Choosing Educational Technology for the 4th Grade Classroom

I still remember the uproar when our local public school committee approved of calculator use in the elementary school. It was the 1970’s and my buddy and I were responsible for passing out milk to the classes each morning. I distinctly recall a few teachers being visibly upset and not afraid of sharing these fears with our ten-year old selves.

With this memory in mind, contemporary educational technology (Ed Tech) is ridiculously cool. The following post is not a rehashed list of popular websites. Rather it is a body of thought on my current practices and personal viewpoints I adhere to when choosing instructional educational tools for my fourth grade students.

  1. “Will the Ed tech tool improve student learning in my classroom?” This is the primary question I think about when instituting any new facet to my craft. I need to see multiple evidence of growth among a comparable student body.
  2. “Is it more effective than what is already commonly used?” I am often promoting the pencil and paper as the finest educational technology tool in human history. We value old-fashioned note taking and journal writing still in fourth grade.
  3. “Does it enhance a thinking environment? “ My students are generally engaged (whatever that means) in my classroom. If an Ed tech tool is a distraction, to me, it is not used, regardless of its benefits.
  4. “Is it time-friendly?” Having a beginning of the year conversation on the ways of passwords and logins is very beneficial.
  5. “Does it adequately allow for differentiation?”Will it engage mixed-ability learners?
  6. “Is it collaborative?” Can multiple users use it equally at home and school? If not, then why not? Time, in an elementary school classroom, is precious. Can the kids hone their Ed tech skills at home?
  7. “Could it possibly impress a curmudgeon?” I am routinely overly enthusiastic for new Ed tech tools. Understanding this, I try to think upon what less tech savvy peers and parents would feel about a certain item.
  8. “Is it free?” I am cheap and I hate asking for money from my administrators. If a tool is not free to use, can I find a similar tool that will do an adequate job?
  9. “What are others saying about it?” My professional online network of educators is where I get much of my advice about Ed tech. I am heavily indebted to the work of Richard Byrne as well as the people of EdTechTeacher. I highly recommend you check out their websites.

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