This type of software allows users to create "slideshows" that can include text, graphics, photos, sound, or video. Used wisely, they can support student presentations with visual and text cues. Also, they can improve the way students organize information, using each slide to represent one key idea. Use of criteria will help facilitate meaningful student use, and minimize distracting sounds or backgrounds.
Creating personal learning goals supports literacy
Katherine Dillon teaches second grade in a small, rural elementary school with declining enrollment. This year there were not enough students for two second-grade classes. She now teaches all 32 second-graders and worries how she will help students meet standards.
When the two second-grades were combined, Dillon doubled the networked computers in her classroom, for a total of eight. She designed a project that would integrate math, reading, writing, and technology, and allow for important play and experiential learning, critical for young learners. Students would create a classroom restaurant, "The Better Way Café", providing real-world opportunities to use and create multimedia, use numbers, read, write, and communicate.
Dillon wanted to set goals in a form accessible to her students, allowing for their personalization and ownership. After she selected the appropriate national and state standards in the content areas, she rewrote the ones she wanted to focus on into language second-graders could understand. She considered these goals to be specific, but flexible:
Dillon used software to create a mini-presentation for her class, creating a slide for each of her key learning goals. She used graphics and color to illustrate key ideas. She projected the presentation, introduced each goal, and asked students to explain what each goal meant in their own words. Then she asked them to think about ways they might meet these goals in their new project.
Dillon recorded their ideas, making a class list under each goal. She printed the results of the activity, and gave each student a folder with copies of the presentation, one per goal. In order for them to make real-world*connections to each goal, she asked each student to write three personal goals for the project on each page.
As they read their goals to a peer, Dillon walked around to help with needed corrections. She saw sentences such as:
Dillonis students were off to a good start. She knew that literacy for the 21st century means more than fluency with print. The International Society for Technology in Education developed standards for students technology use in PK2. She chose to focus on two:
Dillon decided to have each student keep a multimedia learning log. She created a template in the presentation software that was installed on all the classroom computers. On the first slide she asked students to write their names. On each of the following three slides she listed one of the goals, along with the ideas from the class brainstorming session. After organizing her students with learning partners, she taught them basic computer skills: she modeled how to open the file, save it as their own, and fill in their own multimedia slides with words, images, and sounds.
Students moved through the unit each day, tracking and monitoring their own learning. They modified or added to their goals, learning how to refine their original ideas or realizing that their goals were too small or too big. Students helped their partners recognize when they had accomplished one of their goals.
Students created many different products for their café using the computers: menus, advertising, presentations, a checkbook, even a made-up history. They wrote and posted job descriptions, reviewing resumes written by the students. All these activities strengthened their reading, writing, and math skills. The use of technology added the component of reality that the project needed.