It was a nice sunny day and the children were observing the clouds. They wanted to record the changes happening in the sky. One was drawing and the other was painting the clouds. The other was simple lying down squinting his eyes and watching the clouds with a blade of grass in his mouth. Two children were setting up a stand with an iPad to record a time lapse of the clouds ‘So we can really see how they are moving!’ They were 5 years old and they were researching for an inquiry they were engaged in about changes in the natural world.
They made a ‘wind machine’ with a stick and a flag to test their theories of how the changes in wind made the clouds move faster followed by rain. When their hypothesis was not accurate, they wanted to ask a meteorologist where they were going wrong. Then we skyped with a meteorologist from the Maldives and with a meteorologist from the US. The children got answers for their questions. They then documented their learning on their digital portfolios on SeeSaw. When they wanted to share their learning on the class blog we talked about sharing our personal data with people who we didn’t know very well. Children decided to change their photos to icons on Seesaw so that they can protect their personal information.
The children went further and coded Dash and Dot Robots to become ‘weatherbots’.
Learning was always collaborative and the use of technology had a purpose. Technology was simply a tool that fit into what they wanted to do. Learning was also differentiated and the choices personal.
I feel that in the early years the use of technology is simpler than it is in the middle school or high school. Perhaps the use of social media and peer pressure makes it more complicated later. As an early years teacher I find balancing less complicated. The children use the tools that are most appropriate for the task when facilitated well by a teacher. The challenge as we go forward is to remember to integrate technology meaningfully and not be tempted to try teach children skills just for the sake of teaching them…. and find the balance.