Royal Happenings: A tech walk through kindergarten

By Marnie Pauly
WM Primary School Dean of Students

I knew when the Watertown-Mayer Schools iPad adoption happened, I would be impressed by the impact it would have on students and staff.  Having a 3-year-old at home, I was already aware that the iPad is a beneficial tool for all ages, especially when my mom tells me her grandson has taught her yet another game.   Knowing how easy it is to find games on the iPad, my main concern was making sure we didn’t add this tool into instruction just to play.

School has been in session for over a month now, and, with it being kindergarten’s first year with SMART boards, as well, I am excited to see how this technology is supporting instruction.  To achieve this goal, I decide to take a quick “tech walk” through the building, focusing solely on the use of technology in our classrooms.   Here is a sneak peek at what I observed during this “tech walk” through the kindergarten hallway at Watertown-Mayer Primary School.

In the first room I observe, four students rotate to a math station where they use an app on the iPad to sort shapes and colors. This app replaces the manipulatives they would have used last year.  The student is excited to explain what he is doing and why.

In the next room, it is calendar time.  A student is graphing the weather on the SMART board.  The teacher will save this graph, which the class will use to add and compare tomorrow’s data.    The student clicks on an audio button, and a Days of the Week song starts playing as the children sing along.

In another room, the students are using math manipulatives.   In the background, an iPad is linked to the SMART board, projecting pictures of each student working to remind them of what it looks like to work hard.

In the gym, Coach Dave uses an iPad to take pictures of students and send them to families, as well as for an electronic behavior chart to determine the Rock Star of the Day.  I pop into Mrs. Ravenscroft’s room for music, where a special education teacher sits in the corner, video-recording the children.  This video will be viewed by the class for feedback on singing and movements.

In the final classroom, I see all the students gathered around the SMART board, holding their iPads, during a vocabulary lesson.  Instead of reading the new word, explaining its meaning, and leaving the lesson at that, the teacher has directed students to take a picture of a graphic on the SMART board.  Without hesitation, the students stand, select the camera icon, and take a picture of the graphic.  The teacher then hooks up her iPad to the SMART board, which allows the students to see what she sees on her iPad.  The teacher discusses with the students what a good citizen is, citizen being the vocabulary word.  The students look at the picture they took of a good citizen.  They relate the term back to their classroom expectations and how they are good citizens in the classroom and community.  Next, they open a different app and send the picture they took from their picture gallery to this app.  They record themselves saying the definition.  This is now linked to a story board where students can create a story about citizenship.

So what do I discover on my “tech walk?”  What do I leave thinking?  It isn’t just that technology is being used, or even the creative ways it is being infused into instruction.  What strikes me the most is how engaged the students are as teachers use these tools to enhance their teaching.  I am so impressed with these first few months of school and can hardly wait to see what my next “tech walk” will show me.

Royal Happenings is an occasional feature in the Carver County News. Content is provided by Watertown-Mayer staff.