I have had a great opportunity to introduce the laptops to a couple of year 5 groups this week. My commission was to teach them how to search effectively using search engines, and I thought I would extend the operation and also get them signed up for a Delicious account, and show them how to use it, because really, it won't take that long to teach how to search, will it?
The first group was my pilot group - we had to learn about handling of the laptops as it was their first time, for some it was their first time on Macbooks, and for some it was their first time with a laptop mouse. So we had a bit of familiarisation to undergo, the warning bells should have been quite loud at this point - but I ignored them...and pushed on.
I felt that if we are going to be searching for web sites, the students need somewhere to put them when they find them, so we needed a Delicious account first. This would have been good for a year 7 or 8 group, but for year 5 - this was a problematic exercise. They are not digitally literate - they do not understand how to fill in an online form, they do not understand password and user names, (and that they need to be different) they do not see or read the instructions for themselves, many did not have their own email account and they really have no clue. I severely over estimated what they would be capable of. The exercise was not a complete loss - everyone learnt something, (especially me) and all became a little more familiar with the Macbook. About 90% of the class managed to open a Delicious account after 40 minutes and alot of help.
I was able to follow the lesson up with a second lesson, and I asked them - who remembers their user name and password for Delicous - about one third put their hand up. So we focused on Internet searching. The students really got a lot out of the video - "Web search Strategies in plain English" We then practised our newly learnt skills on Google and other search engines.
Today I had an opportunity to teach the same lesson with a different class - I ditched Delicious and we had a much more productive time of it with them experimenting with the search strategies they had learnt. This class was a bit different as it wasn't their very first time on the Macbooks, and they had got over the orientation dilemma. We (the class teacher and I) are going to give Delicious a go in the next couple of days with this class... second time I will be a little better prepared for the possible delays, problems and just skill level of the students I am dealing with. It has been a very steep learning curve this week!