Integrating Technology Into Your Immersion Classroom

The ACIE Newsletter, December 1999, Vol.3, No. 1

by Terri Geffert, Second Grade Teacher, and Laura McManus, First Grade Teacher, Bridgewater Elementary School, Northfield, Minnesotat

Compañeros, the Spanish partial immersion program of the Northfield Public Schools, is housed grades one through five at Bridgewater Elementary School. This year at Bridgewater, eleven classrooms—three of them Spanish immersion classrooms—are designated “integrated technology classrooms.” This designation means that these classrooms are equipped with four computers, a digital camera, a video camera, and a portable TV/VCR unit. Teachers in these classrooms incorporate a station model in their instruction to best utilize the technology and maximize student learning. The school district is monitoring the progress of the children in these classrooms in hope that the classrooms will become models for future expansion of technology use in the district.

The philosophy behind these classrooms originated with Joan Riedl’s book, The Integrated Technology Classroom. Riedl’s teaching utilizes learning stations— “areas of the classroom in which four to six students work together to accomplish a specific learning task” (Reidl, 1995, p. 18). It incorporates “in varying degrees teacher guidance; instructional technology applications; small group, teacher-facilitated discussions; and parent assistance” (p. 18). Below, we describe our initial year of using the “integrated technology” model in our first- and second-grade immersion classrooms.

Some of the technology materials are not available in Spanish. In cases where the software, internet sites, or videos are in English, we still explain the station in Spanish and design any accom-panying worksheets in Spanish. All the stations that don’t involve English software are done in Spanish.

First Grade
In my first grade partial Spanish immersion classroom, I (Laura McManus) have two classes of 27 students, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. I have approximately two hours with each class to teach math, science, and social studies. Monday and Tuesday are whole group instruction days. I spend an hour on math and an hour on social studies or science. Children basically do the same activities at the same time. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, I spend half an hour on whole-group math, and the rest of the day in stations. Up to seven children at a time may work at a given station.

Below is an example of an outline of six stations that the children rotate through over the course of the three days.

Station 1: Computers
Students use the program KidPix to make different combinations of green and red apples that add up to ten.

Station 2: Seat work
Students work independently on some apple addition and subtraction worksheets (possibly assisted by a parent or college student volunteer).

Station 3: Teacher Station
Students get a lesson on centimeters and inches, practice measuring around apples, placing them in order, and are actively practicing the language involved in completing these tasks.

Station 4: Pan Balance
Students work together using a pan balance to arrange a basket of apples from lightest to heaviest (possibly assisted by a parent or college student volunteer).

Station 5: Games
Students play with apple cut-out cards which are numbered 1-20. The children each lay down a card, and the person with the highest card takes all.

Station 6: Listening
Students listen to my tape recorded voice giving instructions about how many apples to color red, green, or yellow on a numbered paper.

My first graders soon become quite independent, and I enjoy the time working and conversing with one small group at a time. I feel it gives me the chance to focus in better on individual children’s language and academic skills. The kids love it!

Second Grade
In the second grade, I (Terri Geffert) also use stations for math, science, social studies, and health to work with my two classes. In math, I have four stations each week. Students complete one station each day during a twenty-minute period with Friday being a “catch-up” day. I divide the class into four groups (six to seven students each), and the groups rotate through the stations, using a rotating wheel on the white-board as a guide to where their group needs to be. Station time is usually followed by a forty-minute whole-group lesson. Using the computer to write and illustrate a math problem, create a computer slide show, or work with math software is always one of the four math stations. Other stations for math might include playing a math game, collecting data for a class graph, completing a math-related art activity, or working in a small group with the teacher.

I follow a similar four-group rotation for science, social studies, and health stations. However, I do not use these stations daily as I do with math. I place stations into my lesson plans when the content seems most appropriate for a station model. Here is an example of a station lesson plan for a part of a weather unit:

Station 1: Computers
Students use KidPix to draw and label a model of the water cycle.

Station 2: Video
Students watch a short video of me teaching a lesson about cloud types (the VCR is a great way for you to be in two places at once!) They then work as a group using the video and a cloud poster to identify various clouds on a worksheet.

Station 3: Temperature Game
Students play a temperature “match mine” game (High, 1993, p. 42). Each partner has a file folder with seven pockets for each day of the week and seven cards with thermometers showing various temperatures. One partner says the day of the week and chooses a card for that day’s temperature, placing the card in the appropriate pocket. The other partner must listen to his/her partner and try to place his/her temperature cards in the correct pockets.

Station 4: Teacher Station
Students use thermometers and containers of ice water, hot water, and warm water. They make predictions about what the water temperatures will be in Fahrenheit and Celsius and then check their predictions.

I find that stations are a great way to make the best use of materials that are in short supply, such as games, manipulatives, and science equipment. I also find that changing to a station model does not require entirely rewriting the curriculum I have previously used. Often my students complete activities similar to those done in previous years, but they complete them using technology as a tool or in a small group rather than as an entire class.

We are excited that this year the third-grade immersion teacher has an integrated technology classroom for the first time. We are looking forward to sharing ideas and building on our first year’s experience with this model.

Riedl, Joan. (1995). The Integrated Technology Classroom: Building Self-Reliant Learners. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
High, Julie. (1993). Second Language Learning Through Cooperative Learning. Capistrano, CA: Kagan Cooperative Learning.


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