At our school, the grade 1 students recently wrapped up a unit on geography with the central idea “There are many way to find out where we are in the world”. Since it was quite a content heavy unit and loads of facts to be percolated into our 6 year olds, we decided to pitch in lots of tech resources. This blog post talks about how we used technology in its various forms during the course of the six week unit.
To know the similarities and differences between the host country and another one, we tried to get in touch with educators in different parts of the world. Unfortunately, due to time differences, we weren’t able to find an appropriate session. As luck would have it, our Principal was visiting Australia at the same time and our former Principal has now moved to Dubai. So, we used these precious human resources to have two separate Skype sessions where the students questioned them about how India and Dubai or Australia were are similar and different. They collected loads of information from these two experiences and were clearly able to pick the connections between the two countries.
As they were also learning directions, command programming on code.org integrated seamlessly into this unit. The students got a flavour of how to follow as well as give the right instructions in order to reach a goal. They picked up relevant vocabulary while making the angry bird reach the bad piggies!
Internet research is vital to learn and is also one of our major tech skills. While students start independent research much later, there are a number of age appropriate websites which can be used to introduced the concept of research and record to the younger ones. We made them use PebbleGo to read about maps and globes and then compare and contrast the two. Since this tool also has an option of choosing a narrative voice-over, it could also be used for early readers who needed assistance. This also aids in building listening skills.
Who doesn’t love an energy-packed Kahoot? I certainly do, and so did our six year olds. The class was abuzz with a frenzy of excitement at every question, when they kept waiting for who’s on the top five. We showed them some visual clues to identify the name of the country. This was their first taste of an online assessment which didn’t seem like an assessment at all.
Towards the end of the unit, students were quite proficient in giving instructions. So, they were all given a picture of a treasure map which was inserted on the Write About This app. They all wrote steps to reach the treasure from start to finish. This task not only helped in reinforcing their knowledge of maps and directions, but was also served as a push towards typing accurately. The highest point of this engagement was most of the kids coming up to us and saying, “I’ve given them all the instructions, still why are the pirates not moving towards the treasure?”. These questions delighted us as they proved that these are young students well aware of how command programming works.
As I conclude writing this, I can’t be academically honest enough without mentioning a number of people who’ve put their heads and hearts together in planning and execution of all these wonderful engagements – our PYP Coordinator Ms.Vandana Parasher, the Grade 1 coordinator Ms.Sandeep Kaur, our Early Learners’ ICT teacher Ms Hitasha Sharma and all other teachers from Grade 1. This has been a fruit of true collaboration.