a group of kindergarteners using safe technology in the class

4 tips for incorporating safe, engaging, tech-rich material into early elementary ed

Here’s how to find appropriate resources for the youngest students

3. Preview before you share.

Advertisements may be the bane of my classroom existence. They’re so frequent and bothersome! Many videos I use are on YouTube and it is such a hassle to wait for ads to be over before I can switch the video from my computer to the SMART board.

I work hard to stay on top of the ads, but they are so frequent that they now appear in the beginning, middle, and end of videos. The ads that they put in videos these days don’t even have anything to do with the content. I am vigilant to make sure any video I show my students is appropriate!

It’s incredibly important for me to preview videos, apps, and activities. Fortunately, it’s easy to monitor what goes onto the iPad because I’m the one that downloads the apps and that kind of activity is password-protected.

Within the apps, I find that my students are pretty good about staying where they’re supposed to be. We group the apps by activity on the iPads and my students respect our class rules. They understand the consequences of not following directions, but safety is paramount, so I do everything I can to make sure I’m showing them only age-appropriate things.

4. Incorporate plenty of non-digital activities.

Of course, part of ensuring age-appropriate technology use is limiting technology use, so I make sure I include lots of non-digital activities. We practice writing in the Seesaw digital portfolio program, for example, but we also work on pencil grip with an actual pencil. I have kids who can navigate the iPad no problem, but knowing how to play with Play-Doh can be a challenge at the beginning of the year. To help them develop fine-motor skills, we do a variety of hands-on activities, such as STEM challenges involving Play-Doh, and the typical coloring, cutting, and gluing you find in a kindergarten classroom.

I appreciate the value of hands-on activities and am very selective with the technology I put in front of my students. More and more students are beginning school without basic social skills—and those skills can be impeded by the frequent use of technology that is prevalent today. I want to make sure that if I’m using technology in my classroom, it adds to our instruction and meets the learning goals we’re working on.

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