Troubleshooting in Primary Grades

Before introducing my students to computers for the first time for small group rotations I fear that all of the devices will act up all at once causing me to leave my group to help those at the technology station. After reading ISTE Coaching Standard 3e “Troubleshoot basic software, hardware, and connectivity problems common in digital learning environments.” I wanted to know what are ways primary students can troubleshoot technology on their own? By answering this question I am hoping to solve the problem of disrupted groups and frustrated students.

In my own classroom, most troubleshooting problems comes from students who click on an icon multiple times without waiting for the computer to load. This causes extreme frustration for the students and takes away from their learning. By teaching students basic troubleshooting skills, along with basic computer skills can help students work through their technology issues on their own. Leslie from Kinderworks developed 10 skills that can help Kindergarteners become successful when using technology. She listed the following by basic, medium, and advanced skill levels. I believe a great first step to helping students troubleshoot technology is by first teaching them basic skills when handling and operating devices.

In my own experience the most troubleshooting issues from from students minimizing a window and over clicking on an icon/button. With this list I think we can ease the frustrating part of operating technology devices in a primary grade.


  • The names for the parts of a computer
  • How to exit from a window
  • How to move a mouse accurately
  • How to hold the mouse still when clicking
  • How to click, double click and drag
  • How to press a key lightly so only one letter/digit is entered
  • How to log in/log off
  • How to turn on/off the computer and monitor safely
  • How to double click a shortcut icon


  • How to identify that multiple internet windows are open at the same time (or tabs) and exit out of one or all.
  • How to use the backspace enter key and space bar
  • How to manipulate sound level through headphones
  • How to open/use a folder {not multiple… just one level of clicking}
  • How to use a scrolling button or the scroll bar on the screen
  • How to navigate websites using their schema of previous sites


  • How to type basic things (name, login information, a phonetically spelled sentence) using a keyboard
  • How to use the task bar to switch between open windows

Basic Skills are Taught Now What

Learning the basic skills of computer handling and operation doesn’t mean the frustration will suddenly disappear when students interact with technology. In my own Kindergarten class I have seen students get stuck and instantly shut down and believe that they can’t do it. Along with teaching students these basic skills, we need to teach our students (especially Kinders) to have perseverance. For these students to know that its okay not to get it right on the first try and to stick with it even through they might be upset. Every year I teach my students to take three deep breaths, try again, ask a friend, and then ask the teacher.

Other Tips:

Another great idea for troubleshooting in the classroom is to publish a troubleshooting guide/poster. This can be used by students as a reference for when they get stuck on their device. With a guide students can try solving their problem before rushing to the teacher for help.


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