Lower Primary ICT (#EdTech)

As part of a LinkedIn discussion on what to do with younger (elementary / primary) learners in ICT (#EdTech) I thought I would share some of my thoughts with the wider community.

I presently work with children K-4. I am a firm believer in teaching with technology for the following reasons:

  1. It imparts fundamental digital age skills
  2. It is multi (trans)-disciplinary
  3. It enables better collaboration
  4. It empowers independence
  5. As children spend more time interacting with curricular content, they further develop understandings
  6. As they craft messages and consider how to best communicate, they enhance their ability to do so to demonstrate understanding

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With younger learners we are often the doorway to this digital world. While I would never advocate proper typing practice for children before Grade 3 we do start good habits. If children are using a keyboard, keep it simple, encourage them to use both hands!

Data storage and retrieval are key skills students must have the opportunity to develop. There are a number of apps out there, like EasyBlogger, Jr. that allow for children to use the technology without the capacity or need for reading and writing.

Perhaps it would be best to share out a curriculum I have been developing based on these ideas.

Upper Kindergarten

Much of the work can be done in less fundamental ways with mere substitution such as practicing Fry words on an iTouch app (SAMR blog post here). Last year, however, we achieved full “redefinition” when we collaborated across departments to create an original ABC Phonics video. Children created artwork in Art class that was used in conjunction with musical accompaniment from the Music department that was then used to record them singing with the Technology Specialist who combined in all to produce this video:

Grade 1

In Grade 1 we created characters in Keynote allowing children to:

  1. Develop data storage and retrieval skills
  2. Become familiar with a typical application interface
  3. Extend work with shapes and shape language from mathematics
  4. Get introduced to the credo of independence and supporting others

Naturally, it ended up as a video on our YouTube channel as well:

Later in the year we tied it to traditional literacy and digital citizenship when we created weekly green screen News casts reporting on our progress:

Based on this success we have committed to developing this approach with a proper green screen set up already being used by more classes school wide and with better technical results.

Grade 2

We integrated technology into our International Primary Curriculum by making Documentary videos in iMovie, allowing us to learn new technology skills, develop a better understanding of copyright, creative commons and citation (great resource for classes/teachers here) while further developing and demonstrating understanding of the unit’s objectives:

As this is the year we start spending more time online we spent a good deal of time focused on Digital Citizenship. We used a variety of means including the Nearpod/Common Sense Media curriculum and went so far as to produce Books for library and as gifts to Grade 1 classes to better prepare them for the next year when they would do likewise.

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Student pages online here.

Grade 3

We introduce children to Google Apps from this year (Great resource for teachers here). So much to say here could be it’s own course, never mind blog post!

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In this year level students produced Tour Builder projects demonstrating understanding of time zones and learning about latitude and longitude. Naturally, the screencasts of their work found their way to the school YouTube channel after a quick polishing in iMovie:

This year we have added Ebook creation with Google Slides in our IPC Rain Forest Unit. This gives students the opportunity to develop skills with this app (including how to source images and reference material through the Tools>Explore function) as well as the fundamental skills of visual literacy and digital story telling.

We are using Google Classroom to support the students in the development of self-management skills and taking greater responsibility for directing their learning and tracking their own progress. The checklist shared through the classroom includes a peer assessment chat as well and, along with their eBooks, will be shared in their portfolios.

Grade 4

We take this work with Google Apps further here, including the incorporation of student produced Puppet Pals videos into Google Slides:

As part of the technology integration program at the International School of the Sacred Heart students made a presentation to the class based on their collaborative research and Puppet Pals videos.
Girls were given skill building and introductory lessons on:

  • The Google Slides application and interface (including styles, animations, embedding video, the use of Speaker Notes and how to use the Present function)
  • Principles of C.A.R.P. design (right)
  • Notes on basic presentation skills

Naturally with an assessment rubric used by Mr. Thompson on their first attempt at presenting in this manner in Grade Four.

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We also introduce programming without the code via Scratch (Loads here). We are looking to go much further with this having Grade 3 work with Scratch starting this year and introducing programming via Scratch, Jr. for the iPad, Swift Playgrounds, Osmo Coding and Tynker as well.

//scratch.mit.edu/projects/embed/106963406/?autostart=false

There is much more that we do and will continue to integrate and/or teach independently but this post has to end somewhere so let it be here. Feel free to visit giveitaway.net for WAAAAAY more and seansensei8 on YouTube for tutorials and don’t forget to subscribe to them all!

Good luck:).

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About Sean Thompson

Sean has accepted a position as the Director of Technology at The Early Learning Centre, City School, in Bangkok. He is excited to be working with Giovanni Piazza and the rest of the staff to raise awareness of digital-age teaching and learning practice in this Reggio Emilia inspired environment. Sean is also an Apple Distinguished Educator, an International Baccalaureate Educator Network Workshop Leader and a Google Educator available for professional development at your school.
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