So often, teachers of grade one students hesitate to have their students use technology. After all, they reason (with perfect truth), my kids can’t find the letters on the keyboard and they can’t spell their names, much less use a password.
However, many of our students are now coming to us with an innate understanding of technology. They are familiar with (or have used) smartphones, tablets, gaming systems, and computers. Those who have not had the means or opportunity to use technology in their homes are disadvantaged, and so need even more to be introduced to technology to create some equity between the haves and have nots.
Younger students CAN use technology...and it’s easier than you think!
Enter Chromebooks: cheap, efficient and, after some initial set up, easy for younger students to use.
- The district gives students these lovely passwords like baxdr24, difficult for adults to remember, nevermind students. Have your students think of simple, spellable words or phrases. My favourite is to pair their favourite colour with a simple animal and include a pair of numbers (such as your room number), remembering to ensure that you have eight characters: bluedog23, redcat23, yellowbird23. This allows for innumerable password combinations.
- For younger students, the teacher can change their passwords by logging into Schoolzone as that student. Grade three students can usually change their own.
- Click on ‘Add User’ and then enter the student’s @share.epsb.ca address and new password.
- The buddy can then help the student take their picture for the login screen.
- Open Chrome and click on the three bars in the top right-hand side of the screen, scroll down to Settings and click ‘Always show Bookmarks Bar’.
- Have the buddies enter any website you wish your students to access regularly, and drag them to the bookmarks bar.
Record the number of the Chromebook each student is on. Now that you have set up the Chromebooks, it becomes much easier for students to log in. The opening log in screen shows the profile pictures of the last 18 students to log into that Chromebook. Students now need to only look for their picture and type in their password. In order to facilitate this, have your students assigned to certain Chromebooks, so they always get the same one.
Give students a way to manage their passwords themselves.
Part Two: Symbaloo!
What if you have many more sites for your students that will fit on the Bookmarks Bar? Enter Symbaloo, a bookmarking site that seems designed for younger students. It is designed so that all the bookmarks are on coloured tiles that carry the name and symbol of websites, making it easier for students to find the site needed. Sites can be placed on different coloured tiles. The screenshot below shows a Symbaloo with Language Arts sites on orange tiles and Math sites on green. Now, students need only remember one site address, or have only one site listed on their Bookmarks Bar.
Symbaloo is an easy site to use, and FREE! You can search for Symbaloos that have already been created by grade level or subject and use those, or create your own.
See this tutorial on how to set Symbaloo up and enjoy! It is easier than you think!!! Let us know how you have used Symbaloo or Chromebooks in your class!