By Aimee Sawyer, Product Marketing Manager at Khan Academy Kids and former preschool teacher
Technology in the classroom has changed so much in the last few years, especially for our youngest learners. Not too long ago, we would have been shocked to see kids in preschool or Kindergarten classes with 1:1 devices. Classrooms used to have a single desktop computer that could only be accessed during center time. Nowadays, technology is embedded in all instruction. Kids must know how to use tech in order to complete their school work on any given day—it’s essentially a prerequisite skill.
For most kids, this isn’t a concern. Most are introduced to technology from a very early age, and they love it! They use it at home, at school, and everywhere in between. This can lead to conflicting feelings…we want kids to have those prerequisite tech skills, but we also want them to have a healthy balance in their daily activity. There’s a way to work with the changing world while keeping what’s best for kids at the forefront.
“Kids these days, they’re very good at multitasking. Just like a web browser has multiple tabs, we’re thinking about many things at once. It’s important in this day and age that we keep adapting our technology and our learning tools to try to grab that student’s attention. And while they’re having fun, we’re tricking them into learning something as well.”MR. MENDOZA, KINDERGARTEN TEACHER
So we thought we’d share a few ideas for incorporating technology in the classroom in healthy ways—ways that build tech skills, bridge the digital world with the physical world, and actually enhance instruction rather than limit it. The best part is these ideas are from teachers who are currently in the classroom, just like you.
Make tech part of morning drop-off
Kids come to school with a wide range of energy levels. Jayda’s been up since 6am, eager for school to start, while Reggie is still yawning an hour into the school day. Using technology in the classroom as a “first-thing” or “do-now” activity can be a great way to ease kids into their first big transition of the day. Plus, kids can do this independently, freeing you up to greet families at the door or get materials for your first lesson ready.
For Kindergarten teacher Ms. Hall, this is a staple in her morning routine. When kids walk in the door, they know to go straight to the tech cart. After finding their designated iPad, they spend 15 minutes doing fun, academic warm-ups in the Khan Academy Kids app. Kids are excited to walk into the classroom because they know what they’re expected to do, and they know it’s going to be fun.
“Tablet time is an important part of our morning routine. The students play games or listen to stories that I assign as part of our curriculum. They think they are playing, but they are actually learning!”MS. HALL, KINDERGARTEN TEACHER
Bring tech to carpet time
As technology has become more prolific in the classroom, experts have recommended that kids use tech as an interactive tool, rather than as a sit-and-get activity. There is certainly a time and place for sit-and-get! But it’s even more powerful to use technology in interactive ways that bridge the digital world with the physical world.
Ms. Mazza implements this flawlessly. She asks her 1st grade students to bring their iPads to carpet time, and then she leads them in a guided practice activity. She writes a sight word on the board, and kids use the Creative tool in the Khan Academy Kids app to follow along. So fun!
“Khan Academy Kids is a great supplemental resource that I use at my school. This app is so much fun and a great interactive learning tool!“MS. MAZZA, 1ST GRADE TEACHER
Use tech at small groups
Small groups require a lot of preparation. First you’re deciding what skill to teach, and then you’re creating student groups based on their familiarity with that skill. Sometimes each group each need a different activity so they can practice at their level. The activities require materials that you have to prep and clean up. It’s just too much!
Here’s where technology can really save the day. You can have kids work on their devices independently while you’re teaching your small group, or you can incorporate student device into your lesson. Maybe you review a mini-lesson and then ask kids to pull up a practice activity on their iPad, where you can watch as they play and correct misconceptions along the way.
Ms. Perry has been teaching preschool for 12 years, and she recently incorporated iPads into her small group routine. Her students work on kid-friendly assignments in the Khan Academy Kids app while she teaches her group. What’s more, the assignments are aligned to what kids are learning in class. What a great way to reinforce understanding of key concepts and sneak in a little extra practice!
“We have 1:1 iPads and my students rotate between four small groups, one of which is an iPad group. I like that I can assign my students specific letter-and-number activities on Khan Academy Kids to go with what we are working on.”MS. PERRY, PRESCHOOL TEACHER
With a few little tweaks to your classroom’s daily routine, you can incorporate technology in ways that are healthy, educational, and time-saving.
If you’re looking for fun learning apps for your students, try Khan Academy Kids. It’s a free mobile app that covers all math and literacy standards for preschool through 2nd grade.
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