Technology Instruction at Home
- Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Technology is all around us. It drives our culture, industry, and education. Gaining and then instilling the proper perspective regarding technical goals and practices should be a top concern as we homeschool.
Ultimately, we are responsible for our children, and technology instruction should be taught at an early age in a safe learning environment. Children learn about technology easily and probably already know a lot of basic computer skills, so we need to fill in any gaps, as well as show our children that we feel these concepts are important and worth learning. Start now with a firm understanding of technology to help them be more confident and successful in life.
There are many ways to teach your child about technology as you homeschool. As you begin instructing your child concerning computers, consider the amount of time that you have for each subject and incorporate technology instruction appropriately. Take a few moments to consider how often you would like to teach technology. You could decide to dedicate one day a week to this subject area or maybe include it in your curriculum every day for a month. It could even be an incentive or a motivating topic that encourages your child.
Choose a time of day that works best for you and your child. You may even want to tackle a large project that would take a few days to complete. Teaching your child technology does not need to take away from the other subjects that you are teaching. The great thing about teaching technology is the fact that you can integrate technology skills into your current curriculum. Following are just some of the ways you could use technology when teaching your current curriculum.
-Use a word processor for a spelling test.
-Listen to a Bible story online.
-Research a current science topic using the Internet.
-Use Google Earth to locate certain countries around the world.
-Using a word processor or spreadsheet, design a word search by creating a table.
-Read a book online.
-Play math games online.
National Educational Technology Standards
Begin by brainstorming and making a list of information you would like your child to know about computers and technology. The National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS) could guide you as you select topics and activities. The NETS are similar to other national and state learning standards and are used to show what your student should know concerning technology. Become familiar with these standards, and identify what your child needs to learn. Technology has become a huge part of our lives, and these six standards could help you pinpoint any gaps in your child’s technology knowledge: (1) Creativity and Innovation, (2) Communication and Collaboration, (3) Research and Information Fluency, (4) Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making, (5) Digital Citizenship, and (6) Technology Operations and Concepts.
Even with little or no technology background, you can facilitate technical learning. Prepare for the technology activity when you have a few minutes to think about it, and plan using the NETS, books, and online resources. There are many computer books available to help you, as well as many free resources online that can be located using Google search engine terms such as “introduction to computers site:edu.”
Once you select a topic, decide on which activity or activities will best teach related skills to your child. Write a list of everything your child will do on a piece of paper or poster board and display the list in your classroom area. As you complete each task, place a check mark next to it or cross it out. This simple tool can help your child know exactly what is expected, and he or she will also feel a sense of accomplishment when the task has been completed successfully.
Internet Safety is a great topic with which to launch your technology instruction. This concept pertains to the fifth National Educational Technology Standard for Students, Digital Citizenship, which reads as follows: “Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.” In addition to motivating legal and ethical behavior on the part of our children, we want them to be safe. Following are some activities and ideas that you could use to integrate or teach this standard.
As an introduction to netiquette, explain that taking precautions when using technology is a means of protection. Be sure to point out to your child that every click is potentially dangerous when surfing the web. Depending on the age of your child, you could discuss the effects of what could happen if he uses inappropriate behavior when using chat rooms, email, instant messaging, or video conferencing. If he shares personal information, such as his real name, password, address, phone number, or other identifiable personal information, it could result in abduction or other harm. Furthermore, tell your child that once information is posted on the Internet, such as on a blog or a social networking site (Facebook or Xanga), it is very difficult or impossible to remove it. Make sure your child realizes that many people, both now and in the future, will see the information he posts.
When accessing the Internet, I recommend that you use web-filtering software/service or an appliance such as those described on these websites: http://www.netnanny.com/,http://www.cyberpatrol.com/, or http://www.cybersitter.com/. Supervise your child closely when using the Internet, and using language he can comprehend fully, clearly tell him exactly how to practice Internet safety.
You may want to consider installing keylogging software or hardware that records every keystroke your child makes on the keyboard. This does not necessarily need to be used as a reprimand but rather as an instructional tool to help your child make better decisions in the future. Parents should not promote an adversarial environment between themselves and their children but rather should cultivate an attitude of loving guidance and correction.
Here are some great sites with Internet safety songs that introduce your child to being a good cyber citizen while staying smart when working online. Your child could learn the song and sing it to you or another family member.
National Crime Prevention Council—McGruff’s “Internet Safety Song”
“The SafeKids Online Song”
Listed below are a few online games that your child could use to learn more about Internet safety. Preview the sites and choose a game that would be best for your child. When playing these interactive games, your child will learn about computer viruses, netiquette, email, and more.
McGruff' Internet Safety
Give your children specific do’s and don’ts to follow by using an Internet Safety Contract. Create your own contract with guidelines designed to uphold your family’s standards, or use a contract found online. Both you and your children should read and sign it, and then hang it next to the computer. A sample contract can be found online at http://www.safekids.com/family-contract-for-online-safety. Once again, strive to establish a cooperative, instructional attitude with your children. We want their use of technology to be safe and creative, not repressed or legalistic.
Free Software Downloads
There are several free word-processing, presentation, and spreadsheet programs, similar to Microsoft Office, and one of them is called OpenOffice. Yes, it is free and can be downloaded and installed on your computer from http://www.openoffice.org/. The word processor is called OpenOffice Writer and is similar to Microsoft Word. The multimedia presentation software is called OpenOffice Impress and is similar to Microsoft PowerPoint. The spread sheet program is called OpenOffice Calc and is similar to Microsoft Excel. When working with OpenOffice software, you can open files created using Microsoft Office. You are also able to create files in the OpenOffice software and then save files using Microsoft’s format. Manywebsites explain how to use thisfree software, such as In Pictures(http://inpics.net/) or Tutorials for OpenOffice (http://www.tutorialsforopenoffice.org/).
Maintain a safe environment for your child by securing the information stored on your computer and computer devices. Each computer and technology device has different equipment and technologies, so here are a few items to consider when keeping your information safe:
• Think about anything on your computer that you want to keep secure from malicious hackers.
• Secure private information by using encryption, and remember to back up your data.
• You may need to install a firewall, anti-virus software, or anti-spyware software.
• Use strong passwords that include letters, numbers, and special characters.
• In some cases, you may want to use encrypted drives for computers that contain sensitive information.
Have fun instructing your child about technology.
Holly Poteete is the founder and president of Living Water Homeschool Cooperative and currently homeschools her two children. The Computer Lab Teachers Survival Guide: K-6 Lessons for the Whole Year, Second Edition was released in January 2010. Her newest book, Kids, Computers and Learning: An Activity Guide for Parents, was released in June 2010. http://www.hollypoteete.com/
Copyright, 2011. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse®Magazine, Spring 2011.
Visit The Old Schoolhouse® at www.TheHomeschoolMagazine.com to view a full-length sample copy of the print magazine especially for homeschoolers. Click the graphic of the moving computer monitor on the left. Email the Publisher at Publisher@TheHomeschoolMagazine.com.
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