Mrs. Farber and I are aware of the many sides to the controversy of technology in primary and kindergarten classrooms and believe technology applications should be among the many tools at teachers’ disposal to offer children meaningful learning opportunities. At the same time, children need to learn to use technology in the same way they learn everything else- in their own time and at their own pace. They need time and access to develop the comfort, knowledge, and skills for using a variety of technology applications before they can use them independently or for a prescribed purpose.
Apps and technology alone, without teacher direction and curriculum goals, will not magically improve test scores or students' writing levels. There is a lot of thought in the way that technology is incorporated into our classrooms. Our favourite apps aren't button pushing apps that help students memorize math facts or sight words. They are apps that if used properly show student thinking. They are apps that allow our students freedom and creativity to show what they know. Does that mean we never play games? No, but we use those educational thinking games to introduce the children to basic computer skills such as navigating a page, using a cursor or turning off an application.
In our classrooms the technology stations are often content creation stations, which means students use their creativity and knowledge to produce something that shows their learning. We try to select apps or online sites that can be used for different purposes, such as a whiteboard app or Book Creator. Some students choose to use paper and pencil instead of technology to show their learning. The Chrome Books and iPads are just tools, the same as paper and pencil.
Educational technology is here to stay. Over a decade of research has documented the effect of appropriate use of technology in educational settings. These studies provide compelling evidence that computer use can have a major, positive impact on children’s social, emotional, language, and cognitive development (Shade 1996; Haugland 2000; Van Scoter, Ellis, & Railsback 2001). The full potential of technology’s tools is only realized, however, when they are used effectively and in ways that connect meaningfully to the ongoing curriculum of the classroom and support creativity and critical thinking (Bergen 2000). Mrs. Farber and I strive to expose children to developmentally appropriate, challenging, creative, and collaborative uses of technology in ways that promote learning and social interaction so that our students will become confident and skilled users of technology as they progress in their schooling and throughout life.