A Commonsense Approach to Elementary Edtech

#edtech #edchat #elemchat Today I was asked by an elementary teacher, "How do you know what technology to teach young students?"

My answer was simple, "Commonsense."

I then explained that when I look at what a student leaving my elementary school needs as far as tech skills before entering middle school I get the following list (in no particular order).

  1. Keyboarding Skills, since in my school district keyboarding is no longer taught in middle or high school I need to make sure that my kids go off into middle school knowing how to type at least 30 words a minute.
  2. Basic Word Processing, it is really a no-brainer that middle schoolers do a lot of written reports. Students should know the basics of word processing, and I don't care what you are using; MS Word, Pages, Google Docs, they are all basically the same. Students should know how to change fonts, change size, bold, underline, italicize, change font color and alignment.
  3. Basic Presentation Software, often times teachers will give students the option of presenting information to the class, so students should understand how to make and edit slides and the basics of what makes a good presentation.
  4. Basic Spreadsheets, I don't spend a lot of time on spreadsheets, but we do a little. Things like entering info into cells and how to do a simple formula so they get the gist of what spreadsheets are all about.
  5. Internet Seach Skills, students need to know how to search the Internet for information (using more than just Google) and then how to decide what information to use and what to ignore. Again, this is a strong skill that students will use everyday in middle and high school.
  6. Internet Safety Skills, you can't just throw our students to the wolves of the Internet, so you need to teach them how to keep themselves safe while online.

The teacher I was talking to nodded his head as I explained these six areas that I focus my tech instruction on so I knew that he agreed with my commonsense approach to edtech. But then he asked me, "But I thought you make a lot of movies and podcasts with your students, so where do you find the time to teach these basics?"

I then explained that I hide these skills inside the projects that I do with kids. In movie making they do reseach online, write a scipt in a word processor, etc. Usually my projects involve all of the six areas that I focus on. Something I like to call "Ambush Teaching." They never see it coming.

- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary School