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Your fifth grader and technology

By the end of fifth grade, your child should demonstrate advanced keyboarding skills to edit her work.

By Miriam Myers , GreatSchools Staff

In a technology-rich classroom, your fifth-grader uses tools to enhance her understanding of language arts, science, social studies, math, and art. Her use of new tools to answer age-old questions is the first step to technological literacy.

Resources range from computers, software programs, and the Internet to digital cameras, camcorders, and voice recorders. Technology isn't a substitute for teaching, but a way to bring the world into the classroom. Plus, it's an essential tool for your child's future.

The Internet can connect kids to native speakers of a language they are learning or to scientists around the world. Computer-based programs can give teachers real-time feedback on how well students grasp a concept in math. But technology is no substitute for learning mathematical concepts or the basics of writing an essay.It's simply one way to enhance classroom instruction and help your child practice new skills and master new concepts.

The technology skills she learns will help your child write research papers in history and do multimedia presentations in science. She will develop critical evaluation skills by assessing the credibility of websites and learning about copyright laws and the ethics of using online information or pictures.

"Fifth-graders are very comfortable using a computer to complete learning projects," explains our teacher consultant Gayle Berthiaume.

Technology use varies from school to school

Many states base their technology standards on the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS). But because children aren't tested on their use of technology, teachers aren't typically held accountable for teaching it. That means computer use varies widely from classroom to classroom. Your fifth-grader may have one or more computer workstations in the classroom, go to a computer lab once a week, or not use technology regularly.

To get the maximum benefit from technology, the best classrooms incorporate 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.

Technology terminology

Fifth-graders build on their vocabulary to communicate about technology. Your child should be able to discuss common uses of technology in daily life and its advantages and disadvantages. He should apply strategies for identifying and solving routine hardware and software problems. Your child should be learning the names of computer parts - monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer, and speakers - and software terms - menu, file, folder, application, save, and quit.

Keyboard and mouse

Your fifth-grader continues to improve her skills in typing and using a mouse. She practices typing and increases the rate of words she types per minute. A fifth-grader should type 20 words per minute. To avoid repetitive stress injuries later on, she should learn to use the correct hand, wrist, and body positions and the proper techniques for striking the keys. By the end of the year, she should demonstrate advanced keyboarding skills such as cutting, copying, and pasting to edit her work.

Schools may use a typing program that teaches students how to type.

Word processing and email

Your child can use a word-processing program the same way a professional writer does: to prewrite, draft, revise and publish work. He may type his ideas in the first draft, then proofread and make changes. In the final stages of the writing process, your child may use word-processing software to add clip art; change the font, size, and color of the text; and learn to use spell-check. He may also add bulleted and numbered lists. He may make a class newsletter with pictures and text or write a book review.

He and his classmates are able to cut, copy, and paste text or graphics from one program to another. Students explore some of the advanced features of a word-processing program, such as using borders, shading, and page layout. He may create a book or brochure that includes columns, text boxes, and graphics. He learns how computers make it possible to work remotely.

Berthiaume explains: "Many schools share and save files over a network. Students may access their saved work from any computer in the building."

Your fifth-grader may use email to contact a peer, another class, or experts worldwide. He may email an author of a book. With programs like ePals, teachers and students can communicate with people around the world.

Comments from readers

"Excellent article.... This means my daughter will be better at using the computer, and other technical equipment than I. Wow!! Advancements in Education...."
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