How to use technology in the 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.
Nearpod gives you real-time insights into student understanding through interactive lessons, interactive videos, gamification, and activities. Students can join from their devices to participate in the lesson through simple steps. Learn how to teach your students how to use Nearpod in simple steps. With Nearpod for elementary educators, you can access standards-aligned premade lessons, activities, and videos, and create your own. To access the activities and lessons mentioned here, sign up for free below to get started!
Why is it important to use technology in education for elementary school students?
Kids can surprise you. I think that’s why I’m still at the edge of my seat even after nine years of teaching first grade. This infographic published by Everyday Family shows that 57% of kids under 12 have used a mobile device for educational purposes. 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. There are many benefits to using teaching in the classroom. Teaching elementary students with technology provides them opportunities to learn at their own pace, increases their engagement and participation, helps build their skills in operating devices and software, creates fun learning moments, and prepares them for future careers.
How to use technology in the elementary classroom
1. Interactive activities
With one simple click, young students connect to learning in ways that far surpass paper pencils and cutting and gluing. You can still create hands-on and interactive learning experiences for your students with technology. Have them use digital drawing whiteboards, drag and drop activities, virtual reality experiences, and more.
To help students just learning to read and write, Nearpod gives assistive tools such as:
2. Videos and activities for reading
Video’s growing role in the classroom makes it 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 on the carpet evolved beyond pointing to a poster and reading a big book. I was able to expand my lesson by gauging student understanding during instruction through questions embedded in the video. There are many more reading videos to choose from in Nearpod’s Lesson Library and other subjects, and teachers can link these videos to more activities when creating a lesson. When searching for lessons, filter by subject, standards, and grade level to find content that’s right for your classroom.
Test out some of these Nearpod activities on the carpet and see how the little learners leap off the carpet to participate in reading instruction:
- Time to Climb
- Matching Pairs
- Memory Test
3. Teaching 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! Check out 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. With these tools at your disposal, the phonics possibilities are endless.
- 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 Collaborate Board for students to think of and practice spelling words that follow sound patterns.
4. Using multimedia in 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 math 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 with standards, so I don’t question the content I assign my students. Nearpod even gives teachers high-quality videos with partners such as:
- Sesame Street (Shout out to Cookie Monster!)
- Khan Academy
- Nearpod’s 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 are at your fingertips and already aligned with standards.
5. Virtual reality for 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 student’s horizons when teaching science and social studies. Younger students are curious about the world around them. Nearpod’s Virtual Reality (VR) Field Trips help add relativity to both social studies and science.
VR experiences help my early education kids see cultures and people vastly diverse from themselves. Nearpod includes social studies lessons that prepare my students for the beauty of how large and diverse the world truly is. The content is truly rich in cultural diversity and inclusivity. 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. Writing instruction through technology
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 still use primary paper, 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; my students love expressing their writing through technology. The many accessibility features in Nearpod, such as Immersive Reader and audio recording, help emerging writers more than ever before. Students record their ideas, write them with the Draw It activity, 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 more 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 pencils 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.
Get started using elementary classroom technology with Nearpod
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!
To access the activities and features mentioned in this blog post, sign up for Nearpod for free!
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.