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Integrating Technology with Littles: Tips to Enhance Student Learning  

general coaching littles new to coaching technology integration Aug 08, 2023

 Written by Brooke Conklin, with inspiration from Sarah Kiefer, Brittney Priore, and Debbie Tannenbaum

“These kids are just too young to use Chromebooks.” 

“It takes me 20 minutes just to get everyone logged on.”

“Upper-elementary is a more appropriate setting for students to use technology.”

We’ve heard these, and more. 

Technology use with littles (think ages 5-7) CAN be done. Not only can it be done, but it can transform the learning environment in these early elementary settings. 

With a background in high school and middle school education, I have always been a bit clumsy when it comes to broaching the topic of technology with early childhood teachers. What do I know? Maybe it really ISN’T worth the hassle? This was the imposter syndrome loop taking residence in my mind before I listened to two episodes of the Restart Recharge Podcast dedicated entirely to using technology with our youngest learners. 

Check out the episode highlights below:

In episode 310, Sarah Kiefer, a technology integration specialist, and Brittney Priore, a first grade teacher, shared invaluable insights on how to meaningfully implement technology with younger students. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Don't assume kids have tech skills and do explicitly teach proper use from an early age. Model how to navigate devices, login, troubleshoot issues, and more. 
  • Use district-provided tools first before bringing in new tools - master what you already have access to.
  • Build consistent tech routines right away and prevent headaches later! Practice procedures for getting devices out, logging in, wrapping up, etc.
  • Offer to be an extra set of hands and support teachers as they implement new tech activities.  
  • Embed tech seamlessly into existing lessons and frameworks rather than adding on extra tech time. Find ways to integrate it into literacy centers, math stations, etc.
  • Use tools like Google Slides and Mote to create interactive activities with audio, visuals, and opportunities for students to build skills.

Brittany shared an example of a phonics literacy lesson she designed where students record themselves reading, listen back while segmenting sounds, and build words by dragging letters. This is an example of one student-driven activity that integrated technology in a meaningful way - not as an extra station or center, but as an integral part of an academic lesson.

What about coaches? How can instructional and technology coaches support tech in classrooms full of eager littles? In episode 309, Debbie Tannenbaum, a school-based technology specialist, shared sound approaches that coaches can adopt to drive elementary tech integration. 

  • Introduce new tech slowly, starting with highly engaging activities like digital stories or games. Get kids hooked!
  • Consider students' background knowledge. Use images, symbols, and step-by-step verbal cues to guide young learners.
  • Offer to model a tech lesson in the classroom so the teacher can see student excitement and engagement firsthand.
  • Find peer influencers excited about tech. Their enthusiasm spreads to other teachers. Don’t try to win everyone over at once. Some teachers need to see it in action before they’ll take the leap to try it out in their own classrooms.
  • Meet teachers where they are. Don't push too far too fast. Build trust and relationships first.
  • Remind teachers that tech is about enhancing instruction, not adding on extra work. Offer curated, ready-to-use activities.
  • Celebrate teacher successes and student gains! Highlight growth to create buy-in.

The bottom line - technology can enhance instruction when purposefully integrated. It requires preparing students with the tech skills needed and offering teachers the support they need. Let's keep finding new ways to engage students with technology!  

We hope these tips help you in your coaching role. Let us know what strategies have worked well in your context! Tag us on socials- @EDUCoachNetwork

Wishing you an amazing school year!

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