Ideas for Using Technology On the First Day of School

August 22, 2013
Sarah Jackson
Common Sense Media
San Francisco, CA
CATEGORIES Digital Literacy, In the Classroom

Kindergarten teacher Matt Gomez wrote this helpful post about how to incorporate technology on the first day(s) of school.

Gomez writes that his goals for the first day of school include showing parents and kids that technology is an important part of their learning, and that “learning and tech gives them a voice.” Technology also helps build the home–school connection by “giving parents a ‘window’ into our day.”

The first day of kindergarten often starts with some kind of school tour. When my son started kindergarten, the teacher took him and his classmates on a tour searching for missing gingerbread men (baked by parents the night before). The tour took them to various new parts of his school—the library, the principal’s office, the bathroom. Kids got acquainted with the building and had fun.

Gomez accomplishes this same task, and more, with his video tour, meeting and interviewing the school’s personalities along the way, all of which he posts on a classroom blog. 

We will take a walk to meet some of the important people in our school (librarian, principal, custodian, nurse, office manager) and ask them about their most important job in the school.  The kids will help ask the question and take the video. Then that video will be our first post on our classroom blog. This will give them something to talk about with their parents and show that the blog will be as pace to share their learning. I use the iMovie app to take all the videos and combine them into one video.

You can see a sample video tour in this post.

These tools aren’t just “fun” diversions—they’re quickly becoming new literacies along with reading, writing, and math. Some have recently argued that visual storytelling will be a new form of “writing” (film director Martin Scorsese agrees in this great article in the New York Review of Books). Others note that blogging is a gateway into learning digital citizenship skills, such as how to comment and interact with others in a constructive way online.

Gomez teaches in Dallas and has been teaching Kindergarteners since 2001. His blog is full of wonderful examples of how to use technology in the early elementary school classroom. One of my favorites— which dovetails with my post last month about using Twitter in the K classroom—is this one describing how his class used Twitter to interview local TV meteorologists. Via questions and live Tweet chats, the kindergarteners asked important questions like, “How do you know what the weather is going to be for the whole week?” and “Can there be lightening without clouds?”. 

Students saw pictures of the computers the meteorologist use and pictures of the meteorologists at work. More importantly, they got to interview adults with a passion for science. Best of all, they checked each morning if the weather forecast was correct.

Also thank you to Matt Gomez for sharing our digital citizenship classroom resources in a post earlier this summer.

We’d love to hear from the rest of you. Do you plan to use technology in the first days of school? How? Share your ideas in comments or on Twitter. We tweet @CommonSenseEdu.