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

HS Art/Tech 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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Lori Callister's picture

Great grid. I'd like to offer a resource for interactive and engaging lessons for elementary students - EasyTech by We offer free teacher accounts, and with that account, you can select a sampler of's EasyTech, which is aligned to the ISTE NETS. On our website you can try out sample lessons for various grade levels - visit And for free teacher accounts, visit The free Teacher Accounts also include the full EasyTech Online Safety curriculum.

Connie's picture
First grade teacher from Minnesota

Technology has been on our minds in our district. We just went through a restructuring of our district which resulted in updated technology in all of our schools. We have many questions about what is appropriate for each grade level. This matrix will be a huge help.

Mary Beth Hertz's picture
Mary Beth Hertz
HS Art/Tech Teacher in Philadelphia, PA

Glad to hear it, Connie! Let me know if you have any questions or ideas for improving it!

Heather's picture

I just recently found this, and It is exactly what I was looking for, trying to develop myself. Do you have anything for older grades? Or know of a good resource?

Thank you, and great blog.

Mrs. K's picture

I have been asked to teach 2nd and 3rd grade technology this year. Although I learn quickly when it comes to technology, I've never had any specific training to teach technology (I'm really a music and Spanish teacher by trade). I only will be seeing each group of kids once a week for 40 minutes. How many times a week and for how long do you have each of your classes? I know that the school wants me to focus on touch-typing because the kids will need to start taking written tests online in the spring, but do you think I'll have time to do anything other than the typing program? I would really appreciate your advice. Thank you!

Ernie Delgado's picture
Ernie Delgado
Co-Founder BEYOND Technology Education

Mary Beth,

I just came across this post from 2011. There are still some very applicable ideas you pose. We have developed a scope and sequence as well for technology curriculum for elementary students. I know that many computer teachers are tasked with creating their own curriculum and keeping it current every school year. On top of that there is the additional work of integrating tech skills with content specific classroom lessons. That is the problem we have solved with our technology curriculum for elementary students. I hope you find it intriguing!

Sydney Schneider's picture

I love all the helpful sites that everyone has brought in. We need to remember that these children are just learning how to use computers. I remember when I was in first and second grade using the computers every week at school. It is extremely important to teach children to do something as basic as typing. I meet so many people in college courses who barely know how to type and it takes them so much more time to get their homework done. As educators it's our job to prepare our students for higher education and careers and in this time that heavily includes being able to do the things listed. Thanks for your article Mary! I find it very beneficial in understanding where the average age group should be in the certain skill sets!

Jmorgan's picture

I find this to be very interesting. I am currently working towards my bachelors in special education and one of the courses I am currently taking happens to be a class on integrating technology into education. What really amazes me about this chart happens to be the fact that students are starting to learn how to type starting in the second grade and by sixth grade they should be able to type 25 words per minute. I didn't start learning how to type until I was in seventh grade. Even when I finished eighth grade I hadn't fully learned, I ended up teaching myself the rest. The fact that students are learning all these technological skills at a younger age is amazing.

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