Today’s Contributor: Krish Stella
Krish Stella has worked as a school librarian since 2004 and has been at Blazier Elementary since it opened in 2007. She sees 850 students in the library every week, and enjoys collaborating with teachers! She has 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 2 teenagers!
I can remember sitting with my daughter playing games on a CD ROM on our desktop computer in the basement. I also remember how painstaking it was to guide her to use the mouse. In the typical exhausted state of mothers of toddlers, I remember I would encourage her to play the “easier” games where I didn’t have to help her control the mouse as much. Her motor skills were simply not developed enough for mouse independence, but she did get plenty of practice as we continued to play her games.
Fast forward 15 years. I look at my students and realize that most of them probably don’t have desktop computers at home. Many of them have only tablets or touch screens to use with their parents. Their moms are probably not sitting with them on their lap helping them navigate through games with a mouse. This is great for exhausted parents because they can hand over a device to a child and disengage. Children can navigate familiar games without help. This is not as great for teachers however. We are now the ones to introduce mouse navigation skills and perhaps even a keyboard to students.
I find myself in a strange predicament. I am all about my students using technology to enhance learning! I know that they need practice typing on a keyboard, logging in and using a mouse. I see these students in the library for 30 minutes, once each week. Instead of having one child who I am assisting, I may have as many as 24 hands in the air all wanting assistance. It is amazing and exhausting at the same time. I provide students with mouse practice every library class during book checkout. One of the steps is that students have to click on Close to close the window so “no one else can check out books to your account”. Probably close to 50 times a day, I show students how to hold the mouse correctly and which button to push. I teach first graders who can’t spell many words to search for books using the online catalog. When students log on to the portal in the library, I preach use of the Shift key and using the numeric keypad because they mistake the “0” for the “o” and vice versa. Why, oh, why are those two keys so close together? Not to mention the “I” on the keyboard looks like a lowercase “l”.
After jumping through the hurdles to use technology with my youngest Blue Jays, do I even have the energy to guide them through the activity I planned? I power through and continue to plan blended learning activities with my students. I know that they need practice and exposure, and most days I find the patience to guide students through the processes required to use “old fashioned” technology like the keyboard and the mouse. We purchase wireless mice and plug keyboards into our tablets, and I don’t think either will become obsolete in the near future.
I just finished creating my first activity for kindergarten students using BLEND, and I printed, matted and laminated QR login cards for 110 students in six kinder classes because I believe it is important to prepare our students to work in a digital environment. I work with second and third grade students and their teachers to practice logging into the student portal. We use our mouse skills in Google Docs, highlighting text and changing font and color. We as elementary teachers need to understand and embrace our responsibility to expose students to different tools. We need to incorporate technology into our class routines so our students can properly use the tools we expect them to use. I will continue to use seek out new tools to use in the library to help Blazier students to be prepared for what is expected in middle and high school.