If you have ever read Teach Paperless than you are aware of the many benefits of going digital in a high school classroom. Shelly Blake-Pock and his co-bloggers are quite an inspiration and have helped my technological journey in numerous ways. After being introduced to Shelly's blog, I vowed to make a solid effort to go paperless in my classroom. I am not 100% paperless. Yet. Being an elementary classroom teacher (I teach grade 3) there is much for me to consider.
Experience. My students are seven, eight, and nine. For many of them the extent of their technology know how begins and ends with video games. They can work a Wii, XBox, DS, Play Station like no one else. They could probably even teach me a thing or two! Also, most of their experiences on a computer involve them playing games on it. They are all quite familiar with they myriad of games available online (Moshi Monster, Pop Tropica). While these provide them with a foundation, it is not quite enough to do more complex things. Students in a middle and high school typically have cell phones, iPods, and other devices that allow them to multi-task, communicate, and create online. They have a great deal more experience than my eight-year-olds.
Development. Children of this age require concrete learning experiences. I am the first to tout the unique way in which technology meets the needs of all learners. Yet...I find it necessary to provide my students with concrete experiences with materials they can touch and manipulate with their bare hands along with plenty of opportunities to move while they learn. They also are of the age that believes everything they do is perfect, no planning or revision necessary. If there is any time when thoughtful deliberate online communication is necessary, it is now. With the recent attention of bullycides it is very important that the skills of drafting and revising are intrinsic.
Time. Due to the lack of experience and developmental needs they require more time to complete tasks online. I know that if I want my children to create something online I need to make sure they have time to plan, revise, and edit before they get online. And once they do get online they need time to play. Yes, play. Figure out how to use whichever application they choose to use independently and with success. Manipulate the elements within that application.
These are all things that should be considered when planning to use technology with elementary students. Planning that will allow them to be successful. They also make an excellent argument for why technology should be used with elementary students. Technology is a great way to teach children the importance of planning and revising. Technology is a great way to teach children how to engage in thoughtful deliberate communication. Technology is a great way to teach them how to be fearless and explore new things. Any consideration can be looked at differently, and what was once a prohibition can become an invitation.