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Harlfinger ILT Internship 1

ILT Internship Report


Developing a Technology Course for Primary Students
Katie Harlfinger
University of Colorado-Denver
Fall 2015

Harlfinger ILT Internship 2

Introduction
I am a teacher librarian, primary technology teacher, and the school
technology representative for an elementary school in Southwest Denver.
In June 2015, I was told I was going to be taking on the challenge for the
2015-2016 school year of teaching first and second grade students in the
computer lab for one of their specials courses. I have been teaching
kindergarten and first grade in the library for the last 8 years, so this will be
an exciting new change to my schedule. This report details my work at
beginning a technology course for first and second grade students for the
2015-2016 school year, specifically the fall semester.

Setting
Our school is a title one school serving 759 students ages three to age
twelve. Our school has a 92.3% free and reduced lunch rate. Our school
is a highly gifted and talented magnet school which also offers full day
Early Childhood Education and Kindergarten classes. There are 4
classrooms at each grade level and music, art, physical education, and
technology specials courses held each day.

Participants
I am working with first and second grade students in a computer lab setting
with 35 Dell Desktop computers. There are 115 first grade students and
103 second grade students. There are a total of 8 class sections. Each
grade level has two English classes, one Spanish class and one Gifted and
Talented class. I am collaborating with my in building mentor, the 3-5 th
grade technology teacher, and classroom teachers to develop the course
and program throughout the school year.

Problem
Staring a technology course from scratch with no set curriculum was a
challenge. I wanted to make sure my course enhanced what students were
doing in the classroom and to learn computer basics. According to Parker
& Telep (2012) direct instruction in computer skills in a lab doesnt
compete with technology use in the classroom, it improves it. What takes
place in the lab gives students the confidence to use technology effectively
in other classes (p. 6). I started to research technology instruction for
primary students and was surprised that there was not much out there.
When I conducted an online search for primary computer lab programs,
curriculum and lesson plans, you mostly get other technology teachers

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Wikispaces, websites, or ads for purchasing software. I was not exactly


sure where to start planning, so I reached out to other technology teachers
in my school district to get a general idea of what is going on around the
district with first and second grade students in the computer lab setting.
The feedback I received from other technology teachers was not too
promising. Most of them stated they work on mouse skill and navigation
and that is about all. I started off planning using the Denver Public School
Matrix for Digital Skills Progressions and Standards. I learned that my
school district has no common curriculum for teaching technology. Most
tech teachers develop their programs based on what skills the school
wants their students to know and what their current students are capable of
producing. According to Bucci (2002) technology has become another
content area with a two-fold purpose: to teach children to use technology
and to use technology to enhance the teaching of other content areas (p.
46). With this knowledge, I decided for the first semester of the school year
I will teach students how to navigate and use our technology. In the
second semester of the school year, I will begin to incorporate other
content areas into my classes. I want my students to understand how
technology is used to enhance what they are learning in the main
classroom setting. By the end of the courses, students will be able to
produce a multimedia digital product.

Work Process
After reaching out to other district technology teachers, conducting some
online research, and wading though the district matrix for digital skills and
standards, I was trying to determine the best way to house my lessons for
my students. In June of 2015, I attended the InnEDCO (Innovative
Education Colorado) conference in Keystone, Colorado. The conference is
designed to help teachers integrate technological tools with 21st century
skills, it encompasses hands on workshops and networking opportunities to
increase technology use with students. The conference offered some great
ideas to start building my program. The biggest takeaway I had from the
conference was learning how to build a Google Site as the hub of my
courses. Our district has unlimited Google Drive access and free use of
Google Sites. I began developing two different sites for my first grade and
second grade classes. Having the sites as our home base will allow my
student to navigate successfully to class work and assignments.

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Along with my many job duties at school, I am in charge of developing the


master schedule and specials rotations schedules. When I started
plugging in teachers necessary planning time and specials teachers
rotations I came across some interesting facts. At my school, we have
173.5 student contact days. Our building runs a four-day rotation schedule
where students rotate through Physical Education, Art, Technology, and
some classes have Music. Instructional time in a specials course is slim.
In one school year, a specials teacher may see their day one rotation
students only 44 times for the entire year. With only 45-minute class blocks
that is a total of 33 hours per year, or 5 full school days. Now that I am a
specials teacher in technology, it is so important I get the most out of the
small amount of time with I have with my students.
Planning for my courses began over the summer and I built out the frames
of my two student websites. Using Google Sites has been a learning
experience. I do not think it was a very user friendly site builder, but after a
few weeks working on it, I was able to figure out all the tricks and short
cuts. As with learning any new technology, just being immersed in it is the
best way to learn it. My sites were built, now I was just waiting on school to
start. Lyons & Tredwell (2015) stated, assessing childrens background
knowledge of technology tools and vocabulary can support the
development of a curriculum that enhances the childs engagement with
learning (p.153). I knew I had a general idea of where I was going to start
each class, but really I needed to get to know my new students to find out
what they were capable of.

Objectives/Goals
I have three main objectives for the 2015-2016 school year.
The course will be able to meet the needs of all students through
differentiation.
Students will be able to successfully navigate using the computer to
complete tasks.
At the end of term, students will be able to develop a multimedia
project.

Procedures
The first few weeks of September were spent getting to know the rules of
the computer lab and how to navigate to our class websites. Most students
picked it up right away and it only took a few class sessions for it to
become automatic. Our primary classrooms only have one or two desktop

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computers and some laptops for student use. The internet they use at
home is mostly from parents smartphone use. Building navigation skills is
a must. We follow three simple rules in the computer lab: be safe, be kind,
and have fun. Time was also spent teaching routines for entering and
exiting the lab. I wanted to make sure my classroom, even though it is not
a typical classroom, ran smoothly from the start of the school year.
I wanted my students to be able to work toward having some free game
time in the lab, so I incorporated an incentive system to use for students.
Each month in our school we work on developing a Personal Success
Factor. There are seven factors we follow: curiosity, gratitude, optimism,
zest, self-control, grit, and social intelligence. This is a school wide
initiative so I thought it would be a nice way to incorporate an incentive
tracker around these personal success factors in the technology lab. I use
a Promethean ActivInspire flipchart where the kids come up and move a
tech treasure and their name when they are showing or embodying the
personal success factor. Here is an example of one of my classes working
toward showing self-control to earn free time on pbskids.org (their favorite
site):

After every students gets to pull their tech treasure from the treasure chest
to the jar, the free game time is earned. This has been working really well
and I have found it takes about two months for all names to get pulled. It

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keeps my students working on the assignments I give knowing they are


going to earn the free time.
First Grade
For my first grade students learning about computers was entirely new to
them. We spent most of our time learning how to navigate to the Google
Chrome browser, finding the first grade bookmark, and clicking on their
class number. On their own class pages, I have an objective posted for the
day along with activities. I started all classes on a game from the website
Teach Your Monster to Read. This site utilizes a username and password,
a concept that was entirely new to my students. I still have some students
who struggle logging into the site, but for most of the students they have
mastered what it means to logon with a username and password.
With this new skill I was able to switch gears to a typing program called
learning.com. This site uses a more difficult username and password and
tracks students typing skills. The site has everything from simple hunt and
peck lessons to full two handed typing drills. The site also has inquiry
based projects which I am planning on staring in January of 2016. My main
goal for first grade aligns to my district Student Learning Objective (SLO)
which is all first grade students will be able to use digital resources to
develop their keyboarding and navigation skills in order to create a Google
Slides Presentation to publish their writing while collaborating with others.
This objective statement correlates with the CCSS.ELALITERACY.CCRA.W.6 which is to use technology, including the Internet, to
produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
This SLO will be part of my end of year evaluation and student growth
scores.
To meet my SLO, in January of 2016 we will be starting to logon on to our
Google accounts and learn basic word processing techniques and learning
how to use Google Slides. Each spring the first grade classes complete
non-fiction animal reports with their classroom teacher. I will collaborate
with first grade teachers and we will turn students written projects into a
digital product. They will create a Google Slides presentation of their
animal to meet my objective of creating a multimedia project.
Second Grade
For my second grade students, they are new computer lab specials, but I
have worked with them on a few computer-based projects last school year.

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I am running a website similar to the first grade site which enables students
to have a home base to navigate to and from. The first few weeks were
spent on rituals and routines in the lab setting. I also use the Tech
Treasures incentive with my second grade students.
Content started sooner than first grade and we started right away with the
website learning.com. I collaborated with classroom literacy teachers to
link content to what they were working on in class and made extension
work for them in the lab. I have used videos and screen-casting to get
students on different tools. Some tools I have used so far include: Padlet,
Wordle, Screencast-o-matic, YouTube, and Brainpop. Students also
worked on extension work on the websites Teach Your Monster to Read
and ABCmouse.
With second grade my goals are similar to my first grade students and I
want my students to become successful navigators of online tools and they
have become pretty savvy already. Each class is also very different, so I
am differentiating their needs on their own class site. My second grade
classes are not linked to a district SLO, but I am still planning a large end of
year multimedia project. Beginning in January of 2016 we are going to be
logging into students Google accounts and using Google Classroom I will
be assigning more word processing projects and our final course project
will be to produce a simple life timeline made with Google Drawing. This
project plan is still under construction as I am not too familiar with using
Google Drawing, but I am working on learning all the tools involved. I think
my students will really enjoy making their life timeline on Google Drawing.

Findings
I found from the first semester of this school year is that every student and
every class section in a specials course is different. If you do not
differentiate to meet the needs of your students, you are not setting them
up for successful learning. I found that some students catch on to
navigating technology at a much faster rate than others, and having
extension work for them to got to after an assignment is a must.
I found that a younger students attention span with technology is not as
long as I thought it would be. I have found that breaking up a 45-minute
session with around a 15-minute teacher instruction, a 15-minute activity,
and a 15-minute extension time works best. If students do not have

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something to look forward to doing at the end of the required assignment, I


seem to not keep their motivation and attention.
I found younger students technology experience is mostly playing games.
My progression with learning and teaching technology to primary students
is to introduce different academic language and tools used with technology,
but still give them time for the fun part of playing with technology.

Conclusion
This year has been a great learning experience. I am a librarian first and
foremost, but now being able to have the ability to teach technology will
allow me to market myself for the future. I know that technology is here to
stay and instead of backing away from the challenge I took it head on. I
have found that my younger students are very capable technology users.
Now that I am spending time teaching them navigation and basic skills, it
will allow our 3-5th grade technology teacher to be able to spend more time
on inquiry and in-depth technology projects when my current students
move through the grade levels.

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References
Bucci, T. T. (2003). The technology teaching lab: Meeting the ISTE
challenge. Action in Teacher Education, 24(4), 1.
Denver Public School Matrix for Digital Skills Progressions and Standards
(2014). Retrieved from Google Spreadsheet, December 4, 2015.
Harlfinger, K. (2015) First Grade Technology Site.
Harlfinger, K. (2015) Second Grade Technology Site.
Lyons, C. D., & Tredwell, C. T. (2015). Steps to implementing technology in
inclusive early childhood programs. Computers in the Schools, 32(2),
152-166.
Parker, J., & Telep, T. (2012). Are computer labs obsolete? Learning &
Leading with Technology, 40(1), 6.