Today Contributor: Sara Springer
I am a kindergarten teacher at Cowan Elementary. This is my second year as the campus CIC. I am enjoying learning new technology resources along with my Campus!
Last year I began thinking about how my campus could get the most out of the devices that we have. The way we have distributed our devices is that grades 3-5 have a class set of chromebooks that they share, while prek-2nd have 5 chromebooks per class. Being a primary teacher, I was running into times where I wished my whole class could have access to a device at the same time. I also wanted to give the older kids on our campus a chance to be technology leaders. Through thinking about these different issues the idea of Technology Buddies was born.
Our school had a system of big buddies and little buddies in place already where an older class and a younger would choose to be buddy classes and occasionally do activities together. Through the years of our school growing and adding new teachers there were many “unmatched” classes. I matched up the “unmatched” classes and maintained the buddy pairs that were already active. In the end, every prek-2nd grade classroom was matched up with a 3-5th grade classroom. The hope was that the classes would meet and have a “traditional” buddy relationship (doing crafts on special days, writing each other letters, reading together) but that they would also add a technology component into their buddy time. This allows for the class sets of chromebooks to be shared with the primary grades AND allows for the older grades to be technology leaders, teaching the younger students new ways to use technology.
The unexpected outcome was that it also gave the younger students a chance to be technology leaders and teach the older students new things!
The first activity my buddy class and I tried doing was a get to know you activity using Padlet. The buddy pairs had instructions to create a tile on the Padlet with a photo of them together and then write about things that they found they had in common. My particular buddy pairing is a kindergarten class paired with a 4th grade class. My class had learned how to navigate Padlet before meeting with their buddy. It was such a neat partnership to watch. The 4th graders were navigating the chromebooks and reading the instructions and helping the kinder students through the steps, but the kinder students were the ones who knew Padlet so they were able to be the experts on that part and take the lead of where to click for each action. It was an amazing shared experience between grade levels.
I have gotten great feedback from teachers in younger grades and older grades about the benefits of Technology Buddies and how much their kids enjoy that time. It is amazing to see kids of all ages working together on the devices that we have on our campus!