A little background: The school I am working in is on the island of Dominica. It is a developing country, but the school does have internet access and several desktop computers for student use.
What made the assignment of using an internet resource or web2.0 resource in class difficult was not the fact that I’m in Dominica, but rather that I would be working with a class of kindergarteners and junior-kindergarteners.
At 4 and 5 years old, are students ready for web interaction? Yes and no. Amazingly, these students know how to use a mouse, a keyboard, and basic computer navigation. The 4 year olds (who aren’t reading yet) still need help with entering web addresses but the 5 year olds have learned how to find Starfall all on their own.
To speed things along, while the little ones were at recess I went ahead and opened a browser with the 2 webpages we would be using that day. When the students came in, I took a few minutes and gave them a preview of what we would be doing before sending them over to the computers. The students understood that they would first be coloring the X-ray, then coloring the xylophone, and finally interacting with the Starfall Letter X lesson.
Can you tell what we learned in language arts that day? That’s right! The letter X.
The two coloring pages went over really well with the kindergarteners. For most of the students at this age having the motor dexterity to move a mouse and click in the small spaces is a skill all of it’s own.
With kindergarteners, web2.0 is possible, but much harder to implement. What is tricky about using web2.0 with younger students is that most of them are just learning to read and write, so posting to the Read and Write Web is a stretch. Ideas for web2.0 integration that I have for this age group include: blogging (one sentence at a time) and using Wordle to have students create a graphic of site words they know.
After they were finished coloring, the students clicked on the Starfall tab and went through the “X” lesson. Having used Starfall before, the students were familiar with where and when to click to keep the flash movie progressing.
What I like about Starfall is the use of repetition, video, and audio to keep the students interested while learning. For example, every time a student clicks on the letter X a “kss” sound is played.
Even children with autism, like the boy above, can successfully interact with this excellent online resource. Starfall is his favorite website, and it has helped him immensely with learning his letters, colors, and sounds.
After completing the 3 assignments, at their own pace, the students were allowed to play any Starfall “game” they wanted. They all successfully navigated to another game they enjoyed.
The lesson I learned from the day is that Kindergarteners are absolutely old enough to use interactive websites. Even those who cannot read are able to navigate and play learning games online. Does anyone else have any tales of Kindergarten technology integration?