KAMLOOPS - They have them, so why not use them? That is the mentality of one teacher who is trying to show young students how to use smartphones and tablets as more than just an entertainment device.
Teacher Jason Sandhu has always loved technology and is constantly looking for ways to bring it into his classroom.
“Technology has always been a passion of mine. I know the power it has and I’m not afraid of what it can do,” Sandhu says. “Why would we exclude something that is so important in their lives?”
This mindset means students are allowed to bring phones and tablets into class and Sandhu will often encourage their use for research and taking notes on things like daily agenda items.
“Is this a joke?” is how Grade 5 student Brady McCutcheon says he reacted when he first found out they would use iPads for their projects. “There’s a lot of technology in this school.”
“Mr. Sandhu has always been into technology,” Grade 5 student Rylie Denis says. “It’s pretty cool.”
Grade 6 student Brianna Kreil also enjoys being in a classroom that encompasses technology.
“Mr. Sandhu is trying to introduce us to being techie, we’re the first in the district to do a lot of things,” Kreil says.
This year the students have already completed an iBook project and another one is in the works.
The first, a cookbook, was used as a tool to learn better use of adjectives and how to properly write instructions so other people can understand you. They had to adapt a recipe, actually cook it and take pictures. The result is a stunning iBook set to be released soon.
The current project is a collaboration with a Grade 10 class at Westsyde Secondary School. Teacher Jeremy Reid has been using iBook creation as part of his classes for the last couple years and after attending an Apple education conference together Reid and Sandhu began making plans to have their two classes work together on an 'Across the Rivers Project' using mostly technology as their communication.
Pacific Way acquired 45 iPads this year thanks to a lot of fundraising by students and the parent advisory council. It allowed students in all grades at the school to begin using the tablets for projects and gave Sandhu the opportunity he had been waiting for.
His Grade 5 and 6 students began their Kamloops history project by using an application to share information about themselves with their Grade 10 ‘buddy’ at the other school and then used Skype to talk about the project. Google Drive was used for sharing notes and recently the Pacific Way students started creating the pages using Comic Life while the Westsyde students shot videos to make the iBook even more interactive.
“We’re explaining the 1800s and putting in pictures,” Grade 5 student Shae Baker says of the project. “All the buddies will do a page and some groups will do the same topics.”
The students are excited to be working on this type of project and to be working with high school kids on the project. The look forward to be in a classroom where the use of technology is encouraged and after having met their ‘buddy’ in person for the first time last week they feel a lot less intimidated by the older students now.
Sandhu says it has been easy for the students to adjust to using the technology in his classroom on a daily basis.
“It’s so natural for them,” he says. “It’s good for them to see it’s not just a form of entertainment.”
Being able to more easily share their work with family and friends, even the world, has led to a lot more pride in the work as well. Projects have gone beyond just being a mark towards their report cards.
“When kids can come to school excited it takes away the fears and anxieties and things can actually happen,” he says.
The class is also working on creating commercials about healthy living using iMovie. While Sandhu has hopes for continuing the use of technology in his classroom he does not plan to introduce anything else new this year.
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The cover of the iBook cookbook the class recently completed.
Image Credit: Courtesy Jason Sandhu
Students learned to better describe dishes and how to do instructional writing during a recent iBook cookbook project.
Image Credit: Courtesy Jason Sandhu