Keeping up with technology is important to me and I want my children to keep up (to some degree) with the every changing technology scene. So over the last study block we have done a unit which I called “Communicating with Technology” but it would have been more appropriately titled: Communicating Visually with Technology. So much of our communication these days is done with online media, and it is visual. Our family has focused on reading/writing/speaking as our primary communication tools, so it was a challenge, both exciting and daunting, to look at how we can communicate visually.
When I say ‘communicating’ I’m not talking about texting or social media but rather when we learn something and record it, we are communicating. When we have an idea and we share it with others – maybe even on a blog – we are communicating. When our kids write in their reading journal or create a notebook page, they are communicating what they have learnt.
I have been researching how schools are integrating technology into their classrooms and have been amazed at what apps, tools and online programmes are out there. Teaching technology used to be programming or at least using office software like emails, word documents, blogging and maybe digital cameras. Not so any more….
Technically technology is any tool that helps us achieve a task – from a car, to phone, to a table and chairs! But these days we tend to use the word ‘technology’ to mean ‘digital technology’ especially in the field of communications. We have the smart phone, tablets, computers, internet and all the little programmes that make those devices work. Using these technologies to communicate about ourselves and what we learn was what this unit was all about.
I have found these two websites particularly helpful and inspiring:
There have been four main aspects to our studies
- Character – we need to have the internal guidance to respond to the internet wisely
- Online citizenship – we need the skills to use the internet wisely
- Digital tools – a variety of tools to help us communicate
- Everyday technology – being aware of the everyday uses, and ensuring my children are able to use these technologies appropriately
During this unit our main character study was on Discernment thought we touched on other issues as well:
- Discernment is the ability to distinguish between good and evil, order to make wise decisions. Using the Internet gives a very good application for talking about this quality – especially for teens.
- Self-control – to walk away when we need to; not just because of inappropriate material we may find, but because our time should be spend doing other things.
- Thriftiness – knowing that using the Internet costs money and to curb our desires to fit our budget!
- Creativity – approaching communication from a different perspective, doing something in a new way
- Patience – there are always glitches in technology and we need to have patience – patience means we keep working on it till it is fixed, that we don’t get frustrated.
I used several lessons from Commonsense Media to teach my kids
- To assess how much technology they use in their everyday life
- That they leave a digital footprint whenever they are online
- To carry out effective and efficient searches online
- To test a website, verify it as a valid and appropriate website
- To understand copyright issues
These lesson plans (free) were full of discussion guides, object lessons, video footage and a few exercises for the kids to work on independently. I disregarded the age/year levels and just chose lessons that I thought would address the issues my kids needed to think about. There were many more lessons than I used.
The purpose of this study was to introduce my children to these tools so that they will be able to use them in their learning in days to come.
- Bible study: Online Strong’s Concordance, Parallel Bible and Commentaries
- Voki – a cartoon type avatar that speaks. see our samples: Belinda’s, Naomi’s, Daniel’s
- Good Reads – the idea is to convert our reading lot to a digital form.
- Pinterest – This blog post from Teachbytes on Pinterest has inspired me as I’ve tried to see using Pinterest for more than craft.
- Blogging – I used lesson plans from blogging2learn.wordpress.com to increase their understanding and skills on blogging. The kids are (still) working through these independently.
- Use digital scrapbooking programme
- Comics – though comics have generally been used to communicate humour, the image rich graphic novels shows us that any story can be told this way. There are many comic generators – we used Strip Generator (You can see my attempt at the end of this post)
- Word Cloud – this is about playing around with key words
- Timeline – create any number of timelines and include your graphics – a great solution for moving our history timeline digital
- Maps – creating maps and interacting with markers, images and text.
- Thinglink – connecting images with information
- Glogster – a digital poster for multi-media
- Online Shopping: creating user accounts, purchasing with either credit card or paypal
- Recharge and sync various devices
- Create using traditional office software: word processing, emails, creating charts, slideshows
- Manage computer files – naming documents, moving/copying files or folders, backups
- Downloading digital content – music, audio, e-books, scrapbooking supplies
- Send emails, text messages and phone calls
- Use photocopier, laminator, DVD player, MP4 players etc (not digital technology – but technology none the less)
- Editing photos and preparing them for emailing
This list covers different technology driven tasks that different people did in a day at our house – my goal is to teach each of my kids to be comfortable with each of these skills though they aren’t there yet.
So what now?
We are about to embark on our next study block which will have a different focus, but I expect my children to use these tools (and others) in their studies from now on. My hope is that we will convert most of Naomi’s and Daniel’s recording of their learning to a digital format (aka notebooking but digital). Their first project will be connected to their Bible studies. We are using 7 C’s of History and after each chapter I’m asking them how could they best communicate the key idea to others. They will collate their 7 key ideas on a Glog – which is simply a digital poster for multi media. Stay tuned – when they are done I’ll share it with you.