I will not remember every tool that we utilized in my education technology class over the past four months. However, the experience has provided me with a new perspective of how technology can positively impact how my students learn. I reflected upon my experiences over the semester of learning how technology can benefit my students. During my reflection one word came to mind – resonate.
As a teacher, I want my lessons to resonate with my students. What is the best way to accomplish that goal? I suppose it depends on who you are asking. Some teachers believe the best way to teach is how they were taught or how they learned. They stand in front of the class and speak at the students while the students frantically scribble notes. The teacher then test the students on their ability to retain the information. I suppose it is an effective way to teach a classroom full of mastery learners. How often does that occur? Yes, there are still teachers out there who subscribe to lecture-based lessons. There are other teachers who believe that he/she must engage the students through various methods (differentiated) so that every learner is engaged. I believe that differentiation is much more effective than relying on one method of lesson delivery.
OK, where does technology fit in? Technology opens a portal to unlimited opportunities for lessons that engage students. We covered a lot of information over the past four months and yet I feel that we have only seen the tip of the educational technology iceberg. I want to discuss a couple that I really enjoyed and feel that they would be of great benefit to my students.
I am very intrigued by the idea of a ‘flipped classroom’. One complaint that I’ve heard a lot is teachers feel they don’t have enough time to cover all the material in class. The flipped classroom has the students review presentation at home. The teacher uses the time in class for engaging activities. I’ve had the opportunity to observe in a couple of flipped classrooms and I was very impressed. In my last post I talked about a veteran teacher who has been using a form of the flipped classroom for eight years. She would never go back to the traditional way of teaching. There are so many websites and technological tools that are available now that make the flipped classroom a realistic goal for most classrooms, even in an urban setting. Google Sites is a great place to start.
Across America, literacy has become a focal point for student improvement. Technology provides many opportunities for teachers to help improve student literacy rates. Some districts are turning to electronic books to replace standard text books. Some districts are buying iPads, iPods, laptops, and other electronic devices to help their students. While the devices are great it is up to the teacher to determine how to use those amazing tools to engage their students through literacy-based activities.
As a future Social Studies teacher, I really like the idea of using VoiceThread in the classroom to improve my students’ digital literacy. The students can make a VoiceThread on primary document, a historical figure or a famous painting. Students can comment on each other’s projects. In the end, the students are using digital literacy in an engaging experience.
I’ve provided a few items that I’ve learned as we progressed through this semester in educational technology. Ultimately, the teacher must find ways to use technology that is both engaging and informative for their students. As teachers, it’s not enough to introduce the tool; we must also show our students how to use the tool if we are going to positively impact their learning experiences.