Top 10 Reasons to Use Technology During Primary Years - by Mr. C
Many have read the recent Huffington Post article - “10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12.” I’ve read some rebuttals and wanted to weigh in with some of my thoughts. I enjoyed reading Megan Egbert’s “10 Reasons I’ll Continue to Give My Children Handheld Devices” and that was the inspiration for drawing up my top 10. I’d love to see more educators jumping on the bandwagon and dismissing the propaganda from such articles like that in the Huffington post!
1. Living a Healthy Balanced Life
I put this first because this is the most important thing we can do to avoid all of the top 10 reasons to ban list! Living a healthy balanced life is something we need to explicitly teach & lead by example. My technology use has become more efficient & effective as result of my healthy diet, daily physical exercise & meditation. Many of the “10 reasons to ban” article stem from overuse of technology. Therefore, its important parents play an integral role in developing a balance of screen time versus play time. The ancient Greek idea of “everything in moderation” remains true and guides us now. Include your children in this process. When kids are involved in developing procedures & expectations, they take ownership & adhere to those agreements versus just being "told what to do!" Decide what rewards will be earned for following the expectations & the natural consequences for not following the expectations. Lastly, check out this awesome family media agreement form from Common Sense Media & see their entireparent media education website to help guide building a healthy balanced home life.
2. Forward Thinking
Think about where we are and how technology is changing the world we live in. Our kiddos will need a different skill set to survive in tomorrow’s world! We are preparing them for a world and a set of skills beyond our imagining. According to the video, “Did you know 3.0,” the top 10 jobs in demand today didn’t exist in 2004! Technology guru,Tom Whitby, reminds us to think about the skills needed for these jobs and what schools should be teaching: curating information, analyzing information, understanding information, communicating information in various forms, collaborating on information both locally and globally; and ultimately, creating information for the purpose of publishing and sharing. Technology has clearly become the best means of executing these skills. In many instances, its becoming the only way. Now, think about today's global workforce - industries, businesses, banking, writers, artists, and musicians - What is the tool they all use to effectively do their jobs? You guessed it - Technology.
3. Real Life Skills
As we think forward to the live’s our kiddos will lead, we see a different set of real life skills technology enables. Are we really going to ban the tools that our kids need to be successful in life? Really?! We know the formative years are most important to well-rounded learning. The formative years of teaching & modeling responsible & safe technology usage, allowing innovative & creative ideas to flourish, & teaching those crucial communication & collaboration skills, are equally important. Early intervention is the key to success in the primary years! We live in a different world and technology is an integral tool for simplifying many of life’s basics. Think about we all do in life on a day-to-day basis & for work. Our kids will need these skills to live in their world.
4. Communication & Collaboration
Technology provides an incredible platform to communicate & collaborate. There is a huge misconception that our kids will just be “out there on there own” with their eyes glued to the device. Truth be told, they’re writing blogs to change minds while commenting back and forth with each other. They’re creating clean energy digital posters with Glogster to raise awareness of air pollution to share with people around the world. They’re using Edmodo as a classroom home to generate rich discussion & find answers to each other’s questions. Just like we learn to communicate & collaborate face-to-face, we need to learn these skills in the virtual world.
5. Global Connections
Technology provides us with avenues to connect with the world. For example, publishing work via classroom websites and social media or connecting with students & communities around the world with a blog unit or a current events show. Our modern digital literacies allow us to connect with classrooms for units like these to make a difference, raise awareness, ask & seek answers to essential questions, problem solve, & the list goes on. Our devices make our world a much smaller place and we need them to make these global connections.
6. Motivation & Engagement
This is pretty simple - our kiddos love their devices and they’re motivated to learn with them. We have an obligation to know our students & teach them based on what motivates & engages them. Over the past 2 months of teaching with 1:1 with iPads, I’ve noticed engagement to be through the roof! Last year, I designed a PBL unit infused with technology. The results were amazing and the kids were engaged and motivated like I’ve never seen before. We have to leverage our student’s interest to help them learn & it is very clear devices are the #1 motivator.
7. Blended Learning
Technology allows us to extend the learning day beyond the school. For example, teachers are using Edmodo to “flip” their classroom and pre-teach important concepts through readings, videos, and various online activities. In turn, this is allowing more hands on experiences in the classroom versus the 20th century approach of "sit while the teacher lectures." Instead of a student sitting there bored while the teacher lectures, they can watch a pre-made mini-lesson at home the night before and come into school the next day to work on their own, with partners, or in a group. This allows the teacher to facilitate group work & dig deep into the critical thinking process with their students versus grazing the surface. Additionally, this gives students the chance to express their learning in a variety of ways that a classroom discussion doesn’t allow. For example, they can use the Explain Everything app to record an explanation to a math problem, post to Edmodo, & show the teacher & class exactly what their thought process was. Students can watch each other's videos and begin to learn from each other. When a teacher receives a pencil & paper math assignment, how do they know what the student was thinking? Blended classrooms are allowing for multiple forms of expression, a pillar of Universal Design in Learning (UDL). Lastly, the teacher can send feedback from the Explain Everything app on the fly. Teachers can be there for their students and give instant feedback and organize a digital “paper trail.” Pretty cool stuff!
8. Digital Citizenship & Literacy
Putting devices in the hands of our kids gives us opportunities to teach them how to use them safely & responsibly. Today’s internet is an online community & our kiddos need explicit instruction & direction to treat each other how we would in person. The social media age caught everyone off guard. Many parents were clueless to what was going on. Kids were joining Facebook & pretty much doing what they pleased. Enter teaching digital citizenship in schools! At my school, we take the time to teach digital citizenship with the help of Common Sense Media. We cover topics such as: internet safety, privacy & security, relationships & communication, cyberbullying digital footprint & reputation, self-image & identity, information literacy, and creative credit & copyright. We live in a new world that expects students to "develop proficiencies with tools of technology, build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally, design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes; manage, analyze and synthesize multiple stream of simultaneous information; and lastly, create critique, analyze and evaluate multimedia texts." Keep in mind our world has rapidly changed and will continue to do so, and education must change with it. In the words of Will Richardson, “you may not be swimming in the huge and ever quickly expanding sea of digital content and connections, but your kids are or soon will be!”
9. Customized Learning
Devices are creating classroom environments that allow students to learn the skills they need at an appropriate rate. This eliminates the “one size fits all” learning model & let’s each child spread their wings. We have the ability to differentiate, individualize, and meet the needs of all learners. We can collect valuable data to inform instruction leading to less time correcting papers and compiling data and more time analyzing that data to build customized plans for students. We’re not throwing whole group lessons out the window, rather working through workshop models to make sure each student is learning at their own pace. We’re using online leveled reading programs such as Raz Kids to check comprehension & administer running records. We’re using apps such asAddimals to teach essential addition strategies & collect data on the strategies they use, the ones they need help with, & allowing them to move through addition facts based on their performance. We’re using apps such as Showbie to collect and curate responses to student work. We’re using apps such as Explain Everything to assign mini-lessons to kids who are ready for the next step. This is freeing the teacher up to be a facilitator & help answer the questions our kids have. What a terrific use of time that truly impacts individual student learning for kids of all abilities!
10. Innovation & Creativity
Technology is clearly the catalysts of today’s innovation & creation in schools & the workforce. These are jobs that require our kids to be creative & innovative with the use of technology and are multiplying by the second! This field will continue to grow. Look at Google’s 20% time. Do you use GMail? You can thank 20% time for that. In short, 20% time allows Google employees to work on a passion project. It allows for their employees to be innovative & creative. Many teachers like myself are looking at creative ways to implement this strategy in their classroom and allow the kids to be creative using technology applications. Technology enables our kiddos to be innovative & creative in ways that were never possible & in a meaningful context. They’ll need to be contribute to the classroom & be apart of tomorrow’s workforce.