Recently we were awarded a technology grant from the Communities Foundation. It has changed the entire way we conduct a program and quickly developed some skills in the kids that we've always tried to figure out ways to cultivate, but never had the resources or knowledge of how to.
With our new digital cameras, we choose one of the kids to be a Photographer who documents the program. With our voice recorders, we choose a daily Reporter who asks people questions throughout the program. The daily Historian writes about or illustrates what we do in his/her journal and we are able to scan it and post their drawings/writings on their blog (http://www.ourasafamily.blogspot.com/).
Because we now have working computers and a projector, I have been able to sit kids at computers while I demonstrate how to do things on the overhead projection. The kids (1st-5th graders) are becoming more and more independent in their own blogging capabilities. All of the kids can sign in to their blog independently. The posts you see on their site are all their own. Some of them have taken on the task of writing their own posts and calling in their own audio blogs; others dictate their thoughts to the adults. Everything posted comes straight from them.
The educational possibilities are limitless with technology!
By blogging, kids are reading their own writing and the writing of their friends. They are learning the importance of learning to type. By labeling their blog posts, they are picking out the main idea. As we ask the kids to develop questions for the audio posts and voice recorders, the kids are finally beginning to gain a curiosity for what's around them. While the questions started out as closed-ended questions like, "Do you read healthy books?" "Do you work out when I'm not home?" they have developed into open-ended questions like, "What is fiber?" "Why do people say carrots make you see better?" "How does eating fruit make your muscles bigger?" We have now started researching these questions on the internet. They are developing critical thinking skills!
True enough, technology didn't *create* the learners...but what it did do was provide us with the tools that allow us to be creative in our approach and has helped us connect with people and opportunities/resources we didn't know existed!
Money may not be everything...but being without it sure creates quite an information barrier bewteen people who have access and those who don't. What kid doesn't love technology and want to learn the cool things you can do with it?? It's not just the kids; the parents are involved in different ways as well. Keep checking their blog (www.ourasafamily.blogspot.com) to see and hear their thoughts, parents comments, their photography, and all kinds of other great stuff!