What a privilege to be in a session with Kathy Cassidy, Amanda Marrinan and Maria Knee. I have read their blogs and seen videos of their work with their students. It is obvious that they make learning engaging and enjoyable.
Kathy Cassidy explained how much better learning was when it came from other children. Connecting to each other - Amanda Marrinan- heard about Maria Knee's students going to tap the maple trees. Maria's Knee's students made a voicethread to explain the process which they shared. It was magical. Maria - it's all magic to 5 year olds. She uses technology because it's there - just learning where Brisbane Australia is or Moose Jaw Saskatchewan is - now they go to Google Earth and can explore everywhere - what is the same and what is different. Could not have done that without the tools. They have Google Earth up as part of the project time.
What are the challenges?
Amanda - the children are too young - no - it actually inspires them to want to read and write. Odeo - helped them read what was on. Parents help and learn with the students. When wireless was weak - Skype - around the world - it was a different kind of connectivity.
Maria - safety - she doesn't use names or pictures and names together. She educates the parents - get permission, makes sure the parents know what she is going to do and teaches students how to stay safe.Tells parents that they will have a window into the classroom any time they want.
All agreed that all comments have to be moderated. Cathy spoke of how occasionally inappropriate comments come from students - it became an opportunity (without naming names) to discuss the appropriateness of comments. Everything is a learning experience for the students.
All three teachers spoke of the ways they have their students record their learning, through photos, videos, podcasts which get posted on their blogs. They can revisit and use these for reinforcement and sharing with their families.
Nice to see how primary teachers help students make technology part of their learning environment in powerful ways, to learn, to share, to reflect, to discover and, especially, to communicate.