I have just discovered a blog post by Jordan Slade, who wrote about ICT verses concrete materials in the classroom. I found this to be a great read, because I very much agree with what was written.
I personally think that the more concrete materials that children have to work with, the better they will learn. Yes, you have to cater for varied learning styles, and yes, that means incorporating a bit of everything into your lesson… however I think that the less children are exposed to digital technologies everyday, the more they will engage and learn from them when they are exposed to them.
During my last Prac, there wasn’t really a great deal of technology available for the children – there was a computer room, and an interactive whiteboard up in the front of the classroom. And you know what – these children were more enthusiastic and engaged in their learning, compared to the students of big public schools, who use iPads as if it were a pencil and paper.
The interactive board served as a rewards chart during the day where students could give themselves a point when they were doing good work, or good listening etc, and was also used for watching educational mathematics and literacy videos and/or songs.
I had an activity planned, where the children learned stem words and their extensions, and I used dice to teach the experience – the base word on one dice and the stemming word on the other. The children got to roll the dices and put the word together, and then form it into a sentence. This bought be such joy as a pre-service teacher to see how engaged these children were in learning – not once did they even need technology for this learning experience.
I believe that it is very important for teachers not to forget that going back to the basics, and teaching the children with concrete materials is a highly beneficial tool for child learning. To read more on this topic, follow this link to an article called Using Manipulative’s. While reading, I found that it is a very practical site too, as it explains in depth strategies in teaching using such objects. Definitely recommend it!