As I think about National Kindergarten Day coming up on April 21st, I am reminded that many educators have questions about exposing young students to digital tools. For a long time, educators thought that the use of digital tools in Kindergarten should be limited for a number of reasons. Research now tells us that the data doesn’t support that thinking.
Young students, particularly those with high instructional needs, derive more benefit from instruction that makes use of digital resources than traditional methods. Digital instructional resources are multimodal – they resonate with auditory, visual and many times tactile learning styles. This is most important for younger students as they may not yet have developed the ability to learn from traditional methods. Using digital resources ensures that information is presented in a way that these youngsters can process.
Of course, to get the best results, you must choose the right digital instructional resources. Even with the little ones, digital resources can be used to deliver content and/or assess student mastery of goals. Look for tools and resources that center around your instructional goals. Use a rubric to assess the digital tool while you take time to get familiar with it.
While choosing the right digital tools is important, using the right instructional strategy is of equal importance. Sometimes one strategy is used when introducing the resource, and a different strategy is used when the students are completing their activity. A powerful strategy for younger students is co-use – using technology in pairs. This increases student engagement by making use of purposeful partnering, encouraging students to turn and talk and allowing for self-reflective monitoring.
You can find a few great suggestions for Kindergarten student projects here. Many different tools can be used to make them. Need ideas for tools? Check out the TeachersFirst Edge. Let us know what you decide to have your students create. Post a comment here or tag us on Twitter. We love seeing student creations!