10 ways to use edtech for KS1/2 impact

Rachel Jones

Rachel Jones, who loves sharing ideas, is a Google Certified Teacher interested in creativity and innovation in the classroom. She thrives on trying new things and engaging and empowering students. Her blog was a finalist in the 2013 EduBlog awards and was recommended by The Guardian as a must-read for 2014.

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[Originally published 26th May 2015]

Young children are growing up in a world where touchscreens are normal. Not only that; they have never lived in a world without the Internet. With that in mind, it is important to embed the use of technology across the curriculum at Primary level so that their natural curiosity about the world can be encouraged by technology. This is especially true in many schools where children work on cross-subject, project-based learning style topic work, which naturally lends itself to child led exploration of a topic - of which using IT can be a valid and exciting part. This is ten ways teachers of younger children can use IT to improve learning in their classroom.

1. Green screening. Nothing captures the imaginations of younger pupils like being a part of the world they are exploring. Learning about the weather? Make a weather forecast in a monsoon! Learning about Antarctica? No problem, pretend to be a penguin - guaranteed to engage even very young pre-writing children. We use a pop up green screen for easy transportation, and the Green Screen app by Do Ink. Other uses are providing a background (and context) to literacy work - the only limit is your own imagination.

2. Organizing ideas. Younger children (and lets face it, older ones too) can really benefit from organising their ideas. Popplet is an app and web-tool that helps learners to create interactive mindmaps. These can help them to clarify their thinking, for example into a timeline or developing arguments. Children can also include photographs of their previous work to help them make links to learning from other lessons.

3. Developing literacy. Using an app such as Comic Life, Key Stage One children can develop their literacy skills by captioning their own images. You can see here the year one class were learning about computers, and they have worked using written prompts on the board to learn not only about the computer, but also add captions.

4. Digital Reports. A really simple but effective idea. Whenever a class goes on a school trip, you give one child an iPad (in a very robust case!) and appoint them as the class ‘Digital Reporter’ for the day. They can take photos or videos - I would set a limit of 20 so that you don’t end up with thousands! You can them use these with Book Creator to create a record of the day that can be shared with parents. I also make a lanyard with a ‘Digital Reporter’ badge so the child feels really important.

5. Blogging. Many schools now encourage teachers to have class blogs. Learners respond well to feedback from someone other than their class teacher, it gives them a link to the outside world, and will drive up standards of writing as children do their best as work is public. The Hundred Word Challenge is an excellent example of this, where children respond to a writing prompt in 100 words. This is run by @TheHeadsOffice. You might also like to consider Quad blogging, run by @DeputyMitchell.

6. Sphero. It may seem like a toy, and you wonder why I would recommend it, but what better way to engage young children in not only ICT but maths? We share our Spheros around but the reception; children have named theirs and use the draw-and-drive app to demonstrate their understanding of shape. It adds a lot of fun and excitement to the lesson when your circle is rolling around on the floor and not just being drawn on a piece of paper. They make a great starter to a robotics or control topic too.

7. Stop motion. Why not use Lego to create short stop motion film relating to e-safety or bring the story you wrote to life? Create a moving picture of a piece of artwork, you can do it with any digital camera and then combine your images. Its great for getting the children to work as a team as well as thinking about planning movements. It’s time-consuming, but well worth the effort and a great class project.

8. Yakit kids. This app lets you bring anything to life. It could be a speech you wrote as Winston Churchill or poster that you made for maths. It allows you to add a mouth and then speak; you can change your tone and pitch for added fun. Why not use it to get the children to have an object they made explain its own design decisions or a computer explain what each part of it does.

9. Time delay. Why not record a science experiment with time delay and see it come to life? This works really well with chromatography. We use iMotion, but there are lots of great apps that do the same thing, even creating a capture of the moving clouds is a great inspiration, or set it up to record the cress growing.

10. Google Earth. What better way to transport the class to the site of the volcanoes or the place the Egyptians walked? They love flying along coastlines and seeing the changes in the landscape unfold around them. Use it for Geography or History, fly around cities and help children to get a real understanding of the world we live in and all its wondrous environments.

There are now so many pieces of great technology available. We need to embrace the changes as they happen and be free enough in our thinking to let the children take control of how they want to present their work. They might not all be confident enough to stand in front of a camera and make a video, but they could record their voice and have their picture talk to you. We are often scared of change and nervous of the unknown; start to let the children decide how to share their ideas with you and be amazed by the results you get. Utilise technology not only for the children but also for you, use it to become inspirational in your lesson starters and watch you clas engagement grow and learning improve.

What would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments!

This article was co-written by:

Co-written by:

Fiona Price is the head of ICT at Stroud School in Romsey, Hampshire. She loves being a bit of a geek and inspiring children to develop their own IT skills, exploring the ways they can present their ideas and share the things they know.


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