Technology has always been a vital tool for me in the classroom. I believe that technology has created a learning environment for children that is more open, creative and fun than ever before. Although there are articles that say technology use in the classroom is a good thing, it can be hard to decide what kind of technology has the capacity to work well in your classroom. “One tool today’s teachers are encouraged to incorporate as early as possible into the 21st century learners’ curriculum is technology.” (Ntuli, E., & Kyei-Blankson, L., 2012, p.2). Children in kindergarten and younger grades will be using technology that is very different from older children. Technology could also be a wasted resource depending on how curriculum is planned or what the personality of the students are.
My favourite technology tool to use in kindergarten classrooms was SMART boards . This innovative piece of technology looks like a typical whiteboard but it can do so much more. When I used it in the classroom, I would write the morning message on the board for circle time. A child would be able to come up and use their finger to follow along and read the message along with the rest of the class. It was a great way to help children sound out words and be interactive in the reading process! The SMART board was also used by children to participate in group play session using educational games. Children were constantly engaged and active while they played with the SMART board. The possibilities are endless with this fantastic classroom tool.
Another great tool that I found was the most useful was a simple digital camera. Children used the digital camera on a daily basis to document their projects, friends and environment. I also found it to be an amazing tool for my own documentation of learning around the classroom. It was a quick way to take a snapshot of projects and helped to remind me of the various events that took place throughout the day. It was also a useful tool since other children or educators were able to take it and document things that I may have missed throughout the day.
Projectors are a tool that that can add valuable media to a lesson. I especially found this tool to be useful when teaching in a grade 2 classroom. Although it can seem as though using videos can be a bad thing, a study found that when used correctly videos and media can truly add to the learning experience.”Results showed children who received the media supplement made greater gains on letter recognition, phonics, and print and story concepts.” (Blackwell, C. K., Lauricella, A. R., & Wartella, E., 2014, p.85). Children were engaged while attending to my lessons. I was also able to give the children visual and musical examples of concepts being covered in class. After showing the class a short song on plural nouns, I had children singing the words for the rest of the day.
iPad‘s were of course going to make it in this blog on useful technology. Many of the schools I have worked at in the past have been slowly integrating iPad’s into many of the classrooms for children to use. With a rich library of educational apps it is hard to ignore the benefits of including this tool in the classroom. Games are always a popular choice in the classroom and playing games has more benefits for children than you would first think.”Similar to project-based learning, game-based learning puts students in authentic situations that require them to think critically about solving problems .”(Farber, M., 2016, p.37). Children were always very engaged in activities or games with this tool. iPad’s also gave the children great literacy experiences with apps that had guided reading at appropriate reading levels for each child. Although I did enjoy the interaction children had with the iPad’s there were a few negatives to using this technology in the classroom:
1. There were never enough iPad’s for all of the children to use and it caused disagreements .
2. Learning experiences were mostly solitary.
3. If using iPad’s it is always important to know what apps the children are playing. Many games claiming to be educational are the opposite and it is up to the discretion of the educator to know what should be available to the children.
My final technology tool which I found worked well in the classroom is the computer. While working in classrooms I saw computers used for group play, as a resource for finding information and as a creative outlet for making things such as Wordles. Most effective was the computers use as an aid for students who had difficulties writing and using fine motor skills. A child who would become frustrated writing on paper became empowered on the computer and he was able to write using the computer as a tool . Like with the iPad, it is important to remember to monitor how the computer is being used and if it is constructive. I also found it important to be wary of disagreements between children as most classrooms only have access to one or two computers.
I hope that my experiences with technology have given you a better idea of which tools you want to incorporate in your environment. There is no perfect tool for everybody and I believe that it is important to find what works best to your teaching style and children. Good luck!
Blackwell, C. K., Lauricella, A. R., & Wartella, E. (2014). Factors influencing digital technology use in early childhood education. Computers & Education, 77, 82-90. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2014.04.013
Farber, M. (2016). Gamify your classroom. The Education Digest, 81(5), 37-42. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1754113535?accountid=13631
(all photographs used come from Pixabay a non-copyright, free image user)