Teachers are all working ‘differently’ these days as they shift to virtual classrooms. It’s a challenge! But some of these changes might even enhance student achievement. In a previous post, I outlined some general hints for success. Here are some specific tips to adapt to online learning with TechnoKids projects.
No Internet or Limited Access?
Even if students do not have a reliable Internet connection, you can modify TechnoKids projects to adjust. They can use Microsoft Office desktop programs to develop essential technology skills and explore ways to compensate for lack of online connectivity.
Offer alternative resources. TechnoBudget teaches financial literacy and personal finance. Students create a budget and spending plan with an online shopping spree. Instead, suggest that students browse through paper shopping circulars or use their own knowledge of prices to achieve the same goal. They will gain the critical spreadsheet skills whatever creative way they find the item prices.
Omit research tasks. TechnoTravel is a presentation project in which students promote a weekend getaway. Rather than researching online, suggest to students that they pick a place with which they are familiar. A known topic will eliminate the need to research online. Students will still acquire the key technology learning outcomes.
Not Enough Time?
Leave out selected activities. All TechnoKids projects have optional assignments that may be omitted. Review Questions test student understanding of concepts and tools. Skill Reviews are exercises that repeat skills in a new way to support understanding. Extension Activities are challenges that offer enrichment or additional skills. Any or all of these activities may be omitted without losing any of the technology objectives of the project.
Assign selective parts of a project. TechnoInternet teaches search strategies, Internet safety, digital citizenship, and more. Pick and choose the activities according to which skills your students need or which ones your curriculum requires.
Teach half a project. TechnoTurtle is an introduction to programming using Python and the Turtle library. You can use just the first three sessions instead of all six to provide a solid foundation in coding skills for beginners.
Too Many Technology Skills to Teach?
Use TechnoKids resources. TechnoEarth encourages students to become environmental advocates. Bypass the research requirement of the project. As an alternative, focus on the skills of designing an infographic. Use the 13 provided fact sheets on critical universal issues such as acid rain, invasive species, endangered reefs, and more. These one-page summaries provide all the informative and comprehensive facts that students need to create their unique call to action.
Zone in on the fundamentals. TechnoRestaurateur turns students into young entrepreneurs. They complete a variety of activities as they plan a new restaurant. Restrict the project to only the survey and graphing skills. If time allows, include the summary report to build word processing skills. You can omit designing the company logo and drafting a floor plan and still maintain the key elements of the project.
Are Some Students Progressing at a Faster Pace?
Include optional activities. Did you leave out selected activities as suggested above? If some students are moving ahead of others, assign the Review Questions, Skill Reviews, or Extension Activities to keep them engaged and learning new skills.
Offer follow up projects. If you’re using Scratch Jr to teach coding, and a student has finished TechnoWhiz, use TechnoTales to build on their skills and enthusiasm. Similarly, if students want another programming challenge after TechnoTales, introduce them to TechnoCode using Scratch 3. Refer to TechnoKids’ project matrix to view the grade level, technology skills, and app used in each project and to determine what’s next.
Diverse Technology Skills in the Class?
Designate student peer coaches. To both assist the teacher and to engage students who have advanced skills, invite selected children to communicate with and assist their classmates. Make use of the unique collaborative nature of online technology – Google Classroom, Microsoft Online, Class Notebook, Teams, Zoom or even email or texting. Encourage kids to help others with troubleshooting, editing, or partner and group assignments.
Add flexibility to the curriculum. TechnoBookmaking builds word processing skills with a collection of templates to create fun publications. They can make unfolding riddle books, flip flap stories, layer fact books, and many more. Allow students to make one, two, or as many of the activities as they can without setting minimum requirements.
Having Trouble Engaging Students?
Hook students with their personal interests. TechnoBlog allows students to write in their own voice. In this project, they select a topic of personal expertise such as a sport, a favorite author, or a hobby. With step-by-step instructions and writing starters, they publish a series of different blogs. They share an insight, provide advice for peers, and articulate an opinion about their subject. Then they communicate with an authentic audience of their classmates for feedback, developing responsible digital citizenship skills.
Entice students with expressing their opinions. In TechnoDebate, pairs of students choose a controversial issue of their choice and argue the pro and con sides of the topic. Using Google Slides or PowerPoint Online, they design an illustrated slide show. When complete, they offer rebuttals, support their viewpoints with facts, and invite class participation. Do cell phones improve communication? Should zoos be allowed to operate? Is it fair to lose marks for late work? Build on your students’ interests and concerns.