Monday, August 6, 2007

The Power of Buddies

We here at the Fridge are enjoying a nice, rainy Monday. Ideal? Well, since it is the first "real" day at work, it will do, in a mean-spirited sort of way. The only drawback is I forgot my lunch. I know, you'd think someone who has created a Technology Fridge would have food around. We have some snacks and I found a bagel in the lounge, but nothing like the hamburger I had planned on eating. Someone's trying to tell me I need to eat better, I guess. Luckily, my office buddies brought in some snacks today.
Speaking of buddies (a stretch transition), today I want to discuss buddy classes. Last year, my 5th graders buddied up with a Kindergarten class. Our goal was to help the younger buddy students learn their letter sounds through technology and to give them some exposure to how a computer works. At the Technology Fridge, we believe that educationally speaking, all students need to at the very least be exposed to technology through their elementary years. They don't need to be masters at the computer, but if you want them to be an asset to society, shouldn't they at the very least know how to turn it on? Whether you work at McDonald's or Microsoft, you will be exposed to technology.
We started out by creating power point slides that had each of the letters they had learned that week along with a corresponding picture. Eventually we moved ahead of what they were learning. So we used a couple of the following websites.
ABC Matching From the I Know That series of websites (which has already brought you Math Blox and Punctuation Paintball in previous posts), students get to experience letters, sounds and pictures in various activities. You can focus on specific sounds and phrases. Great for both review and introduction.
Curious George While Curious George isn't as popular as it once was, its still a monkey, which appeals to a younger audience. There isn't as much "educational" value, but it still entertains.
Starfall If you haven't heard of Starfall, you are either a new teacher or have been under a rock. One of the best websites ever for young kids, we used all aspects of it for our Kindergarten students.
Learning Planet The Learning Planet website is another great all around resource for all levels and most subjects. For buddy work, there are some very basic letter introduction activities for students.
With our buddies, I did my best to have the younger students run the computer and the older students only to guide. It was not easy with 5th graders who want to show what they can do. The other big problem is saving the power points. I need to do a better job of instructing my students on how to save all documents. We also used an online storage area (because it was "cooler" than using the server...although the server is the better option), which got filled up pretty quick with pictures and text. All in all, it was a great program that proved beneficial.

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