Too Young for Technology?!?

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a secondary teacher and in the last few years have taught predominantly senior students. Due to a small year 11 group moving through our school, subjects are combined for year 11 and 12 classes. This has left gaps in my timetable and in 2012, I shall be teaching two prep/one classes  and a grade 4/5 class ICT. (Information and Communications Technology ie Computers and technology)
The question that my principal posed to me when I went to enquire about the direction to be taken with the 5 years olds was “Are preps too young for technology?“. My immediate reaction was ‘yes’ but on further reflection, I have come up with the following thoughts-

  • the majority are most likely using technology at home eg wii, games machines, ipods, iPads, Mum’s iPhone etc
  • most are too young to type and login with a username when they first start, but they can use their fingers for gesture based learning and hardware use, talk and use other forms of body language for communication. They can draw, take pics, record etc
  • I am in an almost ‘unique’ position being able to teach 5 year olds through to 18 years olds. Imagine the learning that will take place for me.
  • opportunity to teach them cyber safety from the youngest of ages
  • use technology to help with literacy and numeracy skills
  • chance to develop global competencies from an early age

Some tasks:-

  • check the VELs (Victorian Education Learning Standards) to see what is prescribed curriculum wise for level 1.
  • discover what technology students already use eg do they skype grandparents/relations?, have a wii, games machine etc
  • create a class blog – (dare I experiment with individual blogs halfway through the year?)
  • communicate regularly with parents, encouraging them to comment back on the class blog
  • setup an ultranet space for students and parents
  • enlist the help of parents during class time
  • book and use the school set of 10 iPads wherever possible
  • develop a buddy system
  • trial the use of easyspeak microphones to create simple podcasts to be embedded on the school blog
  • experiment with skype/playchat (first chat will be on Wednesday with Amanda Marrinan from Queensland) and with skype play. See the skype kinderchatplay project
  • participate in and lead a pioneering Flat Classroom K-2 Project
  • Add a column to my tweetdeck for #kinderchat, #elemchat #earlyyears, #skypeplay and follow the conversations on twitter

Do you think they are too young for technology? What have I missed? What apps should I use on the iPads? I like the idea of creating with technology. What have you used? What would you like to try? What advice do you have for me? Suggestions for any blogs, wikis etc as resources?

Are the littlies too young for technology?

Meet my two classes (Wordle was used to create the word clouds)


16 responses to “Too Young for Technology?!?

  1. My favorite app for the early years is Sonic Pics – so easy to use. Take photos, add narration and easily create a video. Try getting students to act out a story, go on a shape walk or recount a learning experience. Also take a look at Puppet Pals, Explain Everything and Visualise – all useful for students to show what they know.

    • Lou, thank you so much for this advice and suggestions for apps and ways to use them. I really want to encourage creativity and love your ideas. Would like to keep in touch.

    • Hi Lou, thank you for your suggestions. I shall look at the apps that you suggest and I love your ideas of going on a shape walk, acting out stories and recounting learning experiences. Another challenge for me is that I only have them once a week, so am hoping that their classroom teacher may continue on with the skills that they are taught.

  2. Anne – we should chat.

    I think the biggest focus needs to be on teaching early years children concepts around digital citizenship relevant to their level of development and also exploring information literacy and how they search and navigate the space. I think you’ll find a lot of inspiration from the work of Kathy Cassidy – have you seen her stuff?



    • Hi Dan and thanks for the advice. I know of Kathy Cassidy and will google for her work. Do you have the links to any of her spaces. Amanda Marrinan who is mentioned in the above post has worked with her so shall explore further. I like your advice and direction.

  3. Love your enthusiasm, and willingness to question, research, and ensure that your students get “just right” tech. I also wanted to thank you for trying (and linking) the #kinderchat #skypeplay project. As that project unfolds, we are finding that many Learning Standards are being explored through the prism of Social Media. One might argue that some people are too old for technology, but I have not yet met a learner who is too young for thoughtful, relevant, connected access to tools they instinctively can relate to. Enjoy searching out technology not for the sake of technology, but for the sake of learning.

    • Hi Mardelle and thank you for your ‘pearls of wisdom’. I think that your #skypeplay and #kinderchat are fabulous. Using hash tags keeps us in the loop when we need it.

  4. I love your attitude! Preps and year ones are not too young for technology. I teach grade one in Canada and my students blog on a regular basis. We have one class iPad, and one class iPod which are in constant use. We use laptops and desktops too. I think your little people will totally surprise you with what they CAN do! Here’s a link to my blog post on the apps I use with my young students.

    Snoop around a bit, check out the link to our class blog. From there you can find their individual blogs. Let me know if I can provide you with any assistance. Karen, in Canada 🙂

    • Thank you for sharing your blog post and the apps you use with young students. I enjoyed reading about your learning journeys and shall keep returning to learn more. I will get a class tweet id so that we can learn from classes elsewhere.

  5. You are a wonderful, thoughtful, insightful teacher. Try the Toontastic app for digital story creation – then take them outside to listen to the wind talking to the trees ( or vise versa- ) -never too young for a great experience of any sort, but we need to stay in touch in a balanced way with the tangible world. Take kids out and iTalk the natural world, then illustrate. Photoessay the best things out in the bush, then audioboo a narrative. Photo numbers to 10 in the natural world, then create a teach me Vimeo on numbers for the preschool next door….. So much you can do!

  6. Over the last few years I have been exploring and debating the use of technology in an Early childhood setting. I agree with Dan’s comment above, about the importance of teaching digital citizenship right from the very beginning. We tweet and blog as a collaborative writing engagement, which has proven to be a powerful way of introducing the idea of digital footprints.

    My children have got HEAPS out of global classroom projects . We haven’t managed to skype as the classes we are tweeting with are all in time zones that don’t work, but the children have communicated using twitter, email, surface (snail) mail, google docs, voicethread and more . It has been very worth while.

    With iPads I find it important to choose apps that get the children creating rather than just consuming (digital worksheets). I like to get the children thinking critically about the apps they are using. and Fotobabble and Audiboo on an iTouch are favourites at the moment due to the ease with which young children can take photographs, record a voice comment and tweet to the class blog without any adult help. Very empowering!

    One group of children made a stop animation movie which took weeks to create but was a rich and wonderful inquiry. Another group have explored possibilities with PhotoBooth. Both projects were collaborative and involved lots of language, social interaction and problem solving, and got the children making connections to other experiences, which is what I look for in learning engagements, technological or otherwise.

    Hope this helps. Sorry it’s so long and with so many links. I kept thinking of more things!

    • Tasha, thank you so, so much for all these links, advice, resources etc. I hope you will share more with me as you think of them. I am going to use some of your great ideas. Will be in touch as I think we are in similar time zones to see whether we can link up in real time and have a #skypeplay.

  7. Loved your post. I actually teach technology instruction to 3/4 year old up to 2nd grade. My 5 year olds (Kindergarten) through second have their own published blogs. The K students write and publish their first blog in September or October. By 1st grade they are commenting on their peers blogs. It is an amazing time of technology exploration. If done correctly, no it is not too young.
    Good luck and I can’t wait to see the adventures your tiniest students take you on!

  8. OH – #kinderchat, #ece, #earlyed are also great hashtags to follow.

    • HI Amanda, thank you so much for your comment. I love reading how advanced your little ones become by the time they are in grade one. I have added the hashtags you suggested to my tweetdeck and enjoy watching the tweeted updates.

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