Digital Driving Lessons for 3rd Graders



Slice of Life Challenge Day 8





I have the honor and pleasure of working with a multi-age 3rd & 4th grade class of brilliant students. They are bright, talented, and immensely inquisitive. 


But they are too young to drive.


Or so I thought. The truth is, many of them are far more proficient at driving than I am. Google “driving” that is. 


At the outset of the year I received an email notifying me that each of my students had been assigned their own Google Drive. I honestly wasn’t quite sure what that meant, and in the hustle and bustle of the first few weeks of school, I left the message sitting in my gmail inbox.


Fast forward to February, and our class was investigating the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement. I’m not the most tech-savvy guy in our building, but I am always trying new ways to utilize tech meaningfully. As students were creating biographical presentations on the heroes they selected, I had the notion of creating a visual project board with the use of QR codes. For those who have used glogster in the past, or thinglink now, our creation would be similar.


And that is where our driving lessons came in.


We’ve run into some challenges uploading homemade movies into our class dropbox account. Apparently when we enable camera uploads, EVERY camera roll linked to our class dropbox dumps ALL OF THEIR PHOTOS into our file. Automatically.


After spending way too many periods frustrated with trying to get urls assigned to our reports, videos, and music links (so we could transform them into QR codes), I had a tech specialist come to visit our classroom.


Kelly was amazing. One of he first things I learned is that there are 3 different versions of Google Drive, and each works somewhat differently. Perhaps everyone else knows this already, but remember, I don’t play a tech guru on TV. There is an app version of Google Drive, an IOS version, and the desktop version. We weren’t able to generate urls thru the app version, but we could access the desktop version on our tablets through a browser.


Is anyone else getting a headache trying to follow this?


I had two other staff members sitting with me, as we huddled around our iPads, listening to Kelly explain Google Drive to the class. We absorbed some of what she taught us, albeit slowly, but we were learning to drive.


The kids, on the other hand, vacuumed up her instruction voraciously. Intuitively. 


In a few moments, they knew how to “drive”. Ready to hit the road, so to speak. Licensed to utilize the powers of Google Drive to organize their research and work collaboratively on their projects. While we drove forward hesitantly with our learning permits. With a foot on the brake, we pulled out of park and began to drive. With more trepidation than confidence, we experimented with some of the capabilities that Google Drive offers.


The students were on the highway, and we were on the shoulder; but we were all driving forward.


Our biography projects are wrapping up. The kids created a pic collage of their heroes, from Martin Luther King to Ruby Bridges. From The Little Rock Nine, to Daisy Bates. Around each collage is a series of 5 QR codes that the students generated. Each student utilized codes to embed their essay, a video link, interesting facts, a musical connection, and their own homemade movie explaining the lasting impressions that their character left on them. With Digital Learning Day fast upon us (March 13th), as well as our Open House around the corner, we wanted to display the presentations up on the hallway walls. They are available for students and guests to come by and scan with their tablets and devices, so they can share in our learning. 


The lessons gleaned, and creations made, by our young digital drivers.

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15 thoughts on “Digital Driving Lessons for 3rd Graders

  1. Love it! My students have their licenses and we are highway certified. Great language and comparisons here — sometimes it’s tricky to navigate those roads.

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  2. Kudos to you for trying out something new and for employing a great metaphor throughout your post. As for Google drive, I’m still in driver’s ed.

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  3. You’re not alone! Our students use Google Drive too, but honestly I don’t get it. They are so savvy! I know when I need to “get it” our techie person will come rescue me too. It makes me think of the saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

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  4. Yes, I had a headache as I tried to navigate the manipulations of all the tech you described. I don’t think I’m ready for a learner’s permit yet. So hats off to you on the shoulder and your kids who have just finished their first Grand Prix. Loved your play with the words!

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  5. Oh, so funny! I love your play on words throughout, and your title– of course– reeled me in! We are in our first full year of 1-1 iPads, and I’ve learned a lot, but there is NO DOUBT that I still run into snags, forget how I did “that thing the last time I did it” and have to learn all over again, and sometimes waste valuable time trying to make the technology work! For me, technology is truly one of those things where “you can’t live with it, and you can’t live without it!” Thanks for a great post! 🙂

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  6. I’m wrth everyone here, especially Arjeha! Too many times have my own children rescued me from a near “collision” – they drove in and knew what was needed, got it done and left me in their dust. Love this post.

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  7. Oh “The Drive.” I just pretend like I know what’s happening and nod along. 🙂 Seriously, there is so much to absorb in the world of technology, I think we as a generation that didn’t have this, have to be really forgiving of ourselves and approach it as learners. I always watch “tools and tech” for about a year before I try it out. That’s just how I approach it as a learner. Kudos to you for jumping in!

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  8. I admit that I am totally lost. It makes me wonder why my principal entrusted me with a Smart Board in the years before I retired. Don’t think I could keep up with things anymore.

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  9. Greg, Great post. I have student experts in each of my classes. They are great chauffeurs–like driving Mrs. Winterstein and confused classmates. So many great possibilities! I wish you Godspeed on your learning journey!

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  10. loved this line
    The kids, on the other hand, vacuumed up her instruction voraciously. Intuitively.

    I, of course, need a tech guy right by my side, all day long. My husband only gives me one question a day.

    I had no idea there were 3 versions of ‘drive’. I only have one and it is a giant mess. xo nanc

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  11. Google Drive is wonderful for my third graders too. Right along with them, I’m learning to “DRIVE” too. We’ve had our glitches, but I see them writing more. It’s my professional development plan for the year. It’s gone in so many different directions that it will be hard to document.

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  12. Yes–absolutely rings true. Sometimes I think we (adults) want to understand things in connection with what came before it–and not for what it uniquely is. For instance, do we see a laptop as a typewriter with a television screen? Do we see an iPad as laptop minus the keyboard? Do we see a Chromebook as just lighter laptop? My point is–sometimes our past knowledge and experiences preclude our ability to move forward at the rate we’d like.

    I remember the faculty meeting where we tried to explain why printing from an iPad or the Cloud isn’t really the point of the device or technology…

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  13. I bow down to you right now! I am a novice on drive. Had no idea there are three different drives! Your willingness to learn (and be taught) is a sign of great teacher that you are! What a wonderful project parents and other visitors will be able to see when they come to school!

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  14. This post rang so true for me, and I’m sure many teachers who experiment with digital projects. We are learning right along with our students, who sometimes speed ahead of us. Love that you pushed through frustration with a new tool to success!

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