By Miriam Myers , GreatSchools Staff
Your first-grader may use technology to complete activities in a range of subject areas, including language arts, science, social studies, math, and art. Integrating technology into the classroom with any of these subjects is a great way to tackle the first step in technological literacy: Using tools to solve problems.
Technology resources range from computers, software programs, and the Internet to digital cameras, camcorders, and voice recorders. Technology isn't a teaching substitute, but a valuable aid that introduces children to new ways of thinking and working. Plus, it's a great introduction to resources that your child's likely to use in the future.
Gayle Berthiaume, our award-winning education consultant notes that some projects integrate more than one subject and technology: "Students may write poems and stories, illustrate them with Kid Pix or digital photos, and use GarageBand to record their poems, add music or a beat, and publish it as a podcast to allow parents and others to listen to it."
Technology use varies from school to school
Many states base their technology standards on the National Educational Technology Standards for Students. But because children aren't tested on their use of technology, teachers are typically not held accountable to teach them. That means technology use varies widely from classroom to classroom. Your first-grader may have one or more computer workstations in the classroom, go to a computer lab once a week, or not use technology regularly at all.
To get the maximum benefit from technology, the best classrooms implement technology into regular lessons that develop students' higher order thinking skills, promote creativity, and facilitate academic learning. Your child's teacher may use technology to evaluate students' progress.
"Parents can use technology at home to reinforce the skills taught in school," Berthiaume says. "There are several software programs available that help children practice reading and math skills. Or you can use AppleWorks to create stories on the computer. Children learn to read better by writing."
First-graders work in word-processing programs to practice writing, editing, design, and keyboarding skills. Your child may type words that rhyme; write a thank-you letter and add an image; or type words, changing the font, color, and size of the text. After reading stories by an author, a class may visit the author's website, and send an email to ask a question about the book. Your child may also learn to use an online dictionary. He may also keep a dictionary of words that he can read and spell in a word document.
First-graders may learn the proper terminology to communicate about technology, such as the parts of a computer system and software terms such as menu, file, save, and quit. Your child may make labels for the different parts of the computer, such as the monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer, and speakers. If these lessons are integrated with the traditional subjects of reading, writing, math, social studies, science, and art, your child will learn how technology can help him find out what he wants to know and communicate his thoughts.
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