Digital resources are amazing for the kindergarten and first grade classroom. Carefully read my next sentence: Digital resources are a nightmare for the kindergarten and first grade classroom.
Can I even say both of those sentences in the same post? Let me explain. I really do love using technology in the classroom. Really…I do. However, the digital world can pose a problem in any classroom because even though the average kindergartener is much more tech savvy than I am, there are so many things that can go wrong with technology that cause students to need help.
I can’t even tell you how many times I sit down in my comfy rolling chair ready to lead a reading group and all of a sudden there is a student next to me with an I-PAD. So of course I help. My focus goes back to the group to get them started and another student is next to me with an I-PAD. I help. I turn back to my small group trying to get them focused again. Why can’t they focus? Ha! Ha! Why can’t I? This could go on all day!
There are always glitches in the system, especially the exact time you start Centers. It’s like the computers know the schedule and are trying to figure out the BEST way to make me work a little harder. Sometimes passwords get lost or forgotten OR mistyped and now they are timed out. Also, kids become tired of the programs we have them use.
Here are my 5 secret tips to make technology work in the classroom.
Secret Tip #1 – Technology Experts
Here is the number one solution to solving all your technology woes…have a classroom job called Technology Expert. Rotate this job so that everyone gets a turn which helps the kids who don’t have as much confidence actually feel more confident in what they are supposed to be doing when they are in charge. Make sure you have at least 2 Experts at a time so that when one expert is busy there is another Expert to help. Now when they line up while you are teaching a small group all you have to say is “Go ask an EXPERT!” You could give the experts a necklace that says TECHNOLOGY EXPERT or have them wear an TECHNOLOGY EXPERT CROWN – something that identifies them. I don’t have classroom jobs usually. Just one leader for the day. However, for technology this could be an exception. If you do have classroom jobs just add Technology Expert to the list.
Secret Tip #2 – Passwords
I just LOVE passwords….well….sometimes. If I know the password and can remember it – I LOVE IT!!! That’s rarely the case anymore. In fact, I probably have 30 passwords – how can I remember them? Kids are the same way (except they have better memories than I do). They need to know their passwords without wasting time searching for them. So my students had thin containers that would house one i-pad, two headphones and passwords (two kids shared one i-pad so they took turns using it). I wrote out ALL the websites, programs, usernames and passwords on ONE card and would color code the different websites or programs. You could also type information on labels, highlight different parts and stick them on the cards.
The password cards ALWAYS stayed in the i-pad container. They NEVER ended up on the floor, by the sink or inside the center game tubs – NEVER! Ha! Ha! I digress…..yes it’s not a foolproof system and sometimes they end up in random places. But, most of the time, it’s a great system.
One more Secret Tip with passwords: Keep a master list of your students and all their usernames and passwords by your teacher table for those OH SO RARE moments when there is a missing password. But honestly, they actually did really well keeping them in the tubs.
Secret Tip #3 – Training
Here is the easiest, yet hardest, tip of all. TRAIN THEM! Literally have them get on the i-pad and practice going to the correct website or program and typing in the username and password. During this time, at the beginning of the year, you are not working with a group of kids – you are monitoring and helping them. I was lucky (I think). We had 12 i-pads for 24 students. So they could practice at the same time (in pairs) and they could help each other get into the program, type in their passwords and learn to log out. We would do this for a week for about 15 minutes a day (during what would eventually become part of our center and reading group time). They would practice getting the i-pad tub out and put it back (I numbered the tubs and two students were assigned to one tub).
Secret Tip #4 – Boom Cards
Programs…Programs…Programs!!!! Have websites and programs that you LOVE and train your students to use them. Just don’t have too many. You may find that your school district has specific programs that are required. Sometimes that’s great…other times it’s not. One of my favorites is BOOM Learning. I have created many resources for this digital program. Check it out!
Secret Tip #5 – Not Just For Centers
My last tip is my absolute favorite! Why? Because there is so much you can do with digital resources as a whole group. Here is the tip: Find ways to incorporate digital recourses into your everyday teaching (not just during centers). Here are my favorites. You might have some of your own favorites too.
Informational Writing has a digital component. You project the PowerPoint and read the information OR you can read it in Google. There is so much more to this resource but the information portion is digital. Although I’m showing you the Winter Bundle I also have them for Fall and Spring.
Digital story problems are so much fun! The kids can do the story problems themselves OR you can project them and solve them as a whole group for extra story problem practice and modeling. Use it as a review or introduction. I also have a story problem resource that is printable.
You can use the PowerPoints and Videos in the View & Do resources to practice skills while getting your kids up and active.
Last, but not least, in fact, my absolute favorite is MUSIC! I have songs with videos for almost every theme, circle time, fairy tales and sight words. Check out all these bundles! There is something for EVERYONE!
As you can imagine, there are so many digital resources out there that I’m sure you can find the perfect digital resource for your students. If you need some help check out the ones above that I have already created. They just might be perfect for the student engagement of your dreams. No nightmares with technology needed!
If you want to see how I run my centers, check out these blogposts: