Posts Tagged ‘students’

YOU are your child’s best teacher.

March 9, 2008
  Question posted in recent forum I frequent:

Child Reading SaundraG flickrI heard that up until about 20 years ago, you could buy from the Broerderbond in South Africa a child development pack for the first 6 years of you’re child’s life so that they can read, write a bit, etc… by the time they go to school (as well as exposing other parts of the brain to development).

Does anyone know if there is anything good around like that today? I suppose there may be more than one company competing with that sort of thing. Does anyone know who the market leader is?

 
My response:

Do you really think sitting your child in front of a computer is the best way to go? I teach kindergarten and my experience has been that children gravitate to reading and writing when they are developmentally ready. This happens between 4-7 years of age. My own children love to read. (They are older teens.) I attribute this in part to my good friend Pam who insisted I start reading to my kids from the day they were born. I took her advice and my children began to associate reading and listening with the pleasure of bonding with their parents and caregivers.

I read to my children until they were 12 and they no longer had time. We all missed the togetherness. Visits to the library and bookstore were frequent. Gifts of books were common and interest in books praised. And yes, they also read independently! The read aloud experience is invaluable. If there had been http://www.starfall.com when my children were small I would have exposed them to it, but never require them to do it.

My kindergarten students enjoy the program and the students who entered as readers tell me they learned to read from http://www.starfall.com which is a free phonics based reading program. I also know from meeting their parents that education is an intrinsic family value and they have exposed their children to countless classics in children’s literature. I can guarantee for FREE that if you take the time to read to your child and elicit their responses to reading by asking them to predict, identify common words and engage them in the illustrations they will love to read and learn to read more easily and more naturally from intrinsic motivation.

You are your child’s best teacher. aunty raffi by kim hotep flickrModel enthusiasm for reading and the power of the written word. Don’t completely outsource this very important role in the early years. By the way, I am very high tech in the classroom and do lots of great things with my students using technology to extend literacy skills so I am not opposed to a little software extension or intervention.

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The Problem with Overexposure

February 28, 2008

The problem with exposure is overexposure. How can teachers create safe spaces for children? For that matter how can parents? The internet is a Pandora’s Box, alluring, mysterious and enlightening. Is the incidence of occasionally unfiltered audio of video a threat to internet use in elementary schools? angelDo the benefits of internet use outweigh the pitfalls? Several posts ago I commented on the surprising use of youtube by young students. I didn’t teach them about it nor have I even even mentioned it because I don’t feel it is a safe place for unaccompanied minors. Our county has excellent filters and they certainly seems to be 99% effective in eliminating unwanted material but the filters can fail and students can run the risk of overexposure. Take Google images, regardless of the setting an search on any term may result in image overexposure! It happened to me one time when I was searching for computers. Mixed among the computers was a random photo labeled computer but without any computer in view.

Media Specialists have grappled with questionable content since the dawn of libraries. Parents dissaporve of some books for religious, political or content about the human anatomy. Some illustrations or photographs may depict strong sequences of violence. I have been on the critical end of this debate when my own children were in elementary school. In fact a middle school teacher showed the class an R-rated movie without parent consent. It was Schindler’s List. My daughter loved her teacher. I felt the woman had exercised poor judgment. I emailed the principal and let her know that perhaps the teacher was not aware of the rules concerning movies. She thanked me and handled it discreetly. No one lost their job. In fact it was a teachable moment for me and my daughter.

I recently encountered some unanticipated pitfalls using audio on the web. Think about still images, screening them is relatively simple procedure. You can see with your own eyes in short order and assess the content. With video alone, you could fast forward and scan the scenes. A different kind of problem arises when using audio. How can you and I be sure the audio content is safe without listening to every word, every second? What kind of warning do you have before it’s too late to stop the sound? What if the unexpected happens? How do you recover? What do you tell the students? I have been asking these questions of my peers and the most frequent answer is to fudge the offending word or phrase and change thlisten and learne meaning, if possible to placate any innocent listeners, but what if that isn’t possible? How can we trust the content even when it comes from a reputable source? Is what we hear online as damaging as what we hear in person? These are the questions creating cob webs in my head. Teachers have to protect their students. I think we have to consider these questions seriously. The advent of phone comments on blogs and VoiceThreads and even audio comments on websites or podcasts raise the chances that some unfiltered audio will reach the ears of innocents. Are there any guarantees save removing internet access? Let me know if you have any answers. I’m all ears!

High Tech Parenting

October 3, 2007

To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself once in a while.  ~Josh Billings

I have been trying to foster communication skills in my kindergarten students by creating a forum for their ideas and for their work. Recently I posted three new podcast episodes on small voices. We work a lot on sequencing in Kindergarten so I decided to incorporate cooking into our Language Arts curriculum. The next day students told me they had watched the videos at home because their parents already knew about them! I received several emails including one from a mom who had shared the video with the grandmother in India. Her daughter was just beaming with satisfaction the next day. This is exactly the kind of validation I want for all of my students. I want them to reach all of the people they love.

Today I demonstrated how to transfer typed text from the Alphasmart Neo to the computer. I asked students to select a sentence or two to type from their journals then I posted several of their entries as individual blog posts to show the class. Later when a parent volunteer arrived to help with Math I pulled her aside to explain where to find the student blog and how to comment on the sentence her daughter had posted. Mom was thrilled. “My child is blogging…in kindergarten.”I suggested she post a comment. I had two comment alerts in my email tonight. The mom posted a one and so did the grandmother in Tennessee! Tomorrow their child will be reading the post, sharing the comments, and modeling this new form of dialog over the net. I think other students will be clamoring for the opportunity to post. How often? My plan is to schedule one day a week on the Neos. They will be able to select a journal entry or create a post from scratch.

I am singing the praises of High Tech Parents and those who want to travel the way their child should go. Even today, some parents haven’t ventured beyond email and the occasional youtube video (send via email). I love it when they ask me for help. I will be showing a parent how to get the podcasts on an iPod. Sometimes I let the students lead the way. Communicating isn’t a passing fad nor is it a static activity. Using the net to communicate provides a firm foundation for global citizens. Students come to understand the value of their words. Small voices are so precious.