I recently talked with a high school senior who wants to become an elementary teacher. “Working with younger students, one thing I won’t have to think about is technology,” she said. She certainly has some misconceptions about elementary students! I thought about her as I read this issue of Science and Children and the examples of young students using technology for many tasks and in many contexts.
Space and technology seem to go hand in hand. To the Moon and Back show how students in Grades 2 and 3 used the Starry Night resource to gather data on phases of the moon and look for patterns and develop questions. The article includes a rubric, an example of a student journal entry, and a discussion of other technology application on the topic, including iPad/iPhone apps and online simulations. [SciLinks: Moon Phases]
The authors of Caught on Video use videos to document student projects. Students were both the subjects and the videographers as they demonstrated their work. The article has suggestions for incorporating more local videos in instruction. [SciLinks: Engineering Structures]
“No child left inside” could be the subtitle for Trail Blazers. The article describes a project in which 4th-graders created field guides (on iPods) for the school’s nature trail. Starting with a site study, they also created kits for teachers to use with students to study weather on the trail. [SciLinks: Identifying Trees, Nature]
What technology (if any) is appropriate for primary students? Harness Your Tech Side includes resources from the NAEYC on technology integration in the younger grades and a lesson plan on using technology to create a class book. Smart Boards Rock has pictures of students (not the teacher) at the board, manipulating objects and words. [SciLinks: Rocks]
Virtual Inquiry Experiences incorporated technology into a study of pond insects. Students shared their specimens with scientists who shared (through videoconferencing) the use of an electron microscope—quite an experience for these young students. Another option for younger students as described in Time for Slime, is a digital microscope connected to a projector. The pictures of students show the benefits of the large projected images. The formative assessment probe Representing Microscopic Life looks at student conceptions and misconceptions about microscope pond organisms. [SciLinks: Microscopes, Insects, Protozoa]
Classroom communications is changing, too. Not an Unfeasible “Extra” shows how students in 4th grade are blogging about their science learning. The teacher-author offers suggestions for starting a blogging project and a rubric to assess the blog content. In Turtles and Technology, other 4th graders took on a challenge to protect and advocate for an endangered species. They raised turtles to release in the wild used a variety of technology (blogging, producing videos, creating webpages, and even developing an online game) to inform the community of threats to the turtles.
After reading and reflecting on these articles, future elementary teachers have a lot to look forward to, with students who are very comfortable with technology. Secondary teachers have a lot to look forward to, also, as younger students become more familiar with technology as a tool for learning, communicating, and creating.
Several other articles have SciLinks connections: One Hungry Dinosaur [SciLinks: Dinosaurs] and Simple Machines [SciLinks: Simple Machines] And check out more Connections for this issue (December 2011). Even if the article does not quite fit with your lesson agenda, there are ideas for handouts, background information sheets, data sheets, rubrics, and other resources.