Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Direct Teaching of Technology Skills and Vocabulary

Teaching Technology Skills
I think sometimes it easy to use technology to teach but sometimes teachers forget to teach specific technology skills. Spending time upfront teaching specific technology skills is important and it is often overlooked or rushed. Sometimes, I find teachers come up with a wonderful activity to do with Google Docs or Web 2.0 skills but end up frustrated because they are trying to teach subject area skills AND technology skills at the same time.

Last week I was in a grade two class demo-teaching an introduction to netbooks lesson. I chose a simple activity, going onto Spelling City, as the platform for teaching the basic technology skills to use netbooks. I purposely used technology vocabulary. As a technology lead teacher, I come by this “naturally” but it may not be something that all people consider. We know that using precise vocabulary is important in science, social studies and mathematics; technology is no different.

Teach Kids to Speak Geek
Thinking about this topic led me to read a post on Elementary Tech Teachers,  A Place for Elementary Tech Teachers to Share where a teacher said: “I love vocabulary because it makes believers of students. They’re excited when they ‘speak geek’ so I spend time every year on it. I have 3 lists for each grade - one for each trimester - and a list for a presentation activity I used called Speak Like A Geek (each student picks a word and teaches it to the class).”  She said that she does this with grades 3 to 5 and each presentation takes about three minutes.

Kindergarten and Grade One
On the same Ning, I read what a kindergarten teacher does to introduce technology vocabulary.  She said: “To help learn the parts of the computer I sing a song to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus”.  --- The buttons on the mouse go click click click, click click click, click click click... the buttons on the mouse go click click click in the computer lab. On the monitor we see our work... The CPU it thinks thinks thinks... With the headphones we hear it talk, hear it talk, hear it talk... on the keyboard we type gently, type gently, type gently.”

Grade Two
I think it is important that teachers use the right word and encourage students to use the correct vocabulary and to have a basic understanding of the components of technology used in the classroom. Depending on the number of ELL students in the class, you may want to do more formal lessons. Including words that are new for the majority of the class as spelling or challenge words may be worthwhile.

Grade Three
The technology vocabulary, if built up in K-2, is more integrated in grade 3 and requires less direct teaching.  When using new tools, such as Web 2.0 tools, new vocabulary will pop up that may be specific to that tool and will need to be taught directly.

Resources I Came Across
Mouse Skills and Vocabulary Activities
ABCya! ABC & 123 Magnets - this would be good to use to teach mouse skills and related vocabulary of click, drag and drop.

Keyboarding Skills and Vocabulary Activities
ABCya!Keyboard Zoo -  Recommended for Grades: K, 1
ABCya! Keyboard Challenge - put a keyboard back together; Recommended for Grades 2,3
Keyboarding Skills from ELearning for Kids - This is a game that has activities for teaching the components of the computer, mouse skills as well as keyboarding skills. Recommended for Grades: 2,3,4,5, 6

General Technology Vocabulary Skills and Activities
Technology Vocabulary Slider Puzzle - Recommended for Grades: 3,4,5, 6
Wordia - help students learn subject vocabulary through free learning games and video
Elementary Tech Teachers - A place for elementary tech teachers to share

Click-N-Learn by Kids Online - Learn the parts of the computer; Recommended for Grades: 3,4,5, 6