As an elementary ICT teacher, I am always looking for opportunities for how I can introduce worthwhile EdTech tools to my students which they can use to carry their classroom learning forward. At our school, we voraciously search for tools which will help the students in various ways, and which will keep learning fun for them.
When ICT teachers introduce new tools in our classroom, it is important to show the full range of features it has to offer and how to use it for a task assigned to them by their homeroom teachers (form tutors).
We are there to guide them when using the tool. But that doesn’t necessarily instil independence. The tasks are dependent on time and students have deadlines to meet. So logistically, they may not be able to completely explore the tool by themselves in all our lessons.
This got me thinking as to how I can make my students more independent users of technology. That’s when I thought of the idea of Tool of the Month.
We started this concept at the beginning of 2017, right after the students returned from their Christmas break. Years 4 & 5, who had Office 365 given by the School, received a surprise by email! It read that from the new year we would start with a monthly competition in which a tech tool will be announced every month with a task and a small set of precise instructions as to how to get started with it. This got many of the students fired up and excited. They started exploring the tool for that month and many of them started walking into our room to inquire about it or ask for some help.
When other students heard about this, they also started logging into their email, even those who rarely did so.
The first two weeks were quite slow and we initially did not receive any submissions. But gradually the emails started coming in. The students started using the tool and quite a number of them worked on the task for that month. This also helped them to develop the invaluable skill of reading and following instructions (How many of us adults read manuals?).
Then came the high point: the day when the students received their ‘Tech Whiz of the Month’ certificates during primary school assembly and their work was displayed along the school walkways. This encouraged a great many more students to take part in the following months. The full circle of exploration, getting it done, small conversations over breaks, submitting on time and finally the celebration makes this journey quite satisfying as a tech teacher. The best part is that this journey unfolds every single month.
I won’t say that all the children are interested in trying the tool of the month or working on the task assigned, but it has certainly raised the profile of technology within the school and improved enthusiasm for the subject. I enjoy seeing all the effort and the buzz around technology, which this small initiative has created amongst the fourth and fifth graders of my school.
How do you inculcate independent exploration in technology in your school? Ideas for our future Tool of the Month are also more than welcome!
Sana Noor @sansanananana is a Primary ICT Coordinator in Delhi, India. View her blog at techatpathways.wordpress.com