I taught technology to kindergarten through eighth graders for almost fifteen years (now I teach grad school classes). Parents and colleagues were constantly amazed that I could get the littlest learners to pay attention, remember, and have fun with the tech skills required to grow into competent, enthusiastic examples of the digital generation.
I have a confession to make: It’s not as hard as it looks. Sure, those first few kindergarten months, when they don’t know what the words enter and backspace mean, and don’t understand why they can’t grab their neighbor’s headphones or bang on their keyboard, I do rethink my chosen field. But that passes. By January, every parent tour that passes through my classroom thinks I’m a magician.
What’s my secret? I teach every child to be a problem solver. If their computer doesn’t work, I have them fix it (what’s wrong with it? What did you do last time? Have you tried…?) If they can’t remember how to do something, I prod them (Think back to the instructions. What did you do last week? See that tool—does that look like it would help?) I insist they learn those geek words that are tech terminology (There’s no such thing as earphones. Do you mean headphones? I don’t understand when you point. Do you mean the cursor?) No matter how many hands are waving in my face, I do not take a student’s mouse in my hand and do for them, nor will I allow parent helpers to do this (that is a bigger challenge than the students. Parents are used to doing-for. They think I’m mean when I won’t—until they’ve spent a class period walking my floorboards.). I guide students to an answer. I am patient even when I don’t feel it inside. My goal is process, not product.
By the end of fifth grade, here are the tech skills my students do:
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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.