in my last couple blogs—Digital Citizenship—is highly important for students of this age, and it cannot be stressed enough.  These kids are so young and inexperienced with these new forms of technologies, that the likelihood of their security being breached is very high.  Prior to students adopting these technologies inside the classroom, they must learn both how to correctly use them, without abusing the privilege.

Once students develop a sense of familiarity with these technologies, it’s time to play!  After learning about different kinds of software, apps, and games, I have a better sense of which will be the most constructive to exercise in the classroom.  Presumably, elementary students will not be highly accustomed to these categories of technology, so I plan on keeping them simple to navigate, while enhancing the overall lesson and helping the students to learn.  Take reading fluency and creative writing, for example: Without technology, students will most likely be assessed by reading from an informational prompt assigned by the teacher, or writing a short story using sensory words and colorful language.

Technology allows students to go “above and beyond” on assignments.  ColARmix is one of many examples (and personally, my favorite) on how students can enhance their creative writing skills.  ColARmix turns students’ coloring pages into a 3D image that performs specific tasks, depending on the picture.  Students then present their pictures with its movements in front of the class, creating a story to accompany it.

 To help students with reading fluency, I will have my students use Flocabulary, which is an interactive tool that allows students read about a specific topic–for example, the Industrial Revolution—and the app will transform their words into a Hip-Hop Remix.  This makes students learn the material while they enjoy and learn their songs.

Several forms of software, apps, and games help promote student learning in a number of ways.  Looking forward to my teaching career in the future, it is of utmost importance that the technology being incorporated into my classroom will improve the lessons as well as the students’ knowledge.  Personally, I would prefer if the digital tools I employ in the classroom are entertaining to the class.  I believe that the earlier students engage with these technologies, the sooner they will learn to love learning, and become eager to explore new concepts on their own.