Technology is not just a class students attend for an hour a week, it’s a part of their everyday lives. One highlight of technology in my elementary science classroom is the digital journal. Everyone loves sharing their observations with friends, and as soon as you ask a student to take a photograph or video, they are hooked! Technology provides an exciting avenue for students to write, draw, videotape, photograph, digram, label, and otherwise explain their thought processes.
Examples of student work, Book Creator digital journals:
Technology means integrating with lessons you are already doing. In the following example, second graders were assigned a real skull to examine and identify. They took measurements (in centimeters!) and then compared their assigned skull to pictures and size charts in an online database. They then made a page to show off what they learned. This required accurate measuring, applied knowledge about tooth shape, eye location, and the animal’s place in the food web, cross referencing between photos and size charts, and online research.
Students needed a variety of tech skills in order to make the animal skull pages above. I keep a running list of iPad skill mastery, and when a student feels he has mastered something, he may add his name to the list. Other students who need help with that skill may then ask him for help. This allows students to take pride in teaching each other, and it allows the teacher to focus on the content-related questions.
I teach the students my system for iPad icons, which helps in giving clear directions:
Students can take a photo of the screen and then overlay text on top to answer the questions. Or they can take a picture of the directions so they don’t have to keep turning back to the board.