By Karen Dundas

At Raritan Valley Elementary School in Hazlet, first graders and their teachers launched an initiative this year to use Google applications to support their educational goals. While the first graders were excited to use the Chromebooks for a new purpose, we as teachers looked for ways to use Google’s various applications to promote the New Jersey Student Learning Standards for English Language Arts.

Students created digital books and comic strips using Google Slides to create new stories and retell old ones. Google Slides turned out to be a great way to introduce students to working collaboratively by using the share option.

Google Drawings was another favorite application used in our first grades. Students now use it for various purposes in math and language arts. They created their own graphic organizers in Google Drawings, for example, to aid in reading comprehension.

Hazlet Mayor Sue Kiley helps a student get ready for Cookies and Chrome.

Smartboards introduced students to the basics of making an effective presentation—even at their young age. For example, students learned that when using contrasting colors their presentations could be read more easily by an audience. They also improved their speaking skills for a real purpose as they practiced presenting information with the smartboard.

That real purpose, “Cookies and Chrome,” was held on March 31. It was an opportunity for students to demonstrate their learning for a genuine audience. The event drew in many of Hazlet School District’s stakeholders, including the mayor, district administrators, first-grade parents and local media.

It was a huge success. As attendees to the “Cookies and Chrome” event walked around and questioned the first graders about the Google applications they were using in the classroom, the first graders were able to clearly explain all that they had accomplished throughout the year.  As students finished the “Chrome” portion of the event, the “Cookies” portion of the event took over.

Many students are exposed daily to technology at home and can benefit from the use of Google applications to broaden their technological horizons. As educators, we should create meaningful uses for technology in the classroom regardless of the age of our students.

Karen Dundas is a targeted reading/basic skills teacher at Raritan Valley Elementary School in Hazlet. She can be reached at kdundas@hazlet.org.

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