Great Tech Expectations: What Should Elementary Students Be Able to Do and When? | Edutopia
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Great Tech Expectations: What Should Elementary Students Be Able to Do and When?

Mary Beth Hertz

K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA
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First off, let me clarify that I am not a proponent of expecting all children to learn at the same pace. Why all third graders are expected to be at x reading level by January is beyond me. That said, I think it's a fair assumption that there are certain skills that we hope our students have by a certain age in order to help them reach their full potential. This also applies to tech skills.

I teach in a computer lab every day, with classes ranging from kindergarten through sixth grade rotating through my lab every 45 minutes. I have the luxury of seeing what my students can accomplish and I understand how to scaffold their learning so that when they reach a higher grade I know they will have the required repertoire of skills to be successful in whatever projects we are working on and at whatever school they may end up in when they leave me.

Here are some skills by grade level that I aim to have my students obtain. Each skill is rated per grade as either an Introductory (I), Developing (D) or Applied (A) Skill.

(Please keep in mind that I teach in a high-poverty school where many kids do not have access to computers, iDevices or the Internet at home.)

Skill K 123456
Log into a computer using a one-word single sign-onA___________
Log into a computer using your own personal accountIA A A A A A
Log into web-based tool accounts I D A A A A A
Find keys on the keyboard to construct sentences and type your name I D A A A A A
Know how to make a capital letter using Shift I D A A A A A
Type using two hands I D D D A A A
Type at least 15 WPM __ __ I D A A A
Type at least 20 WPM __ __ __ I D A A
Type at least 25 WPM __ __ __ __ D D A
Know some basic keyboard shortcuts I D D D D A A
Know how to copy/paste __ __ I D D A A
Save a file I D D A A A A
Open a file I D A A A A A
Understand file paths I D D D A A A
Locate files and navigate file paths independently I I D D A A A
Know how to organize files I I I I D D A
Navigate a browser (back, forward buttons and tab) I D A A A A A
Know how to evaluate websites for accuracy and relevance I I I D D A A
Know how to leave a useful comment for a peer I I D A A A A
Practice good netiquette when commenting I I D D A A A
Know how to use tools like Edmodo or Schoology to discuss, share and blog about course content __ __ __ __ D D A
Collaborate with peers on digital projects I I I D D D A
Begin to look for solutions to real-world problems through the lens of technology I I I D D D D
Know a system for bookmarking/saving sites __ __ __ I D D A
Use a tool like Diigo to compile resources __ __ __ __ __ D D
Be familiar with basic menus within applications I D D D A A A
Independently use a drawing program (like TuxPaint) I D D A A A A
Complete graphic organizers using software like Kidspiration I D D A A A A
Take and edit photos using PhotoBooth or Picnik I D D D A A A
Insert photos into projects I D D A A A A
Download and upload photos I D D D A A A
Create and edit video I I D D D D D
Be able to synthesize information from one place to another (i.e. graphic organizer to comic, web information into graphic organizer) I I D D D A A
Compose short stories using a web-based tool like Storybird I D D D A A A
Compose and format longer stories using Word Processing software I I D D D A A
Create basic presentations using tools like PowerPoint I I D D D A A
Have a basic understanding of programming through programs like Scratch __ __ __ __ I D D
Be able to show what you know through a variety of tools __ __ __ I D D A
Know how to build a website or wiki, including images, citations and video __ __ __ __ I D A
Write and maintain a personal blog __ __ I D D D A
Know vocabulary like Desktop, monitor, CPU, mouse, keyboard, application, program, browser I D A A A A A
Have a basic understanding of copyright I D D D D A A
Understand and follow copyright rules and guidelines I D D D D D A
Cite sources __ __ __ I D D A
Know what kinds of information you should/shouldn't share online I D D D A A A
Know how to handle cyberbullies I D D D D A A
Know how to configure privacy settings __ __ __ __ I D D

This is a rough framework and in no way representative of everything that students should know. I am one-hundred percent sure that I missed some things along the way and that many people will argue with some of it, but that's why we blog, right?

Please let me know what I may have left out or anything you think is in the wrong place or doesn't need to be there at all.


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Mary Beth Hertz's picture
Mary Beth Hertz
K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA

I feel your pain! It is very hard to a)build continuity b) do exciting projects like Skyping when you have 600 kids 45 min/week! This coming year I am teaching less than I taught last year. In a good way. Using this matrix, I have begun to map out and plan one unit per grade per report period that is tied to what the kids are learning in Science. Through the content lens I will address and teach the appropriate skills to each grade. I found that this past year was my most successful year because I did less 'covering' -- trying to cram as much as I could into the year--- and more long-term projects. My kids learned more, retained more and were more confident applying their skills to new situations. I'm sure retention is an issue for you as well. Sometimes it feels like we have to spend the beginning of the period just reminding the kids of what we did last week!

Let me know if you're interested in taking a look at what I've started.

Sharon Plante's picture
Sharon Plante
LD teacher/Dir. Of Tech Southport, CT

Wonderful resource as I am outlining our curriculum. This will be very helpful! Thank you for sharing

Charlie's Desk's picture
Charlie's Desk
Elementary School Computer Lab Teacher

Absolutely, retention is a problem, especially with grade 2. I would love to see what you have started to develop as I too plan to go the project route integrating the technology skills into those projects. There are two big reasons. First, your reason, it is more meaningful and fun which results in better understanding, retention and ability to apply the skills in other areas. Our district recently adopted Google Apps for Education and project-based methodology lends itself better to utilizing Web 2.0 tools. Now, I just need admin to relax and reduce their fears so they open make more of the Google Apps tools available to students.

Charlie's Desk's picture
Charlie's Desk
Elementary School Computer Lab Teacher

Exactly! One can never assume technology knowledge for students. However, one thing I have found is that although there may be some divide in terms of SES and knowledge, much of the so-called knowledge "haves" have is not necessarily what we want them to learn! Yes, they can play games better than any adult, they can text until their thumbs fall off, they can find any kind of music they want. But, they need to learn to work collaboratively, understand trusted sources, learn how to become good, appropriate social digital citizens, understand content ownership, etc. And, along with that be able to save and find a file when necessary! :-)

Deb Boisvert's picture

I just happened to read this post before we started three days of work to rewrite out pk-8 tech integration guide. We loved the format and used it for a starting off point for our version. We cross referenced it with the NETS for students and the assessment tool we have built to evaluate student digital portfolios. We would like you official permission to use your work (and credit it) in our expanded version.

Wendy Noun's picture
Wendy Noun
fifth grade teacher

Thank you for this matrix. As a fifth grade teacher who is realizing that I need to integrating more technology into my lessons, this matirx is a good resource for me and where to lead my students. My school doesn't have a computer lab. Each classroom has 3 Netbooks in classrooms, with our wireless connection not always being dependable. So, to say the least, using technology is sometimes frustrating. I beleive that I need to get my students use to the keyboard and word processing as well as other forms of technology that can be integrated into my lessons. Being new to a lot of this, your matix lets me know what I should be expecting from my students. I think providing my fifth graders with some sort of pretest at the beginning of the year, to see what they can already do, might be eye-opening. Though many children are tech savvy, are they knowledgable in the basics? I wonder!

SweetD's picture

As a first grade teacher I am always worried that I am pushing too hard or not enough in terms of what my students can do on the computer. This matrix is a great guide to as to what areas I should push a little more for my students to do and what area should I either fall back on and provide more opportunities for practice. I like the Kidspiration idea for webbing concepts.

Chris Boulanger's picture
Chris Boulanger
Fourth Grade Math and Science

I love that you created a matrix for this. Teachers are slowly realizing that it is becoming an added responsibility to make sure our students are not only fluent readers and mathematicians but also fluent technologically. I liked the inclusion of privacy settings as a skill on there, and introducing it at an early age. The only thing that I would add would be Word processing software and spreadsheet software. As a math and science teacher I use both and spend quite a bit of time teaching them the ins and outs and how to navigate around.

Jenny Carlson's picture

Mary Beth, thank you for this matrix! I've recently accepted a Instructional Lab teaching position for preK-5th grades that will be based partly in the computer lab and partly in the science lab to work on math and science skills. I've been working on my Masters degree for Educational Technology but have not yet had the chance to figure out which skills go with which grades- this matrix gives me an excellent starting point. My students are also extremely low-income so the lack of computers and Internet access is similar. It's very helpful to see how the specific skills stack up as the grades progress- makes planning activities much simpler!

Sara's picture

I am moving grade levels this year and will be teaching first grade for the first time. I agree, this matrix will be a great guide for me next year especially! Thanks for making it and sharing with us Mary Beth!

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