In what ways can technology be integrated into the classrooms of lower level elementary grades? More specifically, in what ways could these younger students use technology on their own, in order to complete parts of lessons, since they most likely have a minimal understanding of how to use technology effectively?

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I teach second grade. I tend to use iLife with students to create podcasts, and imovies as a performance assessment for new learning. I also use a Smartboard from the moment the children enter the classroom to the moment of dismissal. Often creating lessons, and using interactive websites. I received 2 iPads from another grant. They are an interesting addition to the mix. I do all record keeping of the children's literacy development on my iPad and the children work in small groups using the Smartboard and the iPads. In other words, when they rotate into technology a group of four kids, two are at the smartboard and two are using the iPads. It's a lot of fun. I also have a class blog which is utilized for all homework. Still learning, but that's a far as I've come... today.
Well, let me give you and idea, my partners and I have developed a new community for teachers and students called StudyBuddyCampus. It is free and it represents our vision of the future for the use of technology in the classroom. Our goal is to revolutionize the delivery of education by combining an interactive game like experience with the latest educational content. We have several teachers and students testing our Beta site at http://www.studybuddycampus.com, and we are constantly releasing new features. Given the topic of your discussion, I thought you might be interesting in taking a look, and if you have the time, we would love to receive feedback from people with your kind of experience.

Best Regards.
Technology can be implemented in the lower level elementary grades in many ways, they can use podcasting, wikis, digital storytelling and much more which are very easy to use, and young children will love.
Power points I think younger students can get the grasp of, it might be fun for them to create a little slide show on what they have learned by adding images or a few words. Maybe even blogs if they can understand the concept of posting to questions the teacher asks, taking polls on blogs, giving their opinion on ideas or thoughts that have been presented to them in lessons.
There are websites, lesson plans, and online games for anything you want to teach. For example, http://www.spellingcity.com, http://pbskids.org, http://www.multiplication.com, and the list could go on forever. My students create some kind of presentation every couple of weeks. I only use free sites/downloads. My favorites are http://edu.glogster.com, http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/photost..., and http://fluxtime.com/animate.php. I use Skype and Twitter to stay connected with parents, students, and experts. I could rattle on forever about technology!
I visited one of your links, the glogster edu. The main page grabs your attention and makes you want to create one yourself. The website definitely makes you think that creating a glog would be quite enjoyable. I can see being able to utilize this technology with most grades and levels. I was impressed that the glogster edu has been stated to meet and exceed the standards required for content areas and the national educational technology. There are numerous features such as graphic galleries, animations, and web cam that allow the freedom to create a page to fit their own personality. There are so many ways to use the glogster in and out of the classroom. The key features such as the search engine help keep it simple; you don't have to open up another page to search for a specific topic. I like that they link examples of other glogs; useful for those creating for the first time. It is also extremely helpful in getting ideas from others point of view. A main benefit is that it's student friendly, because then they will want to interact with the website and not only in class. Students can use it for homework, class projects, research reports and many other assignments. I find this technology wonderful because it can be integrated into all content areas.
One thing you could try is if you have ipods or it may be available via the seasme street website is their word on the street vodcast. It is a great way to help build vocabulary among younger childern. You could then grow the experience into a project where your students create your school's own word on the street that they research, act out, film/peform for their peers.
Here are some fun interactives:
http://www.alline.org

Here are some lessons:
http://euroict3.blogspot.com
http://euroict4.blogspot.com (my favorite)
http://euroict5.blogspot.com

I hope you find them useful!
You can stop by my class page. I have all the activities we've followed for the last year. They're all tied into classroom units of inquiry as well as skills-based projects. The one I've linked to is for 5th grade, but I have one for each grade level. Let me know if you'd like a different one.
Before youngsters enter kindergarten, if they are exposed to technology they can use it as long as the written language is not involved. I have experienced 5 year olds operating camers, navigating websites playing computer games and operating the functions on a cell phone. These kids don't understand that this is supposed to have a higher level of difficulty than playing with their traditional toys. Whatever technology you want elementary students to try - I would bet they would have little trouble using it after they have been shown the ropes!

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