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I use technology for more of my day than I care to admit… I use it for work, to get around, for entertainment and to keep in touch with friends. It has helped me immensely. Even now I am drafting this post on my phone while waiting for a bus. I should probably pay more attention to the lessons about screentime that I do with students!

One of the many reasons that I think we need to be cognizant of screentime in schools is so that students have enough time to be physically active and to be social. I also think that

students, particularly young students, need opportunities to manipulate physical objects to learn about the world through the sense of touch.

I have been troubled by some links and ideas that I have seen popping up in my various feeds with more and more frequency. Recently, both companies and individuals have been promoting apps for young children to draw pictures, practice their handwriting, link cubes together or use counters on 10 frames. It may be that there are some amazing interactive features of these apps that scaffold or challenge children’s thinking… However, I have a hard time even trying them out because in my gut I feel that young children are tactile and need multiple opportunities to handle and manipulate real objects. Why practice handwriting if you aren’t also learning how to hold a pencil, paintbrush or marker? Wouldn’t adding and removing actual blocks from a chain help to build stronger 1 to 1 correspondence than tapping on an iPad? Ditto for adding counters to 10 frames. It’s only with real paper that you can discover the tactile differences in drawing with pastels vs pencil crayons.

Technology can certainly be a powerful tool for connecting with others and allows students and teachers alike to do things that would be impossible (or at at least extremely challenging) with ‘just’ pencils and paper. Creating and understanding multimedia are important skills in today’s world and I love exposing students to this world! And students like it too – this is the only job I’ve ever had as a teacher where at the start of each school year I receive applause from classes of 11-12 year old boys who are extremely excited to get their hands on these powerful tools!

We have amazing facilities at our school and classrooms are becoming more and more high-tech. This can powerfully impact teaching and learning but we have to think carefully about what we want to teach, when technology helps learning and when it may even hinder learning. We need to consider the content, the pedagogy and the technology. We need to select the best tools for the job and be developmentally appropriate.

Sometimes, the best technology for learning may be chalk, paint or blocks.