As I'm reflecting on my experiences at GTA and trying to make sense of my next steps, this revelation from my aunt angered me a bit. I teach at a K-8 school and sometimes hear elementary teachers say, "We won't use this or my kids can't do that." But, I've seen it. My 5 year old niece regularly plugs away at my brothers old laptop. I don't pay attention to what she is doing, but she is certainly doing it with purpose. While directing my school's musical, a parent that was helping me would regularly bring her 3 year old to rehearsals. That 3 year old would take her iphone out of her mom's purse and knew enough to open a video app, choose, and play the video she wanted to watch.
How do these kids learn to do these things? Their parents give them access and the freedom to use and learn. Unfortunately, some parents do not. And thus, it is important for teachers to give kids that access.
A kindergarten teacher I talked to recently was getting an IWB the same brand as mine (Interwrite). She was asking me what tablet she should get to control her board remotely. Rather than use the tablet provided by Interwrite, I told her I use an iPad2 with VNC to control mine. No sense in getting an Interwrite tablet that only does one function when I can get an iPad and use it for multiple applications. Her response was, "Well, my kids couldn't use an iPad. They couldn't hold it and use it right." I told her I was sure there was a case that you could get that makes the iPad kid proof. And, low and behold, there is. She still went with the Interwrite pad.
We even had a 3rd grader this year get a Facebook page (with his parents' permission) and began messaging all the older kids.
That is the problem I foresee by assuming elementary kids can't or don't use computers: if they aren't taught appropriate and productive uses for them, they will find the inappropriate and unproductive uses.
Elementary teachers out there who aren't using computers with their kids, get on it. They are using computers, tablets, and devices. And push them. Don't just play typing games. Let them collaborate, let them produce original content. It is possible. And, it will make my job easier when they get to 7th grade and I don't have to spend so much time breaking bad habits.
People like Rich Colosi, who was at the GTA with me, and Diane Main, another GCT, have done a lot of amazing technology projects with elementary kids, among many others.
If you are concerned my aunt will recognize herself in this post, don't worry, if she "doesn't use Google", she will never find it. And, if she does, well then hopefully it will convince her to connect her students with technology.