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Teaching with Tech

Updated: Feb 6

Guest post by Kylee McLafferty

As a kid, I loved to learn all the time. When I wasn’t at school during the summer, I would be a teacher for my brother, my stuffed animals, and my great-uncle when he came to visit. None of my “students” ever complained about learning, so I thought everyone was like me and believed learning in the summer was a great time.

This year, however, I was tasked with tutoring three children and nannying three more. And not a single one of them was excited to learn. One child was so against learning that his mother had to tell him that he was coming to help me practice teaching. Therefore, I had to get creative to make these kids excited to learn.

I tried many games, science experiments, and crafts, but one of the most effective tools I used was technology.

The first time I used technology this summer was with GoNoodle. GoNoodle is an app that shows all kinds of fun and kid-friendly songs with dance moves to follow along with. The girls that I nanny LOVE to dance while they clean, eat, get dressed, etc. One day, when we were bored, I pulled up a GoNoodle song, and they had so much fun dancing and singing along. They were captivated for a very long time, and they were getting in some exercise at the same time! At this moment, I realized that I could use technology to my advantage.

A few days later, I brought my Shifu Orboot that I won at EdcampGCC. This globe uses augmented reality to explore culture, food, monuments, weather, and inventions worldwide. It also leads kids on adventures to solve mysteries. To introduce the girls to this technology, we made airline tickets and passports, climbed aboard an “airplane,” and flew to our first country. Once we landed, we used augmented reality to learn about our new location's monuments, people, and weather. We then found the corresponding flag to add to our passports and wrote down our favorite things we had learned. When we traveled to The United Arab Emirates, my friend who lives there sent us photos to make our adventure come alive. After we had finished traveling, the girls were still playing with the globe while I was getting lunch, and I kept hearing things like, “Whoa, they eat that there?” “I didn’t know that food was created in this place!” “Wait, Hawaii is part of the United States?” “Where is the tallest building in the world again?” It amazed me how much the kids were learning and enjoying it! I now bring the globe every Friday for them to use, and they look forward to it all week.

After this huge success, I decided to use technology to help tutor.

After thinking through all the educational technology tools I could think of, I decided to use GooseChase. This tool allows you to create a scavenger hunt for students that they complete by taking pictures of the answers that they find. I created a GooseChase that was all about math around the house.

The hunt had my students running around counting and comparing shoes, multiplying flowers, using division to determine how many banana split pies we could make, and more. They had so much fun and were eager to complete the math problems. When they finished the game, they were begging to do it again. It amazed me that the children who told me they did not want to learn were begging me to do more math problems. This week, we will do a similar GooseChase, but this time with sight words.

These are just a few examples of how technology has supplemented learning this summer. An important thing to remember about technology is that it is a tool, not a teacher. If I hadn’t been there explaining more about the culture, geography, and importance of our world traveling, the girls would have nowhere to place the learning in their schema and no one to answer their questions.

Additionally, GooseChase was a fantastic tool to excite my students about math, but it did not teach them how to count, multiply, or divide. This summer, I have seen what a blessing technology can be to the teacher, but it should always be used with caution.

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