“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.” Bill Gates
I must say that I love what’s happening with technology in teaching these days. I am grateful to be a part of it. However, Bill is right in that motivating and teaching students to work together are two magical tasks that look very easy, but take a lot of finesse.
This year, my friend and I spent many hours over the summer creating integrated technology tools to connect with our social studies and reading objectives.
One goal we had before school started was to let the children taste themselves around the world, by making or eating something each week from the highlighted country. This week, we’ve been taking our children to Mexico. Check out our Pepita Talks Twice Glogster with all of the exciting activities we are doing.
Today was our day to make tortillas. Have you ever taught tortilla making to twenty third-grade students? It might be compared to trying to move an octopus, or let’s say five of them. How would we each get 40 hands working together to accomplish the task? As I put the supplies together last night for the three classes, I feared a disastrous explosion of flour bombs in all of the third-grade classes.
To my surprise, the students used all of the skills we’ve been teaching them since the first day of school. We guided them, and they followed. They even punctuated the instruction sheet as part of our grammar connection. At the end of the day, I saw 60 finished tortillas waiting to be cooked. Success!
We used technology throughout the day, let the children get their hands dirty, and reminded the students that tomorrow they will be making some vegetarian taco soup to go along with the tortillas they made today while learning about story elements. As we read our stories, the meanings are coming to life, and the children are learning to work together as well.
Yes, Bill, technology can take us places. The real work, however, comes from a teacher, who loves her students, and wants to see them motivated and working together. But yes, the technology helps!