How to use technology in the early elementary classroom
Get learners off to a great start with technology in the early elementary classroom. Primary students are not only eager to use technology, but also surprisingly capable. Students are more tech savvy than ever before. They use technology everyday outside the classroom through parent phones, gaming systems, and their own personal devices. Early education classrooms are filled with young minds ready, willing, and able to learn, which makes Nearpod a perfect resource to expand students’ learning to new, magnetic media experiences.
1. I click, therefore I can!
Kids can surprise you. I think that’s why even after nine years of teaching first grade, I’m still at the edge of my seat. Oddly enough, there seems to be this misconception that technology isn’t suitable for early education classrooms, and it’s been my personal experience that this is incorrect. Nearpod’s lesson features are perfectly suited for primary students. Activities like “Draw-it” and “Drag and Drop” allow students to show what they know, even ones who have yet to master basic typing skills.
To help students just learning to read and write, Nearpod gives assistive tools such as:
- Student-Paced Mode
- Audio Response
- Immersive Reader
- Various Multimedia Instructions
With one simple click, young students connect to learning in ways that far surpass paper pencil and cutting and gluing.
2. Riveting Reading!
Videos are the newest genre alongside fiction and informative texts. More than that, young learners respond to interesting, interactive videos. My students retain more reading concepts when I teach through Nearpod than just big books and anchor charts alone. My reading program tasked me to teach the concept of characters to my students. I showed the “Story Elements for Kids: What is a Character?” Interactive Video. Whole-group teaching at the carpet evolved beyond pointing to a poster and reading a big book. I was able to expand my lesson by pausing for questioning during instruction and gauging student understanding through questions embedded throughout the video. There are many more reading videos to choose from in Nearpod’s lesson library, as well as other subjects, and teachers can link these videos to more activities when creating a lesson.
Test out some activities at the carpet and see how the little learners leap off the carpet to participate in reading instruction:
- Time to Climb
- Matching Pairs
- Memory Test
- Fill in the Blanks
3. Fantastic Phonics!
Primary teachers raise your hands if every student in your classroom needs the same phonics skill? If someone raised their hand, it was probably to go to the bathroom. This happens to me all the TIME when I’m teaching! What I’ve come to learn by teaching first grade is that phonics is subjective. In early education classrooms, phonics is instrumental to reading, spelling, and breathing. Maybe not the last one, but close. Many students need different phonics skills, meaning we must meet all students on their level. Nearpod saves time and energy for differentiated phonics activities. I love using “Drag and Drop” to make word sorts. I also tie Nearpod videos to the lesson to help reinforce spelling patterns. My kids adore Alphablocks! Click here to see the lesson I created on Nearpod using Alphablocks. This gives me station activities while I read with my students. I give each group a code to complete their activities and check student progress through reports.
Here is just a short list of activities you can create in Nearpod to amp up your phonics:
- Use the “Matching Pairs” feature for letter-sound correspondence with pictures and words.
- Use “Drag and Drop” to create word sorts for different spelling patterns.
- Use “Draw it” for students to label words and identify syllable types (helps with identifying consonant letters vs. vowels).
- Use “Collaboration Board” for students to think of and practice spelling words that follow sound patterns.
With these tools at your disposal, the phonics possibilities are endless.
4. Multimedia Math!
A great math supplement is a thing of beauty. No curriculum is perfect enough to give teachers everything that they need when they need it. That’s just the hard reality we face. However, Nearpod’s library of videos, lessons, and activities helps guide my math instruction in the right direction. There are so many math concepts to choose from that are all aligned to standards, so I don’t question the content I assign my students. Nearpod even gives teachers high-quality videos such as:
- Sesame Street (Shout out to Cookie Monster!)
- Khan Academy
- And Nearpod original content
Browse Nearpod’s lesson library for math concepts you are teaching for that day. It saves time and prep work while you still ensure that students learn math skills just right for them. All you need to do is filter by grade and subject in the Nearpod library. Premade lessons at your fingertips and already aligned with standards.
5. Stellar Science and Social Studies!
I live in the middle of nowhere! It’s true. Being in a small town is nice for the most part, but we don’t have access to many resources for science and social studies. I still want to broaden my students’ horizons when teaching science and social studies. Younger students are curious about the world around them. Nearpod’s VR Field Trips help add relativity to both social studies and science. Nearpod also helps my early education kids see cultures and people vastly diverse to themselves. As crazy as it sounds, we have no ELL population in my district. Nearpod includes social studies lessons that prepare my students for the beauty of how large and diverse the world truly is. Nearpod is truly rich in its culturally diverse and inclusive social studies resources to which I want them to know how grateful I am for that. I love all things spooky and to celebrate my mom’s Mexican heritage, I found a wonderful Dia De Los Muertos lesson to share with my students. I loved it and so did they.
6. Wondrous Writing!
The landscape of writing has morphed into something wholly original. I am an early education teacher that believes in mixing old and new. Yes, I do still use primary paper and pencil and journals, but I also give my first graders opportunities to write through technology. Creating lessons through Nearpod allows writing to be more interactive and hands on while instructing young writers along the way. The worst thing is having students hate writing, and my students love to express their writing through technology. The many accessibility features in Nearpod (Immersive Reader, audio recording, etc.) help emerging writers more than ever before. Students record their ideas and write them with the “Draw-it” function or practice their typing skills. This helps those young writers who cannot hold an idea to write it down on paper. Pictures and videos spark writing ideas than simply giving a writing prompt. There are many grammar and writing videos and lessons for primary grades in Nearpod to make writing more hands-on and interactive. Technology also aids students who struggle with handwriting. Oftentimes, you find that even students at early ages don’t like writing with paper pencil but ideas flow more naturally through a keyboard. Don’t we as teachers need to allow all learners the ability to access their potential? Younger students need more exposure to expressing ideas through a keyboard. This helps teachers with technology standards but in fun, innovative ways.
Young learners are curious and inquisitive. Through practice and patience, early education students are well suited to use technology within the classroom. The first step is to place the technology into their tiny hands and Nearpod will help you take those first steps with confidence. I’m sure your youngins will take to technology like a duck to water!
Angelia Simpson has been a first grade teacher for nine years. With a classroom full of minions, she balances the wonderful line of chaos and learning. Passions include writing, technology, reading, and Corgis.