Technology Integration in the Early Grades


Technology Integration in the Early Grades 


                                         Authors: Britany Long and Megan Lykins

Children around the world.jpg

The early years of children’s physical, social-emotional, language and cognitive development are essential to positive growth. There is controversy around whether the influence of technology either takes away or supports positive growth in children. Our world is quickly being upgraded in technology every year and school districts find themselves deciding what technology should and should not go into the classroom. There are various levels of technology integration in the early grades. There is also the SAMR model that educators follow to help them integrate technology into classroom content. Knowledge of children’s development and technology can guide understanding and decision making when it comes to including technology into the classroom.


  Let’s Define Technology Integration

Technology Integration is the use of technology resources such as computers, mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, social media platforms, networks, software applications, the Internet, etc. -- in daily classroom practices, and in the management of a school.

Disclaimer: Technology is rapidly changing and vastly evolving, so willingness to embrace change is a big requirement in successful technology integration.

 Integrating Technology In Early Childhood Classrooms


Effectively Integrating Technology into the Classroom


  • Access to up-to-date, primary source material
  • Methods of collecting/recording data
  • Ways to collaborate with students, teachers, and experts around the world
  • Opportunities for expressing understanding via multimedia
  • Learning that is relevant and assessment that is authentic
  • Training for publishing and presenting their new knowledge

Levels Of Technology Integration

When technology integration in the classroom is seamless and thoughtful, students not only become more engaged, they begin to take more control over their own learning, too. Effective technology integration changes classroom dynamics, encouraging student-centered project-based learning. Listed below are various levels of technology integration in the classroom that varies from sparse to seamless. Seamlessly integrating technology is the goal


Sparse: Technology is rarely used or available. Students rarely use technology to complete assignments or projects.


Basic: Technology is used or available occasionally/often in a lab rather than the classroom. Students are comfortable with one or two tools and sometimes use these tools to create projects that show understanding of content.

: Technology is used in the classroom on a fairly regular basis. Students are comfortable with a variety of tools and often use these tools to create projects that show understanding of content.

Seamless: Students employ technology daily in the classroom using a variety of tools to complete assignments and create projects that show a deep understanding of content.


Despite the dramatic differences in resources and abilities from classroom to classroom, school to school, and district to district, it's possible to integrate technology tools in ways that can impact engagement and learning for all students. Teachers should not only focus on teaching students basic computer skills and tools, such as email, apps, and programs. Teachers should try their best to connect classroom content to computer skills as well.  


**View the video below for examples of a school in Lexington, Michigan, who effectively integrated technology in their elementary school.


Examples Of Types of Technology Integration


  • Online Learning and Blended Classrooms
  • Project-Based Activities Incorporating Technology
  • Game-Based Learning and Assessment
  • Learning with Mobile and Handheld Devices
  • Instructional Tools like Interactive Whiteboards and Student Response Systems
  • Web-Based Projects, Explorations, and Research
  • Student-Created Media like Podcasts, Videos, or Slideshows
  • Collaborative Online Tools like Wikis or Google Docs
  • Using Social Media to Engage Students
This is not an exhaustive list. You are not limited to only these examples. 

Current Practices In Education

The SAMR Model

The SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) Model, created by Dr. Ruben Puentudura, guides the process of reflecting on how we are integrating technology into our classrooms.




Advantages and Disadvantages Of Technology In Elementary Classrooms



  • Extends learning beyond the classroom - can be taken home
  • Builds student's technology expertise
  • Increse student motivation
  • Publishing for a real world audiance
  • Current information uhu
  • Differentiated student instruction
  • Different learning modalities
  • Availability for assistive technology for children with special needs.


  • Replacing teachers
  • Replacing physical materials such as books and concrete materials
  • Can be distracting to students or teacher
  • Easier to access off-task programs, assignments, websites etc
  • Disparity of access to the world outside of class.
  • Risk of privacy





Technology Integration In The World Children Live In Today


  • Early childhood educators must devote extra effort to ensure that the software in classrooms reflects and affirms children's diverse cultures, languages, and ethnic heritages.  

    • For example, all educational materials, and software should reflect the world children are living in currently. Meaning that it should come in multiple languages, reflect gender equity, contain people of color and of differing ages and abilities, and portray diverse families and experiences (Derman-Sparks & A.B.C. Task Force 1989; Haugland & Shade 1994).
  • When used appropriately, technology can support and extend traditional materials.

    • For example, transforming a classic math lesson using the SAMR Model.

  • Research points to the positive effects of technology in children's learning and development, both cognitive and social (Clements 1994; Haugland & Shade 1994).

  • In addition to developing children's abilities, technology also provides an opportunity for assessment. Teachers can assess their students informally and formally using diffent forms of technology integration.

  • Just as parents continue to read to children who can read themselves, parents and teachers should both participate with students in computer activities and encourage them to use computers and multimedia sources on their own and with peers.







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