Top Five Tech Tools in Lower School

By Casey Hogan

This school year, technology tools played a critical role in our classrooms. We focused on a few key tools and apps that supported the learning of all our students. Here is a top-five list of tech tools used in lower school:

1. Zoom
“Ms. Hogan, I have to go to the bathroom!”
“Ms. Hogan, I can’t find my paper!”
“Ms. Hogan, I just found my paper!”
“Ms. Hogan, is this the right paper?”
“Ms. Hogan, I came back from the bathroom.”
“Ms. Hogan, can we start now?”
“Ms. Hogan, can we see your dog?”
“Ms. Hogan, guess what? I love you!”
This is just a sample of a kindergarten class on Zoom. I am so thankful that we were able to safely open our school. Zoom has been an important tool to keep us connected, but I am really happy when it is turned off. 

2. Smartboards, Large Screens, Cameras, Microphones...
       Our tech and facilities department did an incredible job outfitting the classrooms to work with the new safety guidelines. The desks are all six feet apart so the back row is really far away. Mike Coleman carefully measured the rooms and placed the desks. James Gapp and Chaz Konkle researched and purchased cameras, screens, and microphones to make sure that everyone in the class could follow along with the lessons. As you know, things tend to break at the worst times possible. Our team continued to support the classroom teachers throughout the entire year.

3. Document Camera
      Many of you may remember your teachers wheeling in a large cart with the overhead projector. Teachers would convert a document into clear plastic and then write on top with an Expo pen. The projection would be fuzzy and a little hard to read. Now we have a document camera that easily shows anything on the screen. I teach handwriting and the students can see the exact hand motion to form their letters. I can place a book under the camera and everyone will be able to follow along. We add Post-it notes to the books to share our thinking. 

4. Google Apps For Education
        The Google suite of apps is the true Swiss army knife for the classroom. It allows us to collaborate with other teachers and share every aspect of our lessons. I use Google Slides to create my Bitmoji classroom, newsletters, weekly schedules, and anchor charts. It helps when students Zooming from home have access to the same resources as the students in class.

5. Seesaw or Google Classroom
       These digital classroom tools help to reimagine what school work looks like. Students can demonstrate their learning with videos and photos. When we transitioned to remote learning last spring, these tools gave us a platform to share lessons and see the students’ work.
The Harbor Day teachers will continue to learn about new apps and tech tools. Our goal always remains to provide our students with the best possible educational experience.

Honorable Mention List:
Digital Books
       Epic and Literacy Footprints
Quiz Games  
       Kahoot, Gimkit, Quizzizz
Math Apps 
        ixl, AbCya, 24
Creative Tools
        Chatter Kids, Pic Collage, Book Creator
Mentimeter: Interactive Polling and Word Clouds
        Second grade uses this website to create a unique word cloud for the Top Bananas.

About the author: Ms. Hogan has been teaching kindergarten at Harbor Day School since 2004. A native of Newport Beach, she began teaching sailing in the summers. Ms. Hogan earned a bachelor’s degree in history at Dartmouth College and completed the teacher education program. She earned a master’s degree in reading education from the University of Southern California. Ms. Hogan taught second grade before joining Harbor Day School. Kindergarten students are her favorite because of their energy and creativity. As the lower school technology department chair, Ms. Hogan is excited about using technology to foster innovation in the classroom.

Harbor Day School

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Harbor Day School is a co-educational private independent K-8 school established in 1952.