Technology in 5th Grade Humanities

Author: Patrick Baker  • 

Technology happens seamlessly in my 5th grade Humanities class. It’s a natural part of our day, therefore, the students, as well as myself, have a harder time distinguishing “when technology is being used”.

Here are some examples of ways I incorporate technology into our day:

At the beginning of the school year, I give the students a multiple intelligence test to see where they fall. This is done through a site that calculates the results and presents them as a pie graph. It’s a great way for students to visually see their strengths. This is their first time taking a “quiz” online.

As soon as a student is admitted to Allen Academy they receive access to our online history resource, History Alive. It’s pretty much a textbook online with extra advantages. For example, it can read out loud to the students, vocabulary words are highlighted and may be clicked on for definition and it has an interactive notebook where students can answer questions and receive teacher feedback. Students use their accounts almost daily throughout the school year.

Students are constantly using the internet to research topics we are learning. Either through: youtube, TED talks, Wikipedia (as a base) or specific sites I provide them with which are targeted to the given topic. Some of the sites are interactive and allow students to play with the content. Students often use technology to show their learning. For example through: Google Presentations, imovies (Earth Day videos), Google Maps (Slavery in the Americas), editing photos on, making videos.

Throughout the year students work in different Book Clubs. They meet regularly to discuss what they have read and their thoughts. We record their meetings on a device for them to see themselves interacting with their peers as well as to show what a strong discussion could look like.

In 5th grade, the students are given the opportunity to explore their passion. Students often use the internet to explore videos, articles, blogs, TED Talks and even Skype mentors. To showcase their learning some students created websites, blogs, Google presentations, videos, animation…

The way we use technology most in my class is through the Google Apps. We have a shared calendar, a shared folder with photos, they reflect on units & experiences through Google Forms, they write their papers on Google Docs, which is shared with me and a peer (their critical friend) for comments and suggestions. Students enjoy reading each other’s pieces and hearing feedback. Students were able to deliver their Student-Led Conference in April by sharing their Drive with their parents and talking about what they have learned and setting goals.

I am looking forward to adding more technology to our 5th grade curriculum. It would be great to have students create an account on Soundcloud and record their voices to check for fluency and expression. Creating an archive of all their digital learning through a digital portfolio or a blogfolio would be great as well!

– Nicole Engstrom 5th Grade Language Arts and Humanities Teacher

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