Social Studies Extension + Computer

Once a week, my 5th graders go to the Computer Lab for an hour. I'm so very lucky to have a Tech Facilitator that is super cooperative, flexible and willing to let me direct some of my kids' weekly computer time.

At this point in the year, there are a few things that my class is required to do when they get to the lab:
- A Fasttmath lesson
- Any outstanding AR tests (at their own motivation)
- Check their blogs to approve and reply to comments (to maintain good PR with their visitors)

Occasionally they may have an additional assignment from myself or the tech facilitator, but often they are isolated tasks simply directed at practicing skills in keyboarding, word processing, etc. It is rare (and exciting) when I'm able to extend a few classroom units/projects into the lab, which the students can independently complete.

Yesterday was one of those instances where my Social Studies Unit had a built-in extension with a website, where information on the excavation of the Jamestown settlement is available. I posted the assignment on my blog, and prepped my kids for two minutes about their task.

They were to visit my blog to find the assignment, follow the directions, and submit what they learned. They had two options to turn in their work: leave a comment or share a Google Doc.

What Happened

- Fifteen students left comments on the blog post
- Eight students worked through Google Docs and shared them with me
- One student was emailed the assignment since he was sick (still waiting for him to complete)
- All students in class completed the task without me there
- Variety of responses from students

Need to Tweak

- Students who chose to respond with a comment were able to instantly view their classmates' responses on the blog
- Do I want conversation between students in the comment section of the blog post?
- Students who submitted their learning through Google Docs received an embedded feedback from me in their Google Docs
- Do I want to provide individual feedback to all students? Is it necessary for this activity?


I'd love to do something like this again. Luckily, the website was provided to me by my resources and it was completely student appropriate. Finding the right site to direct students to, and also have it pertain to our classroom learning will most likely be the obstacle that would prevent me from doing this type of computer lab activity soon.