Balance Teacher-Led Instruction and Screen Time: And They All Lived Happily Ever-After!

Once upon a time, in what now seems like a far-away land, adults like principals, teachers and parents pleaded with children to turn off their computers and gadgets. Then, suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, along came the years 2020 and 2021, with their friend 2022 not far behind! Turning the world sideways, they caused those very same adults to scurry around in a frenzy, working diligently to give all the boys & girls near and far access to technology! Rather than telling the children to turn their devices off, they were, instead, encouraging them and even checking to make sure they had turned them on! Overtime, the start of the 2021-2022 school year began.  Ever so slightly, the scurrying and frenetic pace slowed down. Everyone—the principals, teachers, parents and even the children— dusted themselves off, looked around, and realized that while there was so much good that comes from in-person, face-to-face, teacher-led instruction, there was also a big benefit to educational technology.

If you’re an educator, you know the power and impact of effective teacher-led instruction. Of the seemingly infinite number of ‘pros’, teacher-lead instruction and learning allow for:

  • Building and nurturing relationships
  • Deeply understanding students’ background knowledge, personal nuances, learning styles, unique capabilities, and areas of need  
  • Controlling the pace and manner in which particular concepts are introduced, taught, assessed, and reviewed
  • Using authentically teachable moments

At the same time, educational student apps can also have an incredibly positive impact on student achievement, too. A few of their benefits include:

  • Valuable, educational alternatives to ‘down time’
  • Creative use of videos and infographics, animated graphics, and audio-narration that build tech-literate skills in our children
  • Rich, text-based learning in a digital format

Based on childhood development research, the World Health Organization currently suggests different screen time caps for different age groups. They have advised that children younger than two don’t have any screen time at all, that two- to five-year-olds have no more than one hour of screen time per day, and that five to 18 year olds—in other words, school aged kids— have no more than two hours of total screen time per day. These recommendations are colliding with our current reality, there is no doubt about it. So those of us in education who know the benefits of teacher-led AND digital instruction can be part of creating a healthy AND realistic balance for our students.

Here are a few useful tips:

  • Use a fun timer to set intentional breaks from screen-time in the classroom.
  • Do something physically interactive when the timer rings, like dancing to a favorite song as a class or stepping outside for a quick breath of fresh air!
  • Following a chunk of time engaged in an educational app or other screen-time, break out the good old notebooks, pencils and crayons, paints, scissors, paper, and glue. Encourage your students to write, draw, or create a project about what they’ve learned or experienced using technology.
  • This story hasn’t ended, and we can all agree it’s been no fairy-tale. Everyone is doing their best and striving for that ‘happily ever after’ to come soon! So, our final tip? Give your students AND yourself lots of continued grace!

Want to learn more about how GrapeSEED engages students through teacher-led instruction as well as an interactive student app? Contact us!