Cornerstone First Graders Explore Digital Tools in the AT&T Classroom

It is a pleasure to welcome first graders from Cornerstone Community School and their teacher Mrs. Johnson to the AT&T Classroom. This morning the first graders were introduced to some of the digital tools and programs they will be using over the next three weeks. The websites that the first graders are using can be accessed at the class’s Symbaloo site. Symbaloo is a free bookmarking tool and is particularly useful with younger grades as the icons provide an effective visual cue to help students recognize the site they need to access for a particular activity.

The first graders are exploring several digital tools to support their literacy work in their Daily 5™ rotations.   Daily 5™ is a framework for structuring classroom literacy instruction so children develop lifelong habits of reading, writing, and working independently. During the Daily 5™ time block students select from five authentic reading and writing choices to work independently toward personalized goals while the teacher meets individual needs through whole-group and small-group instruction, as well as one-on-one conferring. The reading and writing choices include: Read to Self, Work on Writing, Read to Someone, Listen to Reading, and Word Work. This morning the first graders were introduced to some of the tools they will be using during their  Daily 5™ rotations- Educreations, Google Docs, and digital eWriter tablets.

Educreations is a free app that allows a tablet or iPad to record the student’s voice and his/her writing and drawing which can be saved for playback and/or shared online. Within the Educreations app, the students are using the camera to take a photo of the book passage and then using the app’s microphone to record themselves reading the passage aloud. Finished recordings are saved within the Educreations app so that the students are also able to play back & listen to the passage to self-assess their own reading fluency.The first graders are using Educreations for reading fluency practice. The term reading fluency refers to the ability to read a text accurately, quickly, and with expression. Fluency is an important reading skill because it provides a bridge between word recognition and comprehension. When fluent readers read silently or aloud, they are able to recognize words automatically so they are able to also comprehend the meaning at the same time. Because fluent readers do not have to concentrate on decoding the words, the reader can focus his/her attention on the meaning of the text/words and make connections among the ideas in the text to their own background knowledge. In contrast, less fluent readers must focus their attention on figuring out the words, leaving them little attention for understanding the meaning of text.

The first graders were also introduced to Google Docs to use as a writing platform. Google Docs is a web-based word processor that is accessible at no cost through the software office suite offered by Google within its Google Drive service. The first graders each have their own Gmail account which they use to log into Google Drive to use Google Docs. All of their work is automatically saved to their individual Gmail account and accessible from any device with Internet access.

In addition to laptops and iPads, the first graders also have access to eWriters as part of their classroom toolkit. Within their work space, each of the first graders has a Scribble n’ Play ewriter. The Scribble n’ Play utilizes liquid crystal display (LCD) technology to provide a digital tool for all writing and creativity tasks such as drawing, text writing/notes, mathematical calculations and mathematical writing. Students are to able to choose from the eWriter’s four unique Stylus tools to write and draw in multiple colors to create different visual effects that promote students’ engagement, motivation and creativity as they approach their work and projects.  
This morning the first graders used the Scribble n’ Play ewriters for a writing reflection and for Word Work during Daily 5.

The first graders ended their morning with keyboarding practice using Keyboarding Zoo at the ABCya website. Keyboarding Zoo uses a game-like format to help young children learn to use the keyboard. The game provides practice using navigating keys to type words and short sentences and to use the period key and spacebar and form uppercase and lowercase letters.
In addition to keyboarding games, the ABCya website offers a tremendous number of activities and games that target skills and concepts in other specific subject areas for children in preschool through grade five.