When I think back to when I was in elementary school, I make very few connections to school and technology. As a matter of fact, the most exciting technology experience I can remember having was getting to print a cover page on an old dot-matrix printer (Is that what they were called???) for a report I wrote on Italy. I remember it having some kind of border, which I think was a vine, and a wine bottle on the front. I thought that was SO great!!!
Now, I watch my 9-, 10-, and 11-year old students operate laptops and iPads as though they have been using technology for years! Actually, now that I think about it, they probably have! My 3-year old nephews can take my phone, find my apps, and pick out Angry Birds without an ounce of help from me!
We can always count on increased engagement when we add the component of technology to an activity. The best part, though, is that not only does using technology engage students, but it also helps prepare them for the real world! Our world has some type of new technology coming out every time we turn around, so it's important that our students get the opportunity to interact with technology in schools.
So, what do we do with those iPads and laptops? The students use them to...
- Publish their Writer's Workshop stories
- Research topics, both that are assigned and that are student selected
- Complete Web Quests on different Social Studies topics (immigration, slavery, government)
- Interact with books, either by listening to a book being read on You Tube or through reading a book on a slideshow (Great way to help differentiate for students who need more support with reading)
- Create Power Points to demonstrate their learning of a topic
- Practice skills through interactive games
Of course, anytime your students do use technology, I always recommend you talk with them about appropriate and inappropriate uses of the technology before they use it. We have the students help us decide what should happen when students abuse their technology privileges (as well as define what abusing their privileges actually is) and have the consequences set up ahead of time.