It’s the start of yet another year. No matter what the year level, it is always amazing how young the children and teens seem at the start of the school year, compared to the students we said goodbye to at the end of last year. Also at this time of year, I see two types of teachers: those preparing for success with technology, and those who are leaving it completely up to chance. The surprising thing is, it does not take very long to set up your class for the rest of the year. A couple of lessons is all it takes to take away so many issues that can arise later on.
1. Teach the Skills
Find out what computer skills yours students have, what skills they do not have but should, and work from there. This is where a school scope and sequence for computer skills is very useful – it helps guide the skills that are year level appropriate, and which match the skills that the school as a whole values.
2. Teach the Boundaries
It does not matter on the year level, the subject, or the school – every child will test the boundaries of what they can and cannot do with technology. Students need to be explicitly taught what is acceptable and what is not. This is going to look very different depending on the age of the students and the task. For early years students, it may be not using Google by themselves and staying in the one app. For older students, it may be avoiding social media. With real rewards and consequences in place early, the students will tend to make the right decisions for the remainder of the year).
3. Teach the ‘when’ and the ‘why’
Students tend to fall into two categories – those who want to use technology for absolutely everything, no matter how appropriate it is for the task, and those who barely want to use it for anything, even when it is the most appropriate tool to use. Two of the most useful questions when approaching teaching technology is ‘will using technology during this lesson improve, maintain, or decrease learning outcomes?’ and ‘why are the students using technology during this lesson?’. If you have a good answer to both of these, then you can share these with your students, so they can begin to answer those questions for themselves.