For nine years of my teaching career, I was a traditional teacher teaching in the primary grades the best that I knew. I focused greatly on the core subjects, especially reading and writing. I used traditional best practices and employed technology the best I knew. And honestly, I felt like I was doing a pretty good job. A streaming video here and a phonics website there during Guided Reading and I thought, “Hey, I’m integrating technology into my instruction just fine!”
That was until I moved across town, switched districts, and found myself on a campus whose main focus is science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and where each students has his/her own digital device to use in the classroom and take home.
Well you see, I’ve always thought of myself being very techie in a sense that I have always been surrounded by computers and technology since I was a kid. But truly, nothing prepared me for what was coming my way and how educational apps and technology flipped my classroom and instruction.
At first, I must admit, I was skeptical and resistant. I studied the traditional methods and taught in a traditional school setting for a long time. My students did wonderfully, and I knew that when I sent them off to the next grade, I had done my best to prepare them the best I could. Furthermore, isn’t perfecting fine motor skills and building stamina to write with paper and pencil important anymore in the 21st Century?
And so I did some deep teacher soul searching into what kind of students I want to prepare for this century and what kind of students and citizens I want my OWN children to be when they start school? The more I thought about my methods, the more I knew that embracing both the traditional and 21st Century methods of teaching was the way and only way to go.
Slowly I began using various apps to enhance my students’ learning and understanding. I also found how feasible, time-saving, and easy it was for me as a teacher to share assignments and activities with my students and how interactive it can be for them!
My students were still learning those core concepts along with the mandatory standards, yet the thinking was deeper, the understanding was widened, and the connections were more meaningful than I had ever seen in the primary grades. From integrating videos and links into documents to allowing students to digitally praise and give constructive feedback to each other’s work, my classroom truly became a community of learners immersed a new digital world.
Furthermore, the engagement was clearly visible and the learning became more personal as students were given more options and opportunities to personalize their own learning and understanding.
Once I saw the benefits of a digital classroom, I began creating digital notebooks to enhance my students’ learning. The first time I showed my students our first digital notebook, they were so incredibly excited and could not wait to get started. I watched them as we went through the lessons together and saw how well they connected to the learning and proud of their own work.
As an educator, I will always find value and appreciation in traditional methods of teaching. However, going digital has allowed me to transform my teaching style to best fit my students’ needs, and that is the greatest reward of all.
Here’s an example of how students are able to respond digitally.
A post shared by Happy Days in First Grade (@happydaysinfirstgrade) on
If you would like a list of FREE Apps that I use in my classroom, click to the apple image.
If you are interested in Interactive Digital Notebooks that are perfect for the primary classroom, feel free to check out my Memorial Day Interactive Digital Notebook FREEBIE below!
Additional Interactive Digital Notebooks:
Ha is a 1st grade teacher turned 2nd grade teacher in Texas! She is in her 10th year of teaching and believes in hands-on, interactive, and differentiated instruction! She is also a wife to her high school sweetheart, mommy to her two sweet babies, and an avid traveler with babies in tow. For more fun teaching ideas and high-quality resources, you can find her @happydaysinfirstgrade on Instagram, Facebook, Teachers Pay Teachers, and her blog!