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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tech Vocabulary

Big things happening in 3rd grade right now...we logged into Tarrier Apps for the first time last week! I have frequently mentioned to faculty the need to have a shared vocabulary when it comes to computer instruction, particularly with young children. With my youngest students the past few years, we have talked about the vocabulary of technology like it's learning another language. If I say the word "menu" to my kids, am I talking about ordering takeout? No! But if I casually throw this word into the beginning of a set of instructions (go to the Go menu and pull down to "Connect to Server") and they don't know what it means, I've lost them almost immediately. Five steps down the list of directions I have a few who remind me of this when they ask, "What do we do first?"

Now, each time we begin a new lesson, I keep a running list of vocabulary words on the board, and I try to refer to them every subsequent week to keep us all speaking the same language. Last week, for example, since it was our first time using Google Apps for Education, we spent a little time trying to understand what the "cloud" is. And we learned the meaning of the word "collaboration." These are big concepts when your 8 or 9, but we were ready for them because we had already learned other key words like username, password, login, docs. I walked the kids through a lesson in opening a shared doc, making a copy, renaming it, and sharing it back with me using very specific language, modeling the process for them, and checking for understanding (they all did it!). We actually got into the assignment a bit before I noticed the "Try the new look" button that showed up a few weeks ago in the Googleverse. I had not yet made the switch (I tried in Blogger, but quickly returned to the Classic view so I could finish what I was doing without getting lost). Since my students had never before seen the "old" look, I made a command decision to have us all start with the new one, and we all clicked over, oohing and aahing at how amazing it was and fancy the new red buttons looked. As I discussed with them the nature of this online environment, and Google's propensity to change things frequently to make improvements, I actually said this:

"This is all up in the cloud. And sometimes the Google cloud rains down some changes on us. We just have to absorb it and roll with it."
They actually understood me.

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