Now that there are too many web 2.0 tools to teach in any one year or school, when should we introduce them to our students. Are there web 2.0 tools that will benefit our youngest students? Which web 2.0 tools are better left for later grades? When should students begin having their own blog space, google account, join or create a social network, use course management software, and/or create and document their learning in a personal digital portfolio?
Prerequisite--Basic Computing Skills
There are many questions to answer as we start exposing our students to web 2.0 tools. First we must help our students gain basic computing skills so they can advance to using web 2.0 tools. Probably the most important part of the process is letting students know that making mistakes and struggling to locate applications and folders are important steps to learning how to use computers. Navigating through computer options is a basic skill. If we help students become comfortable to learn by trial and error/exploring, there is a good chance that we will eventually remove any apprehension/fear of using computers.
Most students after their first 5-8 computer lab sessions should have mastered the skills accessing their personal server account, WP applications, internet browsers, and ability to open and save their personal documents. Beginners must spend some time working on controlling their mouse movement and clicking skills. Concise verbal directions and repeating directions several times during computer lessons will help build a common computer technology language.
Level 2 Computing Skills
Personally, I have seen our youngest students learn to use bookmarks to access the school website, various links provided on portaportal, and online learning games. Even though many of our youngest students cannot read, they can learn which words to click on by simple repetition. Students that use classroom computers learn how to access the internet very quickly. There seem to be no problem teaching students how to access their favorite game on any computer as long as there are some similarities in the operating system.
Learning the letters and gaining the skills to find all the letters (keyboarding) are necessary before we can expect students to use web 2.0 tools. These basic keyboarding skills challenge the patience of some especially our youngest students. We begin by opening a new WP document and ask students to type their name and their teacher name. Depending on ability level, last names, date and time can be part of this work. Students type their spelling words in a numbered list which many 1st graders master after just a couple times trying. Kindee teachers bring their word lists cut into strips of six to ten having students type as many different word strips as they can. Some kindees can type over 100 words in 30 minutes. Another exercise that we use is the lettered list of words. Students are asked to type a word that begins with the letter in the list. When they complete the entire alphabet, they either try to think of different words and continue or write a sentence using the "a" word, etc.
Beginning to Use Web 2.0 Tools
Once students can access the programs and the internet and have basic typing skills, I think they are ready to use Moodle, our classroom management system. I post electronic documents such as graphic organizers and simple worksheets for student to open and fill in using WP and thinking skills. We also use ThatQuiz posting assignments or even allowing students to explore and take ThatQuiz quizzes. It is amazing how some students are able to be introduced to and complete quizzes well above grade level. Teachers accompany their students and quickly learn the various ability levels in their classroom (formative assessment). Links in Moodle can go to reading comprehension sites and writing tools. Our youngest students love the Dr. Seuss reading and writing sites. Students also use my "del.icio.us" cloud on our school website to go to specific internet sites.
Now that our students can access their personal server account, navigate the operationg system, open applications, and navigate Moodle (content management system), what should we do next? Are there web 2.0 tools that we should introduce first? Introducing web 2.0 tools allow me to show my love of learning and using computers to do so. Tools such as del.icio.us are so easy that anyone can use them. Blogs and wikis can be utilized as soon as students are writing and collaborating on their writing. Introducing social networking tools seems sensible when students begin to focus on having something of their own. I have just started to look at Google accounts (home page, photo gallery, email, online apps, RSS reader, and more) and Pageflakes which has a student version of their social network sites. Flakes refer to widgets that can be added/deleted from their personal page. The student site default settings include a widgets to keep track of their grades, assignments, do it list, and much more.
Please share some of your ideas on when you introduce and/or use web 2.0 tools with your students. Students seem so excited to learn when we are excited about a tool so maybe introducing web 2.0 depends more on our excitement than the age/abilities of our students.