Student “My computer isn’t working. It won’t let me sign on!” 
Me “Did you type in your password correctly?” 
Student “Yes.” 
Me “Try it again”
Student “Hey, it works!”

This is what the beginning of my school year sounds like.  Teaching students to use technology efficiently is a skill unto itself in the younger grades. We have been hearing about students being “digital natives” comfortable with technology, which might be true to some extent, but they do struggle with some aspects. The skills I end up teaching initially have more to do with how to actually sign on, find an application, and ask the right questions to find the information they need. Grade 3 at my current school is the first year of 1:1 laptops, so I have to lay the groundwork for this type of technology use.

As they begin utilizing different applications, I have found that allowing students to discover how to use technology on their own is more effective than me directly teaching them. They will often figure things out in ways that I would have never thought of. By the end of the school year, they are able to do so many things with their tech skills.  See a post from Brian’s Brainwave about it.

I am sure every school has an acceptable use agreement (or whatever it might be called) that students, parents and teachers have to sign before using the computers in class. Often I think parents and students simply sign the paper without reading or fully considering what it says or means. What is in these policies is the real lesson students need in a tech-infused classroom and world. Teachers need to be laying the foundation for making good choices online as well as offline. To better understand how to guide students in creating their positive online footprint, I am pursuing my Common Sense Certified Educator Certification. Common Sense Education is a series of lessons about online behavior and how to handle topics such as cyberbullying and privacy among others. Becoming certified will help build my knowledge on the best way to deliver this information to students and guide them in maintaining positive online behavior.

I am always trying to balance facilitating students’ development of essential tech skills and letting go of tech when it isn’t necessary. When I do choose to integrate technology, I make sure it allows students to have an authentic experience and gives them an authentic audience to share their work. As they become fluent in various tools, students are able to choose ways to present their learning, which is a powerful motivation and gives them agency in their learning.