Well I made it through another two weeks and I think I'm getting the hang of the flexibility and quick changes this digital literacy program requires. My biggest (and best) adjustment came in the fact that I focused more closely on each grade level, accepting the fact that my K-2nd group would not get as far as my 3-5th grade group. I kept the general theme in mind but catered each day for the age level. The middle schoolers continue to challenge me and I hope by the end of my time at UNCC, I've made some sort of progress with them.
Week Two: Demystifying technology and Internet basics
Our goal was to explore the inside of a computer and hope that if students understood the components better, they could be more confident computer users. For K-5th graders, I started the week off with some videos. Each student got a pair of headphones so they could watch the videos at their own pace. I hoped that because they got specialized attention (aka could listen without distractions), they might retain information a bit better.
This seemed to work well. The kids retained the information better, especially since they had images to attach the computers parts to. We focused on seven components that I feel make up the foundation of a computer -- hard drive, CPU, RAM, motherboard, optical drive, video card, and power supply.
Once we had those components under our belt, we moved to some other computer basics. I tried to help demystify those jargon-y words like "desktop," "taskbar," "URL," and the difference between Google Chrome (browser), and Google (search engine). It took us the whole week, but I think we are now getting the hang of it.
Week Three: Roblox Studio turned Google Maps
This was probably my most trying week. I came in on Monday with a clear plan. I had diagrammed it out, watched lots of videos, and was sure I was golden on this plan.
I was wrong.
I started Monday off with asking my K-2nd graders to create an aerial map of a world in Roblox (their favorite game to play). Within minutes, it became clear that an aerial map was a hard concept to grasp and the kids preferred to play Roblox then figure out how a world was laid out.
Then I had my 3-5th graders who were asked to draw an aerial view of one level of an obstacle course in Roblox. I had students go on non-obstacle course games and many who just played with their notebook piece of paper tossed to the side. I was frustrated and a little disappointed in myself for not thinking it through.
On day two (Tuesday), I came back with a new idea. I decided to take a step back and focus on the map aspect instead. With something like Google Maps at our fingertips, complete with street view, I saw a different way to think about things. I had my K-5th graders go to Google Maps and explore that platform. It involved lots of street viewing and trying to find their houses. The street view is comparable to Roblox and so that was a nice jump for the students.
On Wednesday, we went back to Google Maps and kept exploring. I encouraged the kids to go outside of Urbana-Champaign and we had students looking at Australia, India, Africa, and the inside of Sky Zone. So a nice wide range of places. Two days were what was needed for ample exploration.
We ended week three with two different projects for the K-2nd and 3-5th grade group. The K-2nd grade group worked on making their own worlds on a piece of paper. Perhaps we can take those ideas and translate it into a digital world at some point. Then with the 3-5th graders we used Mapbox to create personal maps with significant places.
I missed having an instructor station during the Mapbox activity. We were able able to log into my central account but the lack of a projector meant I had to give verbal instructions. I think some visual instructions would have greatly helped but the lack of projector forces me to be more intentional with instructions.
Week three was frustrating, not going to lie. I felt defeated and sometimes got bogged down with my frustration and disappoint that the program wasn't going as planned. However, I think this camp is making me a stronger instructor. At the end of the day, these kids are incredible and I want to do whatever I can for them and their digital literacy skills.
My new plan is to work towards Roblox Studio or another game maker platform. I need to remember to take smaller steps and not be afraid to step back to gain the skills they need to move forward. As always, any feedback or thoughts on the program so far are appreciated!