OK….I’ll admit over the past couple of months I’ve been hard on primary teachers on this blog. I have talked about my struggles with using technology with the younger students and how I felt we should be limiting their screen time to really good uses of technology. Uses that don’t include iPads as flashcard and game replacement devices.
What I was struggling with was finding a project that I felt was worth the time away from exploring, running around, building, and imagining things in favor of sitting with a digital device. I still struggle with this actually. If all that iPads and technology can be used for in the younger years is games, flashcard replacement, and a handful of other replacement type tasks then I’m not sure we’re getting the bang for our buck with technology. I want it to do more, I want it to redefine the classroom and that’s hard when I believe kids should be spending time playing together, interacting, and imagining. Also knowing that outside of school many of them are getting plenty of screen time at home. So what I really am looking for is a project where I can say…that is a good use of technology with Kindergardeners.
And I found it….
Ben Sheridan is a recently graduate of the COETAIL program. For his final project he talked about the way he was using technology to connect his students to other Kindergarten classrooms. His class has a blog, they tweet, they Skype, they use the SmartBoard…and the best part is they think this is all just normal Kindergarden stuff.
Out of these connections came an opportunity when Ben connected his class with Zoe Page’s class, a Kindergarten teacher in Japan and current COETAILer. Their students set up a Skype call and introduced themselves to each other. They then decided that they wanted to write a book together for the iPad.
That book can now be downloaded free in the iBook Store here.
Ben outlines the project and how they completed it in a series of blog posts on his blog. If you are an early childhood/primary teacher Ben and Zoe are two blogs worth following.
These are the kind of projects that get me excited about using technology with younger kids. Let’s stop arguing over how many iPads a class needs, or what device is right for the primary grades and lets find ways to create classrooms that connect students to each other and show them the true power of this technology. The power isn’t in the device, it’s in the connections that it can create that lead to learning.