Decoding the Impact of Technology on Early Childhood Education - MagicBox

Episode 1

Decoding the Impact of Technology on Early Childhood Education


Benjamin Cogswell

Educational Consultant and Kindergarten Teacher at Bardin Elementary School

The biggest thing is to start simple. Pick one tool and get kids to learn that tool well. They don't get to be masters of the tool. Get kids to create whatever you're doing. Don't just get kids to consume things online. Don't get them just to watch videos or get them to do programs where they're pushing buttons. Get them to create something, get them to record something because that's really going to show their learning, and it really helps them, especially when they're recording it. It helps them build language.

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Decoding the Impact of Technology on Early Childhood Education

Key Takeaways

  • Teachers may feel overwhelmed by the variety of technology tools and platforms available and may struggle to integrate them into their existing curriculum.
  • To overcome these challenges, teachers can start small by selecting a few key tools that align with their goals and teaching style and gradually build their technology skills and knowledge over time.

  • Technology should be used to support and enhance learning rather than replace traditional teaching methods.
  • Teachers can use technology tools to create interactive and engaging learning experiences, provide personalized feedback and support, and facilitate communication and collaboration among students.

  • Teachers should provide clear instructions and expectations for using technology tools and ensure that students have access to the necessary hardware and software.
  • Teachers should also monitor and assess student progress regularly and adjust their teaching strategies and use of technology accordingly.
  • Finally, teachers should continue to learn and explore new technology tools and trends and seek out professional development opportunities to enhance their skills and knowledge.


Husena Jadliwala: Hi, everyone. Welcome to Educator Insights. In our very first podcast, we will discuss how technology can help overcome the challenges in the life of teachers and improve learning for young children. So, welcome to today’s episode. I’m your host, Husena , from Magicbox, and our guest for today’s podcast is Ben. Ben is an educational consultant and kindergarten teacher at Bardin Elementary School. Ben, thanks for joining me, and welcome to today’s show.

Ben Cogswell: Well, thank you so much, Husena . I really appreciate being here, and I’m excited to chat with you.

Husena: So yes, thank you for taking the time and joining us here. You know, what would be a great point to start is if you could give us some background about how you got into your role at Bardin Elementary School and your journey since.

Ben: Well, you know, I started wanting to be a teacher from a very young age, and while I didn’t know exactly that I wanted to be a teacher, I did know that I wanted to work with kids and be in the school system. Originally, I considered becoming a counselor or something like that, but I ended up in elementary school education. Long story short, I earned my undergraduate degree in Stockton, California, and then I moved to Monterey, California, where I earned my masters. It was there that I met my wife, so we decided to stay in the area in Salinas, California. I started my teaching career at an elementary school called Martin Luther King Academy, where I began using an overhead projector. It’s not that long ago – sixteen years now – that I’ve been teaching, but back then, I used transparency films in the copy machine and wrote on the overhead projector. That first year, we were thrilled to get a mounted projector in the classroom. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I had always loved technology, but back then, we only had a computer lab that we could visit once a week, and I really loved working at that school.

Ben: But I had an opportunity to move schools in my district to a new school that was opening up with 1-to-1 devices, with iPads, and I just kind of thought that would be a cool experience. I went over there as a sixth-grade teacher for one year and experimented with lots and lots of learning, I should say, in the beginning. I learned a lot about implementing technology that year, and our district, and a lot of districts, were still new to implementing technology. I guess I did an okay job because they asked me at the school to be the technology coach, and I said sure, I’ll give it a try. Why not? I never imagined leaving the classroom. Then, two years after being the technology coach, the superintendent came and asked me, “Hey, would you be willing to be a technology coach for our whole district?” And so I said, “Well, I guess sure. I got to build a program across the district and work with a lot of teachers, training them with technology.” About three years later, I was ready to go back to the classroom. As I’m sure you know, there’s a big difference between sixth grade and kindergarten. So I tell people, like, I went from sixth grade to kindergarten, and people are like, “Ah, wow, did you do a bad job at your role? Were they trying to punish you because that’s such a drastic grade change right?”

Husena: It is.

Ben: From all my experience with technology, I felt a big push in the lower grades, and my four children loved their enthusiasm for life and learning. So, I took it as a double challenge and a triple challenge as a sixth-grade teacher. I saw lots of gaps in children’s education. Therefore, I started them from the bottom and get them up. I tried to implement technology in a meaningful way. So that’s pretty much trying to consolidate a very long journey into maybe a 2 to 3-minute story. That’s how I got into my current role at Bardin, and I have been teaching there for about five years now.

Husena: Wow, that is quite a story. Thank you for sharing. Some parts of the story really resonated with me, such as overhead projectors and going to the computer lab once a week. It’s crazy to think about how far technology has come. The kids are seeing in the classroom right now is so different from what we did and what you saw at the beginning of your career as well. Congratulations on being so adept at getting your hands on technology and learning to teach with it. It’s not very easy, I think, for any teacher, as you already have a lot to do, and then to learn new technology can always be tough. But what you said about using technology to teach children in a meaningful way that’s exactly what this is about. I think this is a good point to just kind of get your insight about a time when you specifically saw a positive impact of technology on a child’s learning.

Ben: Well, I remember, that’s a great question. I mean, there are always these moments, right? Where you see… But I just remember my first year in kindergarten. I had a mom come up to me about maybe three or four weeks into the year. You know, we were mostly through the year. The mom said to me, “At the beginning of the year, I was really worried about using all this technology and how much you were doing in the classroom. Then I slowly realized how much it was helping my son learn.” You don’t often get positive feedback all the time in the classroom, whether it’s from parents or students, more from kindergarteners than from sixth-graders. Just hearing that mom kind of say, “I didn’t think that this technology was going to help my son,” and now I can see what it’s doing to assist his learning, and I guess it wasn’t necessarily anything magical that I was doing, other than the fact that I guess, just kind of making sure to leverage it for differentiation, creation, and making sure that it’s helping with our engagement. So, I just feel like that’s kind of a general time, but it’s just amazing what that parent said. And just quickly adding on, I mean, my kindergartners use an app called Seesaw, and I don’t know if you’re familiar with Seesaw.

Husena: Yes I am, yeah.

Ben: But for those people who are listening that might not be aware, it’s a learning tool. It’s an online portfolio where you can push assignments out. Kids can record, kids can draw. It’s super simple and very powerful to use. But I just love hearing my students record their thinking and some of the insightful things that they can say when you give them the opportunity, because when they’re recording, it’s like nobody’s listening, so you never know what might come out of their mouth. It’s just magical also to hear whether they’re reading a passage, reading a sentence, or explaining their thinking with a math concept.

Husena: Yeah, that’s a great way to put it. I feel like when a student is given the space to share their thoughts, it gives you a better insight into understanding how they’re thinking about the concept you’re teaching in class as well. So, it’s really powerful what a tool like that can do. You mentioned not expecting the parent to say what they did, and that brings us to another point which is especially important in early childhood education. There’s a lot of talk about if technology is necessary for early childhood education, should we be getting students on screens so early? Is it good for them? What are your thoughts about using digital technology in early childhood education?

Ben: You know, I think. So it’s going to be different. This is a question back for you. It’s going to be a little different for you. But if you think about a traditional classroom, and I said, “You know, kids are using, you know, thinking maybe and with,” you know, not your non-ed tech educator lens, which may be hard. If I said, “What is the traditional classroom with kids on computers?” What are you imagining?

Husena: Yeah, I guess it would be there would be less interaction between the students, right?

Ben: Maybe like a quiet classroom where kids maybe have headphones on, and they’re clicking buttons, right? Maybe doing some program, and I just think that there are a lot of fallacies about how technology is used in the classroom. I mean, some of it’s true. Sometimes teachers sit kids down, and there are some programs that, excuse me, kids can do some really good learning on. But, for example, if you were going to walk into my classroom and see technology, you’re going to see kids engaged, you’re going to see kids talking, you’re going to see kids creating. I think, especially for the lower grades, everything needs to be balanced. I once had a colleague come up to me and say, ‘You must not use any paper. You must not go to the copy machine at all,’ because I used a lot of technology.

Ben: And, you know, I’m probably one of the people who’s there, like, at the copy machine the most because, you know, kids need paper, right? They need to learn how to write. They need to have practice with their penmanship, cutting, gluing, and hands-on manipulatives. All those things are important. But…

Husena: I agree.

Ben: These kids are different. Kids are growing up differently nowadays. I mean, you walk down the street and, this is what I find kind of odd, you go to a restaurant, and this doesn’t happen with all parents.

Ben: It’s kind of a roundabout way, but you go to a restaurant, and a kid is crying. And so, what happens? What do you think the parent does? A lot of the time nowadays, when a kid is crying in a restaurant at dinner, what happens?

Ben: So, what I see is, kind of going back, I feel like a lot of times, my point is, when parents are often handing kids phones, right? I feel like when you go to a meal, and you see a kid at a restaurant, maybe they’ll be crying, and the parents handing them their phone.

Ben: And what do the kids do on the phone? Half of the time, they play a game or watch a video. That’s why I think some parents and even other educators have this misconception that technology should only be used for kids to demonstrate what they know or for giving them a break. But for me, I feel like technology should be used to get kids interacting and engaged in their learning.

Ben: They should be creating something, whether it’s drawing, writing, or explaining a math concept. Instead of just having them sit there and click buttons, it’s better to use paper in the classroom. We can do our writing on paper, hold it up, take a picture of it, and then record ourselves reading it. It adds a level of practice. In a classroom, when kids share their work, it’s important to ask questions to get the point across.

Ben: When kids share with each other in the classroom, it’s a traditional classroom practice. How many kids do you think share at one time in a given classroom? What percentage would you say turn to their partner and share?

Husena: Yeah, I  guess it wouldn’t be a very high percentage if they’re on their devices.

Ben: Well, let’s say they’re not on their devices. Anytime kids are talking to each other, which is a good skill to have, I would say around 50% of kids are sharing at a given time in a traditional classroom setting.

Husena: That would be fine.

Ben: So, let’s say 50% of kids share when they talk to each other without devices. But if we send them to their computers and ask them to record themselves, for example, holding up a triangle and explaining it, with every kid having their own device, then it’s 100% of kids sharing. It’s not just about opening a device and hitting the record button. It’s about how we look at technology and how we implement it in the classroom.

Husena: A hundred percent. Exactly.

Ben: Technology in the classroom is often viewed in a traditional way, such as when we picture kids in a computer lab, where they sit and do a program for 30 minutes before leaving. This is what many people think of when they think of technology in the classroom. However, for me, technology is just a tool that we can use to enhance learning.

Husena: Right. Yeah, and you made a good point about parents, specifically, not really understanding how it might work in a classroom, separate from how it’s used at home.

Husena: Because when these parents were in the classroom, it was a different time. It was a computer lab time, and that’s how they’re imagining technology being used for their own kids in the classroom as well. But I remember reading a quote that went something like, “You cannot raise your children the way your parents raised you because your parents raised you for a world that no longer exists,” and that’s exactly what you said as well. Technology is now a part and parcel of life, and kids in school need to learn how to use technology from early on, unlike in our time, because it wasn’t as prevalent in daily life. But now it is, and we need to equip our children for that. So, that said, you did mention Seesaw as a good example where students are actually given the space to share their thoughts and all of that. But what tools do you use to teach your students, and what are some challenges or what are some great things about them?

Ben: Well, for me, with young students, one of the most important factors for any tool that I’m going to use is simplicity. Are the buttons clear?

Ben: Can kids get to where they need to get without too many clicks? Are there accessibility features such as text-to-speech available for students? How much reading is required for students to use the tools, and are the icons distinguishable? For example, is the start button green and the stop button purple? A lot of thought needs to go into tool selection. I follow the “less is more” principle and start by using Seesaw for the majority of the school year, allowing students to master the tool. As we progress, I introduce other tools, such as formative assessment tools, which can be used for instruction. I have about four favorite formative assessment tools that are suitable for younger children.

Ben: One of them is an app called Quizizz, and I love it because I can record audio or insert images for students to respond to. For example, I can record myself saying, “This is the word ‘cat,” and then students can look at the response and find the word ‘cat,’ right? I can also use it to prompt students to identify sounds.

Ben: And then students have to find the “a”. Blooket is another fun game where students really enjoy building these kinds of assessments or not even just assessments. It’s also just practice, right? “Get it building” kids’ fluency is another extremely fun formative assessment tool. Two other formative assessment tools I like to use are and 99 Math. I like these tools because we can do an activity, for example, “hey, we’re going to practice addition on paper,” and then we can design our own formative assessment that mirrors the paper activity. Those are the tools I use the most. There are some other ones depending on what’s going on in the year or the time of year. I would love to be able to use them more, but we don’t have access to it right now in our district. Scratch Junior is a great tool for some early readers, and some of it, of course, depends, we have touchscreen Chromebooks.

Ben: And so you know, that also depends on some of the tools that I might choose in my classroom, but those are definitely some of my favorite tools, and I guess again, just restating. It’s the simplicity that I can get students to participate in their learning in a very active way.

Husena: That’s really awesome, and I was a little silent there because I was actually writing down these tools as you mentioned them, just for my knowledge as well. And a lot of these tools, I have heard a lot about, and I have used Scratch Junior as well. Learning programming at an early age is also something that’s really important because programming is logic, and it just teaches kids to think with that type of clarity from a young age. So, you know, I think that’s a good point. And all the formative assessment tools that you’ve pointed out, making formative assessment less daunting helps students share their understanding a little bit better, and these tools kind of help with that. Sometimes, if a student has that fear of assessments or exams, having it in a formal way can be daunting for them, and using these types of formative assessment tools online, where technology makes it seem less scary, I think it’s really helpful, especially for children at such a young age. Thank you so much for sharing all of that. And we spoke earlier about, you know, sometimes there being a bit of pushback against using too much technology in the classroom, but researchers have found that digital activities do lead to a significant increase in…

Husena: engagement in the classroom, and you’ve kind of touched on this a little bit. But if you could give us more insight into how you might incorporate technology into your daily lesson plans in various activities to make learning fun, engaging, and interactive for your young students. Now, just to add on to this question a little bit, you mentioned the importance of doing hands-on activities. Making sure that they are practicing penmanship and are able to cut and glue. How do you sometimes put these hands-on activities together with some activities that might need technology, how do you incorporate both together?

Ben: That’s a great question, and you know, I really like blended learning. When I think about blending in unit learning, I personally use two terms – the term digital and the other term analog.

Ben: I don’t like to say “paper and computer” because in kindergarten, for example, you use a lot of analog tools. You use paper, a pencil, little teddy bear manipulatives, linking cubes, scissors, glue – I think anything tactile falls into the category of analog tools. Digital tools, on the other hand, could be a computer, or a robot you are programming. I share this because I really like to design my lessons around both analog and digital tools.

Ben: And so I think it’s important, and I haven’t seen a curriculum, a lot of times I see a curriculum, I digress from the point, but a lot of curriculums that I see designed by companies, they have an analog portion, and then the digital portion is like supplemental. And you know, it supports it, but it’s not really meant to be designed to be taught together. Or, on the other hand, there are some digital tools where they have a majority of their components online, and maybe the analog tools are supplemental. I really believe that we need to make these tools not supplemental to each other.

Ben: So, for example, when I think about a lesson, I always start with a standard, like what standard am I trying to teach? So, let’s talk about a math lesson, right? Now we’re working on subtraction, and so one day I might give…”

Ben: For example, I might give students some linking cubes, which are little cubes that they can connect and stack on top of each other. They’re a little bit like Legos but a little less fancy. So, I might give some students 10 linking cubes and say, “Alright, students, we’re going to have 10 linking cubes, and I want you to break off four linking cubes. One, two, three, four. Let’s count and break it apart. How many linking cubes do you have left?

Ben: How many linking cubes do you have left? Alright, you got it. You have 6 cubes left. So, you know, we have more of a concrete example. Maybe for a similar activity on paper, they draw 6 or 10 objects and cross out 4. So, we like to have that concrete example. But then, there are a few ways we can approach the same activity. For instance, we can take those 10 cubes, break off 4, and compare the number of cubes left with our partner. Did they take off 4 cubes or 6 cubes? Did you use the same amount? How many did you remove? Was it the same? Have a discussion with your partner. Great! Did you have that discussion? Did you talk about a number sentence you could write? Excellent! I like how you did that activity. Now, let’s get out of your computer and record yourself explaining how you demonstrated subtraction by having the 10 cubes and removing 4 cubes. Are you ready to do that? Go ahead and explain it to me the best you can. If you look at that example, all we are really doing is using technology to enhance the lesson, but it is not the focus of the activity.”

Ben: The focus of that lesson is getting the students to be able to explain their thinking. They explain it maybe first to the teacher before even to their partner. Then they explain it to their partner, and then they’re doing the same thing on the computer, right? So it’s allowing them to use these tools while emphasizing their ability to explain their thought process.

Ben: Both those digital and analog tools can be used at the same time. I call this a 3D task because literally all the kids are doing is recording and explaining their thinking. It can be done in the same way if you are working on a whiteboard. You write a problem down, and you write some.

Ben: Okay, I want you to write down this sight word sentence, and then you’re going to hold it up, take a picture, and read your sentence. So it’s the whole idea that not everything we’re doing with students needs to be on the computer screen. We can use manipulatives and take them off the screen. We can also use videos and interact in that way. That’s one way I like to support learning. Another way is by doing the same kind of activity, like the subtraction activity, where they use manipulatives first and then do an activity where they drag things around. For example, there are 10 cookies on a tray, and I want you to drag off some cookies. How many cookies are you going to drag off the tray? Four. So how many cookies do you have left? As you move these cookies, I want you to explain what you’re doing.

Ben: And so I really try to have activities that are not supplemental to each other, but rather activities that support each other. So whatever they’re doing in the analog world, they’re going to see the same standard or a very similar task in their digital world, and so they can transfer their learning seamlessly between the two.

Ben: They really are used to support each other, those tools, and I believe, especially in the younger grades, they need that balance of analog and digital. And as they grow up, I still think there’s a lot of benefit to using those analog tools because I know that in high school, maybe a lot of what they do is on their computer, and how can we take them off the screen a little bit?

Husena: Yeah, I fully agree about having that visual, having those manipulatives in your hand, and seeing it before going into an abstract version of the same concept. It’s so important to help students, whether they are young or in high school, so they have a better memory of it in the future. There are so many concepts that a student learns, especially in math, throughout the school year, and it’s important to have some things understood in a way that just lives in their brains. Giving them the opportunity to do so with something hands-on first and then bringing it back to a digital way, whether it is recording their understanding the way you mentioned or perhaps even completing some formative assessments on your tool, it links both together. I think that’s the point you’re trying to make, that both work together, and it’s not that one is the reason the student understood and the other is just supplemental. So I like that idea, and we really should think about having more of that in school. Thank you for sharing that.

Husena: And, you know, you did mention one activity earlier where you were using the linking blocks and then recording your thoughts after that. But have you ever had a time where you actually had a technology-based activity or project? If you can, please share an example of a successful one that your students completed.

Ben: So yes, we have many. I think a lot of it is, in kindergarten, we don’t necessarily do as big projects, although that’s always a goal for me to move forward and start getting them to.

Ben: But I think for me, some of the ways I love using technology, and again, this isn’t necessarily as much of a project, but one of my favorite things that I use technology for is differentiation.

Ben: So let’s take for example, my students. Their goal is to learn 100 sight words by the end of the year, and as you can imagine, do you think all students learn all those sight words at the same rate?

Husena: I don’t imagine so, yeah.

Ben: Right, and right now, honestly, I have students who have already learned 200 sight words, so they’re on their set of 200 to 300 sight words. I also have students who are still on level one and are still struggling to learn those first 10 sight words, not very many, but they’re still there.

Ben: So I love technology because it allows me to provide differentiation, again not as much of a project, but you know, it’s the way that they’re allowed to interact. So, for example, I have a formative assessment quiz where students, first what they do is…

Ben: Get their sight words out, which are, of course, a set of flashcards. I recorded a video of myself reading the flashcards, and students can follow along with the same flashcard as me. “Okay, get your red flashcards out. Let’s go ahead and read those flashcards together.” They’re able to practice them, and then on that same slide, they can click on a link to take a formative assessment quiz based on the flashcards they’re working on. The great thing about the formative assessment quiz is that it gives them instantaneous feedback. It tells them if they got the word right or wrong, and then they have to find it. I love this approach.

Ben: Because every student in the classroom gets to be where they need to be with technology, right? I can’t go and work with all of my students at once on the level that they need to be as a teacher, right? I can do some small groups, but I feel like every student being on the level they need to be is definitely more challenging. So, an activity like that is amazing because it allows students to be where they need to be.

Ben: Definitely, you know that some of the projects I’m completing are a little smaller, and that’s why I hesitate to do projects. But you know, just another really fun activity that students love is a story retelling. So, I’m sure you’re familiar with the story of the Three Little Pigs.

Husena: Yes.

Ben: And so, for example, in Seesaw, we can give them a background and then put some images of the 3 little pigs, a big bad wolf, and some houses. Then the students can move the characters around as they record and do a retelling. It’s amazing to see them create their own little videos. Again, it’s a 3-minute video of them doing a retelling, and it can be done with any story as long as you can do the manipulations. The great thing is every student has access to those things at one time.

Husena: Right.

Ben: Those are just not, again, necessarily as big of projects, but it’s always my goal to get students to interact. My next goal is to kind of get them to start creating videos, but I have to find the tool that I really want to use for my kindergarteners that makes them do more of the work rather than me carrying the brunt.

Husena: Yeah, I really agree with you. Especially when it comes to differentiation and using technology to support it. With so many students in the classroom, it can be a challenge to personalize their learning journeys. It’s easy to talk about but not so easy to implement in the classroom. To be able to ensure that students at different levels receive the appropriate support they need. For example, the student at level 1 might need more support to keep up, while the student at level 3 might need more challenges to keep them engaged. Technology can definitely help with this. So there’s the concept of exit tickets at the end of the lesson, during the teaching of a concept.

Husena: You mentioned some tools that you use for formative assessment. Do you also use these tools to assess and evaluate student learning and progress and make better decisions in your classroom? Maybe some analytics tools or something similar that you could recommend to our listeners and that you find useful?

Ben: Well, all of those tools I think are great. I think some of it is not just the tools but how you’re using the tools. So, one aspect is this whole notion that previously students would take a test, and I think some of this has changed. They take a test.

Ben: They complete the test, and then they get the grade. That’s the grade they receive because teachers don’t necessarily have the time to make another copy or grade the test again. But now we have some online tools where we can create tests and mix the question and answer order.

Ben: What if we said, “I want you to take this online quiz. We’re going to take it, you know, and I’m not going to take your lowest score. I’m going to give you multiple opportunities, and I’m going to take your best score.” So, part of it is thinking about how these tools give us the option to give students multiple chances to succeed.

Ben: The other thing is really using some of these assessment tools. There are some strategies called edu protocols. And there’s one edu protocol that’s called the fast and the curious. So what happens in the fast and the curious is you use these formative assessment tools to drive your instruction. So think about it as a pretest. I want to teach my students blends, right? Blue, cur, and so I give them a quiz, and they take the quiz on blends, and their first score comes out, and the score is 60%. So I look at the questions they missed the most, and I teach them right away.

Ben: You know, all right? The six questions that they really need help with, let’s go ahead and do a quick review. Let’s practice them. Let’s take the quiz again. What do you think is going to happen to the score, hypothetically speaking, if I do a good job teaching? It will go up a little bit, right? Still, they need some more practice.

Husena: It should go up. Yeah.

Ben: The next day, I do the same quiz, I look at the quiz questions they missed the most, and I have the students take the quiz again. What do you think is going to happen to the score?

Husena: Your point is that by focusing on the areas where the students need improvement, their scores should improve as well, right?

Ben: Yeah, and then also through the repetition, it kind of helps with things that require fluency, like vocabulary, letter sounds, and other things that need more development and practice over time. It also helps transfer information from short-term to long-term memory.

Ben: So if you think about your traditional vocabulary instruction where you do things like day one, let’s do a word search, day two, let’s review the definitions, day three, let’s do this. If you repeat this same cycle, maybe by day four, and in a quick period of time, kids will have mastered those words.

Husena: I completely agree with you about repetition. I know there’s sometimes pushback about having too much repetition or practicing something so much that it becomes pure memorization, but it’s not necessarily true. The more you practice something, the more it commits to your memory, and it helps you understand as well.

Ben: Also, sorry, especially because for me, if you gave me a paper quiz with the same questions in the same order, I was one of those kids who could just look at the question and know the answer in my brain.

Husena: Right.

Ben: Versus now with some of these tools we can randomize the question order and we can randomize the answer order right.

Husena: That’s so true. Thank you for sharing that. We are reaching the end of this session, but I wanted to quickly ask you about your knowledge of different tools and technology trends in education. You mentioned being a technology coach, so I’m sure you have a lot of exposure to these things. How do you keep up with the way technology changes these days and integrate the latest trends into your teaching? Additionally, how do you share this information with parents so that they can help their child’s learning at home?

Ben: I think just some of it is, for example, an app called Seesaw. Every time the students complete an assignment, if I hook up the parents and Seesaw with their email and phone number, then the parents can be notified, and they get to see their students’ work.

Husena: And do you find that parents actually engage and listen and perhaps even come back to you with what they heard?

Ben: Yeah, sometimes, but definitely more at the beginning of the year, right? You definitely have more parents engaged at the beginning of the year, but as the year progresses, you can still see which parents have viewed the information because it gives you all the analytics.

Husena: Okay yeah.

Ben: If they have seen it or if they haven’t seen it, right? It gives you all those analytics, and so you know it’s just such a great tool for immediately letting parents know where their kids are at. Plus, it’s great for when you’re doing conferences; you can show, “This is where your kid was at in the beginning of the year, and this is where they’re at now.” And being able to send messages to them so quickly.

Ben: It is very handy. So, I think just using messaging apps and the fact that many of my parents speak a different language, I can send them a text in English, and as long as it’s in a typing message format rather than a PDF, it will translate it to the language on their phone. And so, it definitely has helped with parent communication, and parents knowing where their kids are at and how they’re doing.

Husena: That’s super helpful as well. Of course.

Husena: Yeah, and that’s so important. Thank you for sharing that as well. So as we wrap up, for the benefit of our listeners, what are your top three tips for incorporating technology in the classroom, especially for teachers who haven’t really tried this much?

Ben: So I think the top 3 tips is, the biggest thing is to start simple, right? Pick one tool and get kids to learn that tool well. Sometimes we move from tool to tool to tool, and kids kind of lose that. They don’t get to be masters of the tool. So, I think just start simple with one tool. Also, I think get kids to create whatever you’re doing. Don’t just get kids to consume things online. Don’t get them just to watch videos or get them to do programs where they’re pushing buttons. Get them to create something, get them to record something because that’s really going to show their learning, and it really helps them, especially when they’re recording it.

Ben: It helps them build language, and then the other thing is, to be patient because the technology is not going to work sometimes; it’s not going to work right. And so, sometimes people give up, but understanding that it’s not working today, let’s put it away and try again tomorrow.

Husena: These are great tips, Ben. Thank you, especially the last one about patience. It’s sometimes difficult to be patient, especially in a classroom when your students are looking at you, but you have to try and try again. Technology doesn’t always work, and that’s entirely true as well.

For those listening in, I hope these tips were useful for you. We would love if you could also share your own experiences and ideas for using technology in the classroom. You can do so on social media and tag us with the hashtag #MagicEducatorInsights.

So, Ben, thank you so much for joining us today for our very first Educator Insights podcast. We really appreciate your insights, and we look forward to you and our audience joining us in future podcasts.

To our listeners, please leave a review for us and tell us more about topics in EdTech that interest you. Have a great day!

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