Moving Centers into the Digital Age for Student Engagement
Today's students have so many extra sensory things in the form of television, video games, online interactions, hand-held games, mobile phones - even a trip to the market for kids includes some form of interactive environment. Updating or changing your center routines to help students work at a pace of their life may help them, and you, in the fight for their attention.
Analog: Listening to books on tape.
Digital: Recording books to iPods, mp3 players, or computers using programs like GarageBand.
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the books on tape, I use them everyday in my classroom, but, have you listened to them recently? Sound recording has come a long way since the tape. If you are able to get your hands onto some iPod touches or, dare I say it, iPhones for your classroom, you can have student record themselves into the iPods so they can check their fluency. Don't have iPods? Try a computer program to have students record and listen to themselves. Still out of luck? Pull out those tapes and have students practice recording their own versions of the story. (I asked around for old iPods from friends and came up with two! Give it a try!)
Analog: Whole class, everyone works on the same blending lesson.
Digital: Record yourself and play it back onto the iPods and have students run through a group.
You can modify or change how students get the blending lessons. I record myself on GarageBand doing the blending lesson in the curriculum and have students write down the sounds they hear - making them more accountable. It's a mix of blending and dictation. I have seen a GREAT improvement in student participation in the whole class blending - students have a background of the concepts behind the spellings before the lesson, and are able to focus better when blending words aloud with me or with partners.
Analog: Looking up words in dictionary.
Digital: Put those students to work - act, recite, and clap those syllables.
I have found this to be one of the best experiences - you can see students interacting to your recorded voice (that I burned to a CD) following these steps that I recorded the weekend before. They clap syllables, repeat sentences with the words in it, and listen to a story from the curriculum with the words being used in context. I completely recommend this!!
Analog: Do "something".
Digital: Focus students on specific activities.
Focus your students while at the computer center by creating simple websites for students to practice skills and activities that they are learning from the curriculum. Next week, I'll share more about creating your own website and students activities.
Do you have any tips on "updating" centers? Please share them here!
Thanks for reading!