Do you remember the days when a research assignment meant card catalogs, dusty volumes, hours of note-taking, handwritten reports, and hand-drawn posters? Thanks to your generous support, your children use state-of-the-art technology to accomplish far more impressive results than those of yesteryear.
Recently, all SCPS fourth grade students employed the use of the SMART Board to teach their classmates about a country whose national language is Spanish. The assignment began in my Spanish class with an Internet geography game on the SMART Board, a brainstorming session focusing on the unique characteristics of countries, a visit to a college WebQuest, and an explanation of the challenge. Each student was asked to learn about the assigned country in order to gain the interest of their peers when the student became the teacher.
Mrs. Tootle then followed up with a lesson on the “Big 6 Research” steps during the Media resource time. She taught the students how to use the computerized card catalog, encyclopedias in book form as well as Encarta on the desktop computer, and friendly websites linked to the Media Center’s webpage without neglecting the tried and true methods like the use of reference books.
In the computer lab, Mrs. Briotta guided the students in creating Power Point slides. She helped students individualize their slides by choosing backgrounds, fonts, photographs, and appropriate Internet links to further resources such as national anthems. She shared the need for proper documentation and then students synthesized information into paragraph or bullet form.
Finally, the students returned to Spanish to demonstrate their success via individual lessons on the SMART Board. Each fourth grader taught about the country they studied.
Due to their enthusiasm, everyone got to enjoy “extras” – tasty treats from indigenous recipes, letters of correspondence in Spanish (I helped translate the letters) with children from the “Spanish” country, and artifacts they had collected and passed around for everyone to examine.
As with assignments from the 20th century, each student learned a great deal and completed an excellent mini lesson. Obviously though, many technological concepts were mastered in the process. In addition, I often heard the delightful comment, “This was fun, Mrs. Van! When are we going to do it again?” Thank you for helping SCPS teachers use technology to connect the old world to the new generations, Y and Z. Just imagine how they will teach our grandchildren!
Published in The Raider, Winter 2009, p. 4.