From kindergarten to the computer lab

Image: Holly Spraberry & Jashiryan Lacey — Jashiryan is working on a program called, “Study Island” and said, “I like this program because we get to play games and learn at the same time.”

Holly Spraberry & Jashiryan Lacey — Jashiryan is working on a program called, “Study Island” and said, “I like this program because we get to play games and learn at the same time.” (Cindy Sutherland)

For ten years Holly Spraberry has been teaching kindergarten at Stafford Elementary, until this year. She now teaches computer skills to kindergarten all the way up to the sixth grade. “I just love it. Not only do I get to teach kindergartners I also get to teach students in all of the grades. It is very rewarding and I love the challenge. We have always had the computer lab but we never had a certified teacher or an aide in the lab. I think this will be very beneficial to the students and they just love it.”

Spraberry has students in kindergarten, first grade and second grade twice a week in the lab, third grade and up come twice a week. Sixth grade students if in band only come once a week because of band class.

When students enter the lab the very first thing they are required to do is keyboarding. They practice for about five to ten minutes on the keyboard. “When I met with the junior high and high school technology teachers they kept saying, keyboarding, keyboarding, you need to focus on keyboarding. Keyboarding is like handwriting was a long time ago, now a days keyboarding is just as important. If you know the keyboarding skills you can type faster, send your email out quicker and get your communication done quicker.”

Spraberry continued, “Kindergartners are learning where the keys are on the keyboards, how to enter and back space, how to use the mouse-just how to do the basics on the computer.”

After practicing on the keyboard the class always has an assignment ready for them to work on. Sometimes it is the “Accelerated Reader” program, where they read a short story, take a test on what they have just read and earn points on it. Or they use the “Success Maker-CCC” program that focuses on math and reading.

Another program that is quite popular with the students is “Tween Time”. Tween Time is free and on the internet. Older students can interact with news stories. The website is Holly explained, "It is like a daily newspaper for third grade and up. There are news articles. They also have another one that is “Teen Time” for high school students. It gives the students the ability to come in and read a story they are interested in and then respond to it. They can respond to other students in other schools and can post it on “Tween Tribune”. The responses to be posted go into an account and I approve it or one of the other teachers approve it and then they post it live. Other students can then reply to their post or to the same news story. The best thing about this is the news articles are checked for educational content and are screened for inappropriate content before they are posted. It is teaching them reading, communication, keyboarding skills and social studies. What I like about this is there are articles on sports, music, pop culture or anything that students might be interested in."

When asked how she liked going from kindergarten to the computer lab Ms. Spraberry said, “I get to stretch myself as a teacher from the very basic kindergarten skills to the more difficult things that the older kids can do. It makes every day interesting and I am enjoying this immensely, it is really, really a good fit for me and for the students. I love hearing the students ask, ‘Are we coming to you today? Do we get to come to computer class today?’ I just love it.”