Monday, January 25, 2010

Technology and Media in the 3-6 classroom and Home

In our society, we hear so much about media and its evils or overuse. Some think the solution is to never expose a child to media. Some use media as a virtual babysitter. And then there is everything in between. This is just how we use media in our school, and we do, and how I personally use media at home.

We do not use television daily, weekly, or even monthly, but we do use it if a documentary or a staged production fits in with a particular theme the students are working with. For example when studying poetry we were led to TS Eliot's Book of Practical Cats and then those interested watched the London production of Cats. I have a student who is now in 6th grade and he still talks about this musical with his parents and he remembers watching it in class. We at this point do not use TV shows or movies in school. However, I would not be opposed to a fitting Sid, the Science Kid show (PBS) or another carefully screened show if it met the schools values and what we are studying at that time. And we would certainly do experiments or investigations along with it, it would just be one piece of exposure in our web of experiences.

We use computers in the classroom for research resources, for example, we are having an international fair and one class chose China so they watched the Dragon Dance on YouTube and then made a dragon and tried the dance. Ideally we would rather have live performers in, but most times that is impossible (cost, time, space, impromptuness of what they want to learn about). I would like to find computer programming to actually teach students computer/typing skills, because in our society it is important for them to learn and it is something they are interested in. However, I have not yet found software I would like to be in the classroom. Therefore, we do not have computers in the classroom for student use. The Montessori software available that I have found is just our apparatus in computer form and I personally do not feel like that is as beneficial at this age as actually manipulating the apparatus.

We use recorded music at all age levels. Sometimes as sing alongs, sometimes nap music, sometimes fun dance music, and definitely to introduce composers, instruments, and their work. Sometimes the whole class can hear the music being played, sometimes a student uses headphones to listen to Vivaldi's Four Seasons privately.

I feel that there are good points to media, used properly. A thing cannot be fundamentally evil, all is dependent on use.