Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Keep Trying; No Crying

Kindergarten in a 1:1 environment is an interesting thing. Especially at the beginning of the year when students don't know all their letters yet. For the last several days, I've been working with Mrs. Kuehnert's kindergarten class. We've been focusing on just the basics when using the iPad. These basics will provide the scaffolding the students need in order to better utilize the iPad as a learning tool in the future. The more exposure they have to troubleshooting and basic use of the iPad, the more the device can be used throughout the rest of the year.


Last year, I created a list of skills to get Kindergarten rolling for the beginning of the year. I will more than likely add to this list, but this gives an idea of where to start with them so that Kindergarten students can feel confident in their use of the iPad. The key is to break it down and go slow. It will pay off in the long run when you have a bigger project later in the year.

Today, I came up with a new phrase to share with Kindergarten students: Keep trying; No crying. Kindergarten students are notorious for emotional breakdowns when things aren't quite working the way they want them. I try to preface the lesson every time that it is just fine to make mistakes. The worst thing to do with any problem is to get upset. Believe or not, the keyboard alone can make a six-year-old lose their cool. It is something that takes work to learn to the point that they feel a sense of fluency.

10 common issues with the iPad keyboard that tend to cause Kindergarten students to breakdown:

  1. Only capital letters are on the keyboard
  2. The letters are not in ABC order
  3. Can't find the numbers
  4. Editing mistakes
  5. Finding the keyboard when it isn't on the screen
  6. The word "return" does not make sense to them
  7. The space bar does not have anything on it
  8. Auto-correct (This can be turned off in settings)
  9. Extra spaces create periods 
  10. The capitalize button is an up arrow...shouldn't that move the cursor up?
So why even bother with a keyboard? Why not just have kindergarten students use apps that require little to no input or learning games? The simple answer is that it isn't real life. The students, at an early age, need to learn to create. This allows them to problem solve and know how to accomplish a task using digital tools at an early age. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Spot the Spyware 2

Last week I had the opportunity to meet with a group of fifth graders to discuss the use of their new Lenovo Windows 8.1 PC. They are very excited about the possibilities as well as the touch enabled screen that other grades do not get to experience quite yet. We discussed the need for updates as well as the dangers of downloading.

When discussing these issues with fifth and sixth graders, I love comparing downloading as the same idea as accepting "snacks" from someone. (I can't take credit for the idea as it came from Google.) Students understand that it is important that they know where their "snacks" are coming from because it may contain something undesirable. We even discuss that sometimes "snacks" coming from safe sources (Java and Adobe) often times have extras in them that you do not want to download. So they need to be watchful with all downloads to make sure nothing else is being downloaded onto their machine. Lastly, we discuss that the real purpose of their device is to be a learning tool. It cannot be an effective learning tool if they have downloaded something on it that causes it to be ineffective.

Here is the presentation I use to have this discussion:

Downloading is serious business as it is difficult for users that are not experienced with the Internet and using a PC. Our students have become very accustomed to using iPads and Android devices where downloading is much safer as it works within the "App Store" or "Google Play Store." 

To further educate the students as to how to be more Internet savvy, I used the Kahoot.it game, Spot the Spyware, at the end of the presentation. Apparently it was a big success and Mrs. Scherer's fifth graders beg to play it constantly. So to further their knowledge of the Internet, I created a "Spot the Spyware 2" game. 

Click here to access Spot the Spyware 2