When Should We Use Technology with Students?

Today’s Contributor: My name is Sarah Price and I am a 5th grade ELA teacher as well as the Campus Innovation Connector at Barton Hills Elementary. Like all of us,  much of my practice this school year has been about recovering from the chaos of the last two years and helping my students do the same.

One of many questions that I have been grappling with this year is, now that we can teach in person again, WHEN should we use technology with students? Before the pandemic, I had been working hard to move toward Blended learning in my classroom as a path toward personalization. The pandemic, of course, forced everything online. So when we came back this fall, I found the students and I both needed a reset. We needed to ask, when should the devices remain closed?

After a year back I have found the following considerations guide my choices. For each, I’ll share an example of when I’ve chosen to have students work digitally.

Does technology help me personalize learning?

Yes, students are working on a playlist or menu with digital options or students are using a district-provided online system that is adaptive to their learning needs.

Does using technology help students CREATE content and collaborate?Yes, students are working and collaborating on a project like a Children’s Book for Kinder students. One pandemic silver lining is that kids’ technology skills are excellent and they generally don’t need to be taught to use the technology, we can jump right into creation.  Here’s an example of an about the author page from a collaborative book.

Does technology help students think about their thinking and share it with others?

Yes, an example might be a need-to-know list for a PBL or a learning reflection that they share together. This is an example of a Need to Know list.

Can I use technology to hold resources for students and families?

Yes, Kids and families have to come to need and expect that resource materials and notes be held digitally. BLEND continues to be the homepage for all things. This has been especially beneficial when COVID absences are still common. This is the home page of our class.

If using technology does not support any of these goals, we close the Chromebooks.

As I am sure all other teachers have found, digital distraction continues to be a challenge. Thank you for existing Go Guardian!! One thing I have realized this year though is that if many kids are distracted when they are working on their Chromebooks, the activity likely doesn’t support my goals for technology. That’s when we get out the paper.

When I reread this post, the guidelines seem simple. However,  it has taken this year back in the classroom to realize what the productive use of technology really needs to look like for me and my students. Next year will be a breeze, right?

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