By: Patti Duncan, Manager, Partner Success Activation
The beginning of every school year means new students who need to learn your classroom routines, which includes resources like Social Studies Techbook. If your students have had access to Social Studies Techbook previously you can assess their understanding of navigation, interaction, and ability to effectively use this resource for learning and provide support based on what students may still need help learning. If using Social Studies Techbook is new to your students, you have to decide how to introduce it in an authentic way that doesn’t take time away from instruction.
The approach you take depends on many factors, including your classroom’s layout, your classroom management strategies, and the quantity and types of technology available to you. Below I’ll describe three examples of potential approaches that allow you to introduce Social Studies Techbook to your students as they are beginning a new concept or unit.
The 1:1, 1:2, or 1:3 Technology Setting
For this learning environment I would provide students with a “Scavenger Hunt” that they would use in groups of 2-3. The scavenger hunt would serve two purposes: allow students to become more familiar with how to navigate and interact with Social Studies Techbook and also support content learning that students would be investigating at this time of year. Having the scavenger hunt also work as a scaffold for students and allows the teacher to circulate among students and provide more support to those who need it. Even in a 1:1 environment, I would have students work as partners to begin emphasizing the value of collaboration and that they should be each other’s first line of support. This approach can evolve based on how quickly students become comfortable navigating Social Studies Techbook. As each scaffold becomes unnecessary, it is removed from the scavenger hunts.
The Small Groups (4-6 students) or Stations Technology Setting
In this learning environment, I would take the same approach of using a “Scavenger Hunt”, however due to the larger group sizes I would make modifications. Students would have to take more frequent turns to have hands-on time with navigation, and I would be sure to include a reflection section at the end, which could be completed by students away from Social Studies Techbook. Students might be asked to describe which aspects of navigation were easiest/most challenging, which resources they found most valuable/confusing, and what they would focus on the next time they use Social Studies Techbook. This reflection piece would certainly be valuable in the example with smaller group sizes, but I would consider it essential when student groups were larger. This individual accountability will help students stay engaged even when they aren’t actively using a device.
The One Computer Classroom
The focus of this approach is more about students becoming comfortable with understanding how to learn from different resources. Similar to a scavenger hunt, I would provide students with a handout of “look fors”, which focus their thinking and draw attention to what is important about each Social Studies Techbook resource. Crucial to this is using probing questions to get students to think about not only the content, but how to interact with the content. Letting students take turns “driving” the computer provides some opportunities for navigation, and asking students what they think the next step should be encourages them to analyze the Techbook as a resources while they are considering its content. Including time for students to discuss what they have learned with each other.