CM . . .
. Volume VIII Number 11 . . . . February 1, 2002
Computer Activities for the Cooperative Classroom is one of the few elementary computer activity books to deal with human interaction in the face of technology. Authors Linda Schwartz and Kathlene Willing blend the creative and cognitive into a useful set of cooperative learning activities suitable both for beginner and experienced elementary teachers. The purpose of the book is to provide examples of computer integrated, cooperative learning activities for K-6 teachers. Activities are comprehensively described and easy to follow, including information about technology, descriptions of cooperative learning connections, and actual assessment/evaluation forms. Activities have been shaped through authentic classroom experiences of integrating technology. The book is intended to support classroom instruction in a curriculum that is satiated with skills, concepts, and disciplines. The authors make sense out of computer integration in today's curriculum, and the activities blend well with current concepts of classroom instruction, making computer activities appear as natural as pen and paper activities.
Computer Activities for the Cooperative Classroom addresses major areas of technology implementation in a classroom-friendly manner. The book begins with a foundational chapter that supports teachers who are implementing educational change such as adding computer use to the curriculum. This chapter addresses incidentally a question that is on the minds of many teachers implementing computers: what do you do when students appear to be more tech-savvy than you? Teachers should focus on socially constructed learning activities in the classroom, and technological knowledge will grow in this environment. Chapter 1 introduces the nature of cooperative learning with computers. Chapter 2 focuses on assessment and evaluation models, including reproducible masters of example assessment tools. Chapter 3 explains the fundamentals of developing keyboarding skills. Chapter 4 presents integrated activities that target higher order thinking skills for the K-2, 3-4, and 5-6 levels. Chapter 5 features an example cooperative learning, medieval unit plan. Chapter 6 highlights incorporation of the Internet including guidelines for Internet use, Web Quests, and ways and means of dealing with Web information. Web resources are included in this chapter. The appendix contains a directory of exceptional software resources.
In scope, the book is limited to practical, current activities carried out in classrooms where the computer blends seamlessly into classroom practices. The variety of activities is balanced on a continuum from keyboarding to Internet. Schwartz and Willing also appear to have struck a balance between technophobic and tech-savvy teachers; however, some tech-savvy teachers may be left wanting for more activities. Perhaps the authors have a sequel edition in the offing.
The activities in this book are written for three levels, K-2, 3-4, and 5-6; however, the intent may not necessarily match the experience of students in a variety of schools. Some upper elementary students may find the exercises too easy for their level of computer sophistication, whereas younger students may find the activities too difficult depending on their background knowledge. Generally, activities appear to be most satisfying for students in grades 2-5. Teachers would need to be their own determinant of the level since technology access and background knowledge would play a greater part in determining the grade level for the activities.
The book has a colour photograph cover showing three students at work on the carpet, another posting their work, while a fifth student works on a computer in the background. This is representative of the activities within the book where learning is placed at the forefront of the activities with the computer blended effortlessly into those activities. The interior of the book contains a minimal amount of black and white illustrations and tables in favour of describing the activities. All in all, the book is economically produced.
Schwartz and Willing have practical backgrounds as computer resource teachers for producing this handy and interesting activity book. The text is written clearly, jargon free, and teacher- friendly. Directions are explicit and the content is accurate. Activities are classroom tested and are not likely to let teachers down.
Computer Activities for the Cooperative Classroom will be an excellent resource for all elementary teachers since anyone can use the activities and everyone, as the authors note, is expected to embrace current trends. This activity book is highly recommended for its practical applications and best practices approach.
E. Smith, Ph.D., currently on a full-time secondment from St. James-Assiniboia
School Division in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is teaching full time at the
Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba. She instructs teacher-education
courses in language arts, literacy across the content areas, art, music,
and drama education.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.