Tuesday, April 16, 2019

K-2 Can Chromebook TOO!

Chromebooks + Benchmark Advance Phonics and Fluency Practice + Screenshots + Seesaw... ALL in FIRST GRADE!?!?!

Questions I’ve heard so many times:

How can K-2 students even log in to a Chromebook?
Can young children easily navigate between various resources in a Chrome browser?
Why would I teach a first grader how to take a screenshot?!?!?

Watch this young scholar, a first grader, in action!

What can our littlest learners create on Chromebooks?

It has long been thought that iPads are the device that young learners can have the most success with in the  classroom. However, young students can do amazing things on Chromebooks, too!

In my small district, we’ve been using Chromebooks in K-2 for a while. We started almost six years ago, and while it certainly has taken some time and growing pains throughout our journey, the successes we’ve had have been well worth the effort!

We teach students how to log in to the Chromebooks with a unique username and password during the first weeks of Kindergarten. Is it easy? NOPE! It takes time, patience, and repetition. Once our students can get into the Chromebooks, they have access to many resources for learning, creating, and sharing. Our students use content and tools from our adopted curricula as well as tools from Google Suite, Seesaw, Epic Books, Scootpad, Brainpop, and many others.

Putting it together:

This week, I visited a first grade class during their center/workstation time. The learning goal was to practice vowel teams in words with the Long O sound. The purpose of technology in the activity was to offer additional practice and learning resources, as well as to record the students’ practice of both the phonics skill (blending sounds) as well as record their reading practice to evaluate fluency.

Google Classroom:

The students began by reviewing multiple resources about their phonics skill of the week, Long O vowel teams. Here, Google Classroom is used to package and share resources such as interactive games at Starfall.com and related videos on YouTube.

Benchmark Advance ePocket Chart:

Next, students complete a phonics/word-building activity using the ePocketChart from our Benchmark Advance ELA program. This simple interface has students building words and sentences using a variety of letter, word, and picture cards. These can either be pre-selected by the teacher, or students can self-select the cards they would like to use. Today’s activity had students building words using the Long O sound using the vowel teams OA and O_E.

If you don’t have access to the Benchmark ePocket Chart tool, this part of the activity could be recreated a number of ways using a tool from a different curriculum, or it could also be built in Google Slides or Google Drawings. See a sample of how that might look in Google Drawings here, or check out this awesome template for Google Slides by Kris Szajner (@KSzajner)

Once the students completed their word building activity in whichever tool you use, they can use the online tool Seesaw to share and record themselves saying the sounds and words they built.


The thinking and beliefs behind the hashtag #K2CanToo center around the importance of empowering our littlest learners. It’s about eliminating the biases about what even very young students CAN do! If there were any doubts about whether young students can do these tasks, Xophia’s video above should certainly be evidence to the contrary.

That awesome girl builds words, records her learning, and shares it. The entire task was completed quickly and efficiently. It wasn’t an ordeal or special occasion. You can tell in the video that that this is something she is very confident in accomplishing.

In addition to the Benchmark phonics task, in the video the student also shares how a piece of text, such as an online decodable text from your ELA curriculum or a piece of text from a resource such as Epic Books can be captured and shared, too.

What’s the big deal about screenshots?

You’ll notice that the student takes a screenshot as part of the phonics activity. Teaching young learners to take a screenshot allows them to capture and share evidence of learning from a wide variety of online resources! Pairing a screenshot with the recording and sharing tools of Seesaw provides opportunities for voice and audience. The potential becomes limitless!  If your young learners haven't yet mastered this task, here is a great visual created by Wanda Terral to help you get started.

Find this and other Chromebook tips in Wanda’s collection at bit.ly/cbooktips

How does technology enhance this task?

The students certainly could have completed parts of this task without technology. They could have worked on a similar word-building activity using letter tiles or flashcards. They could have read the paper copy of decodable text that goes with the phonics lesson. Completing the tasks on the Chromebook added many additional layers that benefitted the student and the teacher!

Technology had many roles in this activity:     

  • Management: Using the online tools, the teacher can assign the letter/phonics items digitally. This eliminates the burden of having to find and organize flashcards, and also the need to clean up the flashcards after each group of students use them. If students have device and network access from home, the online versions of these tasks could also be completed at home, without having to send additional materials that could get lost.
  • Supporting the needs of Diverse Learners: By providing a variety of digital resources, we’re able to give many students opportunities to access the learning over and over again. They can replay the videos and lessons and practice the games many times. The visuals and images included with the digital resources add an additional layer of support.
  • Accountability: If a student center/workshop activity is to use flashcards or letter tiles to build words and reinforce a particular phonics rule, there is often no final product that they can be held accountable for.  Having kids turn in their digital content holds them accountable for the activity, while also giving the teacher the opportunity to do some formative assessment.
  • Audio Recordings: The ability to hear the students’ practice with blending or segmenting words and sounds gives a window into their learning that we wouldn’t be able to capture if the students were not using the digital tools.
  • Sharing: It’s a widely known truth that students will often put extra effort into an activity when they will be sharing it to an audience. Publishing student learning to Seesaw allows their peers and parents to see the activity, too. What a great opportunity to make home-school connections!

Purposeful Integration

As the Instructional Technology Coach, one of my most important jobs is to help the teachers find ways to MEANINGFULLY integrate technology into their daily routines. Before we start any new project, I ask:

Is the activity educationally sound?
Does it enhance student learning?
Does it make the teacher’s job easier?
Is there a meaningful product?

Adding technology to our phonics lesson clearly evolved that traditional task.

Our littlest learners can accomplish amazing things when we give them access to modern tools and meaningful opportunities to SHOW us what they know!

Learn more about what young learners can do at my website, PrimarilyGoogle.Rocks.

Lesson Resources:

Google Classroom Links:

Additional Student Samples - AR Words

1 comment:

  1. I love this!!! I am a new Instructional Technology Coach and still learning how to help the teachers at my school. I was very impressed with how the little girl took a screen shot and easy added it to Seesaw. I hope that the students at my school can do that one day soon.