our Kidblog account. Another went to the desktop to finish a post she had been working on the day before. Still another grabbed yesterday's books to begin to enter titles into our community Shelfari account. Some friends remained at tables reading books from baskets.
Years ago, I remember "planning technology," but now it is just something that has become a part of the literacy work we do across our day. It's been a journey and there is still much to learn. I'm often asked how did we get to the place where students just know what they need and use the technology as they work. I'm honestly not sure, and know it varies from year to year with different groups, but here are a few key elements to infusing technology into the literacy learning we do each day:
Staying Focused on Literacy: In our workshops students choose to do the work of literacy learners. They set literacy goals and consider the focus lesson in making choices across workshops. They work to make meaning and share new understandings with others.
Ownership: Students ultimately own the work. They have time to pursue interests, develop new understandings, and make choices about their reading and writing. They choose their books, topics for writing, and ways to share their thinking with others.
Availability: Consistent access is needed for students to get in the routine of reading, writing, and responding in their literacy block using technology. Students know they can use technology after finishing their morning message, in reader's workshop for reading and response work, and in writer's workshop to create and/or publish their writing for a wider audience.
Power Applications: With young learners I try to choose 3-5 applications we will learn to use well in our year together. Though we are not limited to these applications, having a core collection helps us to work independently. I try to find applications that allow us to do a lot of different things within them. In our classroom we utilize applications that allow students to create. I look for applications that allow students to draw, type, insert images, and record voice. Our go-to apps this year have been EduCreations, Pixie, Photo Booth, and Kidblog. (We typically save work into Evernote, Google Drive, or DropBox.)
Gradual Release of Control: As with anything we teach, students benefit from modeling, shared experiences, guided practice, and independent opportunities to try new learning. For example, we begin our year with shared blogging, and studying mentors, as we work together to create posts for our readers about learning taking place in our classroom. Then gradually students move toward independent practice and begin to utilize their personal blogging space for a variety of purposes.
Exploration: Early in learning our "power applications" students have time to explore. We usually begin using new applications together to create and share with others. Most often we follow that with opportunities for students to try it and some time to just explore. Students need time to try new things and not everything they create will be amazing, but everything will be something we can learn or build from in our next steps.
A Home Base: We use Weebly for our learning community. Through our Weebly site, Merely Learning Together, parents and students can access much of the work we do, websites we use, and other learning links from school or home.
Techsperts: Each year I have students who rise to leading our use of technology. The students in my classroom know who is savvy with particular applications, tasks such as saving, or general troubleshooting. They often rely on these peers as I work with small groups and confer with individuals across workshops.
Time: When using technology to read, write reading responses, create digital stories, and collaborate with others, students need time to work.
Trust: In our classroom we talk a lot about possibilities for using tools to share our thinking. We talk a lot about digital citizenship and our responsibilities with others in our learning community. I've learned to trust them to make smart choices, to problem solve, and to try new ideas. Most often, the students take our community places I never thought we'd go.
What is essential for infusing technology across your day?