Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Connecting with the "Digital Natives"

The children of today are growing up in a different
time than their parents and teachers. How are we, as adults, to successfully connect and engage with children who were using touch screens independently by the time they were a year old? (We call these children "digital natives.") The debate about how to best use technology in early childhood - or if it should be used at all - is ongoing.

If teachers are workin
g to connect children's school learning with their home learning (which is best practice), they should be using technology in their classrooms productively. For most young children today, technology such as televisions, computers, cameras, and cell phones are a regular part of the day at home. Teachers should use children's familiarity with these things to their advantage. Technology is a natural link to literacy. It can be used in so many ways to promote literacy development in school, and teachers who use technology activities should provide information to families about how technology is used in school and how this can be carried into their home environments.

Technology can be incorporated in early education in far more meaningful ways than simple letter recognition and vocabulary games. Children can be asked to write or draw about their favorite TV show or video game.
This becomes an interactive literacy activity as children create their own representation of a game or show through drawing and talking. This activity is focused on the process rather than the product, as children may represent actions in their mark-making. (Tip: Try to use the phrase, "Tell me about what you are doing/drawing/writing" rather than "What are you drawing?") Teachers can create classroom websites or blogs to which children are regular contributors. Families can be invited to post with their children, creating an extension of the classroom community. Also, teachers can bring technology into the classroom for children to use in relation to academics, as well as for free choice time. If a school or classroom is able to have portable technology of their own, they can set them up with multiple appropriate applications for use at certain times, giving children freedom to explore these new technology in a safe environment.

A is for Avatar: Young Children in Literacy. 2.0 Worlds and Literacy in 1.0 Schools. - by Karen Wohlwend


  1. The idea that "technology is a natural link to literacy" is important. Teachers have many choices of wonderful tools they can use through technology. Technology can expose children to things they may never get the chance to see. They can see videos of places they may never see with their own eyes.

  2. I love your tip to ask children to "tell me about what you've drawn." I hear, so many times, "what is that?" or "what did you draw?" I can only imagine the frustration and hurt that a child feels after an adult tells them to draw a picture, then criticizes the accuracy. Using this slightly different phrase can make the world of difference when encouraging and supporting a child as a writer and author.

  3. I really liked, "Teachers can create classroom websites or blogs to which children are regular contributors." Recently, I came across a classroom blog that was completely child-directed, and it was the coolest thing. Children were encouraged to communicate pretty much anything they wanted about the day or things that they were learning about in class. I also really love the idea of using twitter in the classroom. I think it would be really amazing to be able to tweet interesting things that the children said throughout the day, even if it was just for the purpose of being able to go back to your own observations in an efficient manner later. It would be a really neat way for parents to see what their children are saying or doing in the classroom.

  4. I agree with your point. Technology is a great way to interact with literacy for children. With technology, children will engage in learning their language and literacy well. I also like that you have an idea of family involvement in children's technology. Because as family memebers are interested in children' literacy with technology, they can learn some important tips and poilcies.

  5. It rue to say that the children we will be working with are digital natives. Even though most of us have grown up with computer games and cell phones the children in our classrooms with most likely be more technologically savvy than us and this is something that new teachers should keep in mind.