This spring I was placed in a third grade classroom at Gesu Perish School. This is a private catholic school that is very different then most of my other shadowing experiences. There are twenty-one students in my classroom and they all seem semi friendly to each other. I have however found that they do have cliques and are pretty territorial over their “group” especially if my corroborating teacher allows partner work. They can become pretty sassy and snappy with one another if someone tries to enter their “group” or if a member of their “group” goes to work with someone outside of the “group”. However, if my corroborating teacher assigns groups they can work with each other with very little conflict. I believe that the choice of partners stresses them a little bit and that’s why they become territorial, possibly worrying that no one will want to work with them. Every student is extremely comfortable around their teacher though. They constantly ask her many, many questions and feel very comfortable sharing their lives with her.
My students work pretty well in small groups, as stated above. Their desks are in clumps so they have automatic groups for everything they do at their desks. Also, every Monday they do an activity called Monday Madness which is science based projects. For this my cooperating teacher tries to mix up the groups each time and make sure all the students have the chance to work with each other. Last week they built marble runs with paper towel rolls and tape and this week they worked on a plan to design bridges out of popsicle sticks and glue. During these activities I was very impressed with the group collaboration, everyone chimed in with their ideas and the group always at least tried it out.
Regarding technology in the classroom, they seem to be transitioning from using just notebooks to write their assignments to typing them digitally. My corroborating teacher explained to me that they have one class set of iPads for all three of the third grade rooms to share. This makes it difficult to use them at all times however, they stay in my corroborating teachers classroom and from my observations her class uses them the most. They use the iPads quite often, they do their weekly word work sorts on them, in which they get a document sent to them through Google Classroom and open it in order to click and drag their spelling words for that week into different categories. My corroborating teacher also allows the students to type up anything they’re working on instead of writing it in their notebooks. For example she was having them write a paragraph on the person that they had just read a biography on, some students hand wrote it while others typed it. There is also a computer in the corner of the room that is technically my corroborating teachers, however, the students go up to it and use it all the time to do research if they have a question about something, or to check out library books. An example of this is that some of the students were not sure if the person they were reading about had died in the time the book was written to now or not, so they would go to her computer and look it up. My corroborating teacher also has a projector that projects onto a white board that she uses as a screen in order to write on activities so her students can follow along.
When I asked my students to tell me about their use of technology at home I received a wide variety of answers. Some of them told me that they could only use technology for an hour a day, others said only after they completed their homework, and a few said that their parents didn’t care how long they spent using technology. When they do get the chance to use technology however, most of what each student told me they spent their time on was similar. Regrading the computer most of them told me they enjoy using it to go on youtube, listen to music, or play mind craft. Many of them also play video games on their Ps4’s or X-box’s like fortnight. Finally, many of them told me that they have iPads at home in which they like to play apps like candy crush. From asking my students about their technology use at home I have discovered that all of the students seem to enjoy similar things but that it really depends on the parents and how much they monitor their children.
I feel that a digital storytelling unit could be very beneficial for my classroom due to their advantages. We read many articles in class about the advantages of having a project of digital story telling, one of the articles, The Effect of Digital Storytelling in Improving the Third Graders’ Writing Skills greatly focused on the specific benefits. The articles studies found that “Digital storytelling enriches the learning environment, curriculum and learning experiences, develops the technical, presentation, research, organization and writing skills, enhances learning motivation and problem-solving capacities, develops academic achievement, attitude, motivation and learning strategies , makes students gain self-confidence, and strengthens the sense of voice, story organization, multimedia literacy skills and writing skills” (YAMAC & ULUSOY, 61). All of these are crucial skills that every students needs constant advancement in. I particularly believe that the students in my class could really increase their problem-solving skills and self-confidence. My students also get so excited when they get the opportunity to work with the iPads, and by having a project like this it would really spark their interests and let them become really creative!