Guest post by Kylee McLafferty
As a kid, I loved to learn all the time. During the summer when I wasn’t at school, 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 that everyone was like me and believed learning in the summer was a great time.
This year, however, I was tasked with tutoring 3 children and nannying 3 more. And not a single one of them was excited to learn. In fact, 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 really creative in order 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! It was at this moment that I realized that I could use technology to my advantage.
A few days later, I decided to bring my Shifu Orboot that I won at EdcampGCC. This globe uses augmented reality to explore culture, food, monuments, weather, and inventions all over the world. It also leads kids on adventures to solve mysteries. To introduce the girls to this technology, we made airline tickets and passports and climbed aboard an “airplane” and flew to our first country. Once we landed, we used the augmented reality to learn about the monuments, people, and weather in our new location. We then found the corresponding flag to add to our passports, and we wrote down our favorite thing that we learned. When we traveled to The United Arab Emirates, my friend who lives there sent us photos to really make our adventure come alive. After we were 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 of the educational technology tools I could think of, I decided to try using 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 same children who told me they did not want to learn, were now begging me to do more math problems. This week, we are going to do a similar GooseChase, but this time with sight words.
These are just a few examples of the ways that technology has supplemented learning this summer. An important thing to remember about technology, though, 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 make my students excited about math, but it did not teach them how to count, multiply, or divide. I have seen first-hand this summer what a blessing technology can be to the teacher, but it should always be used with caution.