Every day in the world of IT and indeed education a new and improved app, website or learning tool is developed which promises the earth moon and stars. Promises to improve literacy and numeracy or develop fluency in the children. For me as an educator I am happy when something manages to engage a child and allow them to become the drivers behind their own learning. Fostering a child’s inquisitive nature or allowing them to build on their own previous knowledge or interest is an important strategy in keeping children engaged in their own education.
There are many things which could be used to develop natural curiosity which can lead to learning opportunities. Many of these newly developed apps and programmes are great at doing this however I feel it is important not to forget about the older tools that we have at our disposal, newer does not necessarily mean better. Over the last year with my 6th class I have found that the most powerful tool being used in the classroom is in fact Google Images. I have used it to grab the attention of the children and allow them to steer the direction where the lesson may go. I have used it in many subjects from history to geography to art. It is here however that I must add a health warning, although all schools have filters on their internet it is very important that you yourself have done your research and tell the children what to type into the search bar so you can be sure of the images which will be brought up.
As a lesson opener for European landmarks I got the children to search Google images for European Landmarks and pick one which they found interesting and then to find out as much about this landmark as possible. What was interesting here was that none of the landmarks they picked would have been the ones I would have chosen for them to learn about. The images captured their attention and as a result they were much more invested in their own learning. Below are some of the fabric and fibre art work they did to accompany the projects also completed on the landmark.
Another lesson we used this methodology in was an integrated Science and Art one, here the children were learning about the solar system and its planets and stars etc. We searched for The Solar System on Google images and used the images we found as a look and respond lesson. The children gave their opinions on the pictures and using their previous knowledge discussed if they felt this was a true representation of the solar system or an artist’s impression. From here the children used these pictures to draw or paint their own Solar System.
Again I used Google Images for a lesson on painting and drawing flowers the children were asked to draw or paint a picture of flowers. Each child then looked at the images of flowers available and drew their own version. The thousands of ideas and pictures that are available allowed the children to appreciate the various forms art can take and allowed them to be extremely creative in fact many children looked at photos of gardens and then from this did their own creative art piece. The results were fantastic and no two pictures were the same.
I really love the imagination Google images gives to a lesson and the fact that such a resource is available to us literally at our finger tips. As I said it is a tool which we are all aware of and use in our own teaching everyday but sometimes we need a reminder of just how good these resources can be if used to their full potential.