I was just looking through Lori St. Amand‘s tweets when I caught sight of this article about screen time. While the article really focuses on parents and their use of devices with kids, I can’t help but wonder if so many of the points could apply to the classroom as well. My use of technology in the classroom has evolved over the years, and sometimes I feel as though I’m caught in a cycle where I continue to go full circle. These past three years in primary grades (Kindergarten and Grade 1) has really had me thinking about how I use devices with students, when we use them, and when we put them away. This year, I’d say that we largely use devices for research purposes and to document learning: as students and as educators. For most of the day, the children don’t use devices at all, and when they do, they tend to take photographs and use PicCollage to write about classroom happenings.
I love this for many reasons! Harrison went back to the PicCollage that he made yesterday and added text (using letter-sounds and familiar words) to explain what was happening in each picture. He also told his mom that he uses the “confetti background,” so if she sees that, she’ll know the PicCollage is his. He’s getting her to check the blog to look for his PicCollages. Makes my heart happy! ❤️💙💜💛💚
We’ve tried other options, including coding apps, but have really noticed the change in our children’s behaviour and started to reconsider their classroom use. I was actually thinking about these coding experiences when I read this screen time article.
The first example shared in this article is of parents handing their four-year-old child an iPhone so that they can enjoy a restful dinner out. Do we attempt to do something similar in the classroom?
- Maybe it’s when we hand children iPads to play games during “free play time.”
- Maybe it’s when we give an iPad as a “reward” for completing their work.
- Maybe it’s when we put on a short video as children eat their lunch.
I share these examples as somebody that has done all of the above. These choices made sense to me at the time, and students have always loved these options. But as I think about my Self-Reg learning, I wonder about the impact that this technology has on self-regulation. Even when attempting to calm children down, are we actually dysregulating them? I also start to wonder why I made these choices. Was it about what I thought was best for kids, what I thought was easiest for me, or a combination of the two?
Reading about the impact that these high-tech games can have on children makes me think about coding. I wonder if children respond much as they do with a video game. I struggle with this, as despite my reservations about coding, I also see the value in developing these thinking and problem solving skills with kids. This makes me think of a conversation that I had with a fellow educator, Enzo Ciardelli. We spoke about the need to foster design thinking in children. Maybe we need to consider more low-tech ways to do this.
- What are building options for all grade levels?
- How can students use loose parts beyond Kindergarten?
- How might we use our outdoor spaces to foster these skills?
This last question is one that really stuck with me after reading the article: we cannot underestimate the value of this time outside. I see this every day in our outdoor learning time, and I’m thankful that the Kindergarten Program Document really emphasizes the importance of this. I know that recess gives all children some outside time, but what about outdoor learning options beyond Kindergarten? How might we use outdoor spaces to develop some of the skills (e.g., perseverance, problem solving, and design thinking) that we might now be attempting to develop with the use of technology?
This is some serious perseverance and problem solving! pic.twitter.com/jv8wkFmwmW
— Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca) April 13, 2017
Yes, I’m a huge user of technology. I never have a pen, but I always have at least a couple of devices on me. I read on the iPad. I journal through my various blog posts. I connect with people using social media. But I also get outside, converse with people face-to-face, and think critically about my use of screen time, especially before bed. I’m an adult, and I can work through these choices on my own. But as an adult, and an educator, how am I supporting children in making these choices? What could I do to help reduce some of the problems outlined in this article? This is not just a “parent problem,” and I wonder if we need a more united front. What do you think?