Integrating Technology In K12/Opening the Door to Technology in the Classroom
"Effective integration of technology is achieved when students are able to select technology tools to help them obtain information in a timely manner, analyze and synthesize the information, and present it professionally. The technology should become an integral part of how the classroom functions -- as accessible as all other classroom tools."
- National Educational Technology Standards for Students, International Society for Technology in Education
Students in classrooms around the world today are "Technology Natives" meaning that they are growing up with technology as a vital to their everyday life. These students possess the knowledge and ability to utilize the new technologies with minor introductions. Therefore it is vital that the teachers of these students can also use the technologies and be able to bring them into the classroom. These technology uses cannot be ignored in the classroom because they are part of our world and everyday life; to ignore them is to not fully prepare our students for their futures as best we can. Why exactly should teachers be integrating technology into the classroom? First of all technology is the environment our students live and thrive in. Technology exists in their homes and throughout their neighborhoods. Finally, few jobs today involve solidarity. Much work is done collaboratively and it is necessary for students to be familiar with doing project-based learning and work. With the need for technology integration in the classroom we will discuss different ways to use technology in core education classes. The possible fall backs of technology in the classroom will also be addressed in the following.
Though it may seem difficult to incorporate technology into a mathematical classroom, teachers can actually integrate technological tools quite easily! New resources are becoming more and more available and teachers should grab hold of them. Taking steps forward by integrating technology may transform a teacher’s lesson. In an experiment teachers commented, “Instructional technology can enhance the mathematics learning environment by providing visual demonstrations, interdisciplinary connections, and practical applications,” “Teachers don’t have to hunt for information about math topics,” Software and websites can readily give teachers the information they need to understand the topics they teach,” and “Instructional technology helps the teacher bring mathematics to life with real-world connections.”
One of the most important tools a teacher could hope for would be the computer. More and more children are growing up with a computer in the household. Children are becoming computer savvy at such young ages, why shouldn’t the teacher let the children explore great educational resources on computers at school? Though it may not be possible to have a classroom full of computers, it would be awesome to get them into a computer lab as well just to experience the technology. Teachers can buy software for the computers that fit the children’s math needs or find interactive Internet sites that focus on a section such as fractions. A great thing about using software or Internet activities is the children can get direct feedback instantly upon answering the question. A disadvantage to using computers in the math classroom is that most of the software and Internet sites will be individually based. If there aren’t enough computers to support the classroom, and they were required work in groups, it may hinder their individual growth.
If your classroom is equipped with a Smart board you have been given a new door to open. Allisyn Levy wrote an article for Teachers Network that suggests, “A Smart board is compatible with all of the Microsoft Office programs, so it’s easy to create something in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, and access it through the Smart board software so students can interact with it. The Smart board is just like a whiteboard, only I can save every file, which is kind of like having digital charts.” Some great ideas for math teachers to maximize their use out of a Smart board may be to watch education videos or play quizzes, create charts, look at maps or photographs, go over math problems to prepare for tests, and use the tools such as protractor and graph paper. Take advantage of the possibilities at your fingertips. This new resource is bubbling up in classrooms all over. Teachers can really engage their students’ interest with fresh new technology! Smart boards are no doubt opening up a lot of different doors that classrooms have never seen before.
If students have access to E-books, teachers can find beneficial downloadable textbooks, quizzes, or helpful study guides for activities. Giving children more resources in which they can learn will only help their overall achievement. Also, with E-books they are getting hands on interaction. With fun online activities their curiosity may wonder and find themselves practicing math more frequently. Even though it may not be possible to have these gadgets in every single classroom now, they soon may be. Teachers should embrace and challenge themselves to display technology in the classroom in many ways. It is encouraging students to use technology in a positive way and also preparing them for the developments of technology outside the classroom.
Science classrooms are about discovering, analyzing, and figuring out why. It’s almost not enough to just have a textbook in front of you. Some concepts are a little more challenging to understand from just reading the text, but some experiments are a little too unpractical to do in the classroom. What is a science teacher to do?
Well, our technology has come a long way. Jeff Adkins wrote an article specifically about computers in the Science Classroom. From his own experience he extracted a few ideas on how to resourcefully use computers in the classroom. Now to answer the question above and to discuss Adkins first idea: simulations. While some experiments are just not practical to do in the classroom it is safe to view on-line simulations. Adkins states, “Computers can simulate experiments and events too dangerous, or too expensive, to simulate in real life.” Computers also allow us to collect and display data in an organized matter. We can take that data and present it in charts or log it to see the progress of a long-term experiment. It may be inconvenient to the class if there isn’t a sufficient amount of computers to work on, but experiments are functional in larger groups. Not only are computers being used to efficiently, but the children are also learning how to create things effectively. They are using tools that will help them in their future endeavors. “Computers have become an essential classroom tool for the acquisition, analysis, presentation, and communication of data in ways which allow students to become more active participants in research and learning. It offers students a very important resource for learning the concepts and processes of science through simulations, graphics, sound, data manipulation, and model building,” as stated on the National Science Teachers Association website. This once accessory to a classroom is now become a necessity. Using computer programs and software should engage students in meaningful conversation to enhance their learning. By exposing children to these facts and conversations the ultimate goal would be better understanding of concepts. Also showing them how to network and how to work collaboratively will demonstrate other techniques in which scientist use.
Our knowledge is spreading all over the Internet and people are sharing their great resources and adapting them the Smart boards. Using interactive power points is such a treat for the children. Some of these tools are just like games they are so engaging. Not only can Smart boards be fun for the students, but for the teachers too! “Teachers and students can easily control all aspects of the demonstrations including turning on and off audio explanations and starting and stopping videos. Another great thing about these activities is that you can zoom them to fit your entire screen which is extremely useful for using them with your Smart Board,” shared on the Teachers Love Smart Boards website. “Some of the scientific animations are outstanding,” the site continues with tons of resources. If your Science Classroom is equipped with a Smart board your lessons are open to so many possibilities to engage your students which are much more enjoyable than just relying on the textbook.
In addition to computers and Smart boards, soon in our future E-books might be much more abundant in the classroom. Some concerns with the E-books would not being writing notes in the margins and highlighting texts. These concerns would be mostly of college students who purchased their own books. But are these downfalls of not having a paper text outweigh the benefits? The E-books have a built in dictionary to help with terms. This built in feature is one of the most helpful and useful tools especially in Science texts. A physical benefit is having only one lightweight book instead of lugging around five heavy books releases the strain on young and old students’ backs. This would be an adjustment for many students, but they may enjoy the side effects of this new technology.
So many times we hear that history does not change as math or science does, but that doesn't mean we should continue to teach it in the same old ways. It's true, history doesn't change it only grows as time flies by us. Each moment that time passes us something new is developed, if we didn't utilize that something new would we be making history or just standing still? In our classrooms today there are vast uses for all types of technology, it's simply a matter of harvesting and mastering those uses. Focusing on how computers, Smart Boards, and E-readers can be used in Social Studies classrooms there are obviously upsides and downsides to these technologies.
Computers have been used in classrooms for years now, I remember in the second grade going to the computer lab to type or create a project. Today the uses of a computer have vastly broadened, from research, to projects, and networking across the table or the world, to name a few. Scholastic is a great example of a company that provides many different types of computer programs to be used in the Social Studies classroom. Such programs include: Tour the Mayflower, Follow the Pilgrims, Tour Ellis Island, Play Puzzled States, and Be the President. These programs are a type interactive instruction for students to enjoy while learning. This is only a sampling of the programs offered by this company for students to use as introductions or reinforcement for such topics.
Smart boards are a great tool for any classroom, including social studies rooms. Tons of lesson plans are available on websites such as exchange.smarttech.com. These lesson plans can be used straight from the website or can be modified to better fit specific lessons. Teachers also have the ability to create their own activities for the Smart boards. Some examples offered on exchange.smarttech.com include: Investigating Ancient Egypt, Famous Explorers, Which Direction, United States Geography, and Latitude and Longitude. All of these and many more are topics covered in elementary social studies classrooms but with the Smart board we have another way to get our students up out of their seats and interested. Granted this should not be the only interaction for students in the classroom, however the more options the better. There are also uses of the Smart board in student projects and assessments. I remember a story a teacher once told me about a student she had. The student was autistic and struggled greatly with his United States test. With pencil and a paper map the student struggled to complete the test, let alone have correctly labeled the states. The teacher then looked for a different form of assessment for this student and she turned to the Smart board. With a colorful map and the ability for the student to use the touch of his finger to match the names with the location and shape of the state the student excelled. Smart boards open another door for teachers in all subjects including social studies.
Another piece of technology that is taking book bags by storm is the E-Reader. This new tool has obvious benefits with obvious downfalls. The first benefit that automatically pops into my head is the weight of textbooks verse the weight of an E-Reader. Social studies and History textbooks are often known to be large and heavy with details. With an E-Reader students have the ability to carry one electronic pad instead of an upwards of five or so textbooks. The chiropractic benefits alone are immense. Other benefits include the built-in dictionaries as mentioned above, or the audio and visual possibilities. The possible downfalls include battery life, bookmarking, marginal noting, and difficulties uploading of books. As long as the producers allot for programming that allows for a student to bookmark pages, to jot down notes about sections, or to save the location of the reader upon a power shortage. When considering the use of E-Readers in the classroom another aspect that needs to be considered is cost, is one E-Reader per student cheaper than five textbooks for each student? Both can be used for multiple years, depending on how durable the E-Reader is in comparison to the textbook.
There are many ways that you can use technology in the Language Art's classroom. One way is to use computers in the class. Computers are an awesome way to allow students to explore authors, books, and book reviews. Computers allow the student to communicate with other students around the world. They can communicate with other students in other countries. Students can have pen pals in another country and write back and forth. This will greatly improve their writing skills. Students can use different programs on the computer that will improve other motor skills, like typing. They can research books and authors. This can help students who enjoy certain authors find more books written by that specific author. They can find other books that might be of interest to the students. They can find information for research projects that they might have to do for class. They will be able to look up old newspaper articles online without going to the library. This can save the teacher the travel time that would be wasted with a trip to the public library. There are many lesson plans that incorporate the use of computers in the classroom. The website that provides many ideas of lesson plans that can be used in the classroom is Introduction to Computers and the Internet: Language Arts Skills - Unit Plan. There are many activities that can be done in the classroom. This form of technology is ever changing and can be a great tool to use in the classroom. There are some problems that might arise with the use of computers. A problem might be that the students could deviate from the pages they should be on. They may try and play games will the teacher’s back is turned. It is important to keep a close watch on the students and the need to block certain sites might be necessary.
Another tool for technology that can be used in the classroom would be the use of E-books. Many schools are changing to E-Books instead of the usual textbook. There many advantages again with the use of E-books. They can be much lighter for our students to carry, instead of the heavy textbooks. This is a huge advantage for our students, physically. They will not suffer as we did from back pain at such a young age. Within the Language Art classroom, the E-books can be used daily. One of the biggest advantages would be the ability for all the students to download the books instantly, versus waiting for the school or teacher to purchase them. It can be very beneficial if there is a new student is added to the classroom, which might have just moved to the area. Instead of the teacher trying to find another copy of a book they are able to download the book and catch up with the students almost instantly. There are so many books that they can find through the E-book system. If the students are using I-Pads then they have an extreme amount of technology at their fingertips. “It is very simple and easy to purchase and download E-books through the Internet. It is exactly like purchasing any other product. The only difference is that after payments you will either be directed to a download page or receive the download link in an email. All you have to do is click on the link and the E-book will automatically download to your computer, to a folder of your own choice.” Another advantage is once you have downloaded the book you do not have to be connected to the internet in order to read that book. An economic advantage for using the E-books is the fact that there are no trees harmed in the making of the E-books. This will help our ever-falling forests. E-books are interactive they can have audio, visual, and animation that can enhance the students experience while reading the books. This is a great way to keep the students actively reading books. A disadvantage might be that it can be hard to snuggle up to E-Book. They are not a soft book that can easily be manipulated for comfortable reading. And as always technology that runs on battery, can always die when you need it the most. Therefore, if a student is in the middle of reading a story and the product runs out of battery they may lose where they are or have to wait until they can charge the battery. Overall there are many benefits to having the E-books in the classroom that out way the disadvantage. This could be the cause as to why most schools are now switching to integrating them into the classroom.
The Smart board is a fantastic technological tool that can be used in the Language Art’s classroom. This can be a superb tool if used to its fullest. Students can practice proof reading as a class, by taking turns and going up to fix mistakes that they find. This will help them to become better writers. The Smart board can be used to show the students what kinds of symbols are used to correct certain mistakes within the paper. It is a great interactive tool that students can obtain hands on learning. The Smart boards are large and allow the students to see better without having to use an overhead projector for students to squint into. The Smart board allows students to go to the board and show off their knowledge without having to be blinded by the projector of the overhead, which is still used in the classrooms. The images are crisper on the Smart board and can use more vibrant colors. It is also great for all kinds of learners, “The board can accommodate different learning styles. Tactile learners can benefit from touching and marking at the board, audio learners can have the class discussion, visual learners can see what is taking place as it develops at the board.” The Smart board allows student’s that might have motor disabilities to come to the board who might otherwise be leery. The disadvantage with the use of Smart boards in the classroom is that not every student can go to the board at the same time. It can be hard for some students at first to grasp the concept of how to use it. It can also take the teachers a bit to understand the full benefits of using the Smart board in the classroom. Once, the teacher and students understand how to use it and the benefits it will be an extremely useful tool in the classroom.
Integrating technology into the learning environment is the one of the most important aspects to grasp for future educators. Technology can contribute to successful learning in the areas of math, science, social studies and language arts. As a teacher it will be increasingly more important to be aware of the student’s level of technical competence. It is likely that technology will change at a pace that will be difficult for teachers to adapt it to the classroom effectively. In order to keep pace teachers will have to spend time more time reviewing how to accomplish the goals of the traditional lesson plan with the tools of the future.
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