San Diego Family October Issue

Page 20

Dr. Jenny Pieratt

Trusted Educational Tech Tools: A guide for parents

This year families have developed a new dependency on technology. From doctor and vet visits, to workouts, school assignments and work meetings, technology is often required for our current state of survival. With a surplus of options just a click away, how do parents know what’s reliable and safe, and what actually supports learning? How do parents determine what educational tech tools are a good investment of screen time for kids? While reviewing technology tools for children to use at home, here are things to consider and questions to ask: 1. Does it ensure learning? Does the app, program or tool actually teach something of value? Does it allow for application of academic content or important skills? The answer is yes if the tech tool actually identifies which standards it addresses and when students will engage with those standards. Also, after students have interacted with the technology,

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they should be able to articulate something new they learned. 2. Can it be personalized? In education this is often referred to as “adaptive” technology, meaning it adapts to a student’s level based on how she is performing when she interacts with it. If it’s not adaptive, check for filters to identify your child’s grade level or reading level, so that appropriate content is provided. 3. Does it provide resources for parents? Turning your kid loose with the hope that they learn something of value is risky business. I like to see how my kids are performing on standards and have access to tools to help them, if needed. 4. Does it encourage a love of learning? Learning is meant to be fun and technology can definitely contribute to the fun factor. The last thing anyone wants is for kids to “plug in”, be bored to tears,

and then associate learning with negative feelings. While reviewing technology, see if your children find it interactive and interesting. Ask for their feedback. As an educator and parent, the following educational tech tools check all the “yes boxes” for me. Note: All offer a free version, with optional paid upgrades, but the upgrades aren’t necessary to reap the learning and engagement benefits. Literacy Tools: Newsela, Scholastic I love Newsela and Scholastic, which are interactive web resources for literacy. Both are designed for teachers, so they have the academic standards and skills embedded in all that they offer. Parents can rely on these sites to find reading materials at the levels and interests of their children, along with wonderful lesson resources that make reading fun! Apps: Thinglink, Explain Everything, Book Creator Thinglink, Explain Everything and