One of the biggest and most exciting changes I have seen during my teaching career is the increase of technology in the classroom. Due to the rapid growth of technology in our society, many school districts are requiring their classrooms to become increasingly tech savvy. As a result, many teachers find themselves scrambling for ways to integrate more technology into their lesson plans.
Technology integration in the classrooms involves the use of computers and other electronic devices. It helps to motivate students and allows them to learn and share their understanding in fun and unique ways. When used properly, technology can be a tool that enhances and reinforces the curriculum, but, of course, try not to think of technology as a substitute for the teacher.
Through the use of computers in the classroom, children from all walks of life have the opportunity to assess a wide range of knowledge, available right at their fingertips. My students enter kindergarten with various levels of computer experience. I always start with activities and lessons that introduce students to the different parts of the computer. After this introduction, I begin teaching students how to manipulate the mouse. There are tons of mouse practice sites that help teach students how to click and drag.
For some great Web sites for kindergarten, see ABCmouse.com Early Learning Academy; the educational game site ABCya!; Disney's funschool.com; IXL, a math practice site; the phonics site Starfall.com; and TumbleBooks, which offers free ebooks for kids.
Thanks to DonorsChoose.org, my students received two iPods to use during center rotation. DonorsChoose is an online charity that allows people to give to students and classrooms in need. With iPods, my students have access to a music library, gaming system, and computer, all in one little mobile device. Through the use of free online applications, my students are able to practice many of the reading, writing, and math skills we are working on in class. I allow my students to rotate through the iPod station twice a week. The colors, sounds, and animations keep them motivated and eager to learn. The iPod Touch provides constant reinforcement through various applications.
Some of my favorite free apps for the iPod Touch include abc PocketPhonics, BrainPOP, iTouchiLearn Numbers, Kids Math Fun-Kindergarten, Read Me Stories, Sight Words Flash Cards, and Shape Puzzle.
My students love using the SMART Board we have in our classroom. The SMART Board is one type of interactive whiteboard. Some other widely used interactive whiteboards are ActivBoard, eBeam, Mimio, and Webster. The technology transforms your whiteboard into a live computer desktop that can be used for teaching and practicing skills. There are tons of activities and games available for students of all ages. You and your students can simply press on the large, touch-sensitive surface to control the computer. Integrating SMART Board technology has added a whole new level of interactive teaching and learning in my classroom.
I struck gold this summer when I decided to visit a yard sale in my neighborhood. The yard sale was hosted by a retired teacher who decided to clean her attic. While there, I ran across several LeapPads and Leapsters she was selling for only a few dollars. I placed both of these items in centers where students could practice reading, math, writing, and more. When you have a little extra time, you may want to check out a few sales in your area. You never know what goodies you might find!
There are many types of technology available that appeal to various learning styles. Try to find the ones that will benefit both you and your students. Take a look at sites, like DonorsChoose.org, that offer teachers opportunities to acquire more technology for their classrooms.
What technology do you have available for your young learners?