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October 22, 2008

Google Maps meet Mr. Rogers Neighborhood - Web. 2.0 Pre-K

How do you teach kids their address? It is kind of a rote activity, but with some help from Web 2.0 tools, I was able to make it much more fun and effective.

Web. 2.0 tools have provided teachers tremendous opportunities to increase student achievement. Teachers in upper grades have an easier time of hugging those tools close than pre-k teachers because content is the key to their practice. At the pre-k level, process can be more important than content, so it is harder to see opportunities to expose 4 year olds to 21st century learning. The opportunities ARE there, though, and the more you look for them, the more you find them.  One of the traditional "subjects" or themes in pre-k is family and community.
Here is what happened: In my classroom, I have my computer hooked up to a big TV so that all my students can see the screen. I mentioned to my assistant that I looked up her address by "finding" it in google maps. I showed her how I looked up a school that was near her house and then I used google street view to "drive" to her house. I had dropped her off before and knew how to get there but didn't know the street or the address. She was amazed. Then the kids wanted to see my house. So I typed in my address. After that we were off on a virtual field trip around our neighborhood. Then we asked the kids to name their addresses. It was really exciting for my students to be able to see the landmarks in their neighborhood and tell me how to get their houses. Joseph shouted, "That's my house and that's Sinclair's house!" I asked Tiandra, because I thought she lived across from Iyonna, "Is that your house?" she shouted, "No that's not my house, I live next to the church!" So we "drove" down the street to the church. She said, "go that way!" I said, "Left or right?" using my hands to point. She said "Go right!" and there was her house. The activity built community because we all got see where we all lived and that it wasn't very far from each other. Maybe we will take a trip to Mr. Rogers neighborhood next week.

To go on virtual field trip through my students' neighborhood click here. Make sure to make it full screen for the full effect!


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