For the past couple of decades, there’s been a lot of talk about integrating technology in classrooms across the country. Pretty much everyone agrees that computers and the Internet are here to stay, but how to do teachers and students get the most out of them both in the classroom and at home? How do we use technology as a useful tool instead of a distraction?
How do we teach with technology?
Here are a few tips on how to make the Internet a place of learning!
- Teach kids to search. Have you ever watched a nine-year-old looking for his sneakers on his way out the door for school? It’s a painful lesson in missing the nose on your face. “I can’t find my shoes!” he calls in ever-increasing panic, until someone points out that they’re right at his feet. “Oh.” The Internet can offer the same experience. Adults might assume that key word searches are instinctive: search for the words connected to the subject you want to learn about. Kids’ brains aren’t thinking like that, yet. They need to be trained to think of the words you use to describe the topic you want to know about. Put them in different orders. Think of synonyms. Searching for a name? Surround it with quotation marks. There are lots of useful tips for searching the Internet here.
- Teach kids to be discerning consumers of websites. Sadly, not all website are created equal. Just as you can’t believe everything you hear, you can’t believe everything you read. Kids can learn to check for accuracy by finding three different reliable sources. What’s a reliable source? A government agency is a reliable source, as is established news organizations and scientific institutions. Also watch out for sites that have lots of misspellings, that haven’t been updated for a few months, and that don’t have good pictures.
- Teach them the wonder of primary sources. One of the great things about the Internet is the access to primary sources, which are eyewitness accounts in the form of pictures, videos, advertisements, written accounts, and other forms. Whether your class is studying history, science, social studies, or math, there are sure to be primary sources to look at to get an even deeper impression of the topic. Check out these sites for great primary sources!
The Library of Congress
The Avalon Project at Yale