After almost a year of planning, the Stratford Afterschool Technology program came to fruition today!
Not knowing what to expect, it was a bit overwhelming for me to have 15 kids sitting in front of me waiting to hear what to do. I started with setting them up with gmail addresses because a lot of the curriculum I have planned is through google and the beauty of this lies in the fact that the kids can access their gmail accounts as well as other google tools, from anywhere.
Luckily Stratford Elementary’s principal, Derek McEwen, was in our class to help. His daughter wanted to attend so he was able to assist in getting all the kids set-up. It was interesting to see when one student had got set up with his gmail and then started poking around his account and found out, by himself, how to change the settings to have a fun background for his account. He then proceeded to show others in the class how to do this, effectively teaching other students how to do the same.
This process I had heard about through my brother, a vice-principal at an international school in Shanghai, as well from an esteemed educator named Sugatra Mitra in a Ted talk which you can view here. I’m hoping this will continue to happen.
Next, I showed them how to develop a form where they could ask a question and then send the link to their friends and family to fill out. I had discovered this google feature recently and used it as a registration form for the class. They listened and watched how I did it and then ran to their computers to start. By the end of the class the majority of them had successfully completed the task.
So, although it was a bit frantic and chaotic (to me), the kids seemed to really enjoy it and my inbox was flooded with test emails from the students, ages 8 – 11, including one saying “hi i am having a lot of fun i can not wait until next monday” which was very rewarding for me. All the kids seemed pretty excited at the end of it and I was encouraged that their parent’s are getting their money’s worth, having enrolled their kids in a program where they will be learning tangible skills using educational technology.
One thing I noted was that the kids who had trouble spelling were the ones who required more assistance and that really brought home the accuracy of a colleague’s, Lori Mayne, recent blog post (http://lorimayne.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/hello-world/) regarding the relevance of student’s literacy skills required for the use of educational technology. I will endeavor to incorporate the importance of this into the curriculum.
Lastly, to be totally honest, I was completely exhausted after 2 hours. I am in awe of what teachers do.