How Does Technology Fit into the Classroom?

Gabrielle Kuhn, INDT 501-01

It seems like a million years ago that I was in 5th grade sitting in computer class being taught how to type without looking at the keyboard.  Since then, I am proud to say that my typing skills have improved, but the world of technology and computer skills is still confusing to me.  When I was in school, we barely had whiteboards, and it wasn’t until high school that teachers used PowerPoint presentations instead of writing notes on the blackboard.  Gone are the days when to research a topic, you had to head to your friendly neighborhood library and scour the shelves for books on killer whales or Neptune.  Now all you have to do is “google” it, a term that has made its way into Websters dictionary.

Even now as I go to practicum, there seem to be SmartBoards popping up everywhere.  It’s clear though that not all the teachers fully understand how to use these boards.  I don’t even know how to use them.  These teachers and myself understand SmartBoards only as far as using it as a projector.  In my own experience, I have used it to put up PowerPoints, but other than that, I have very little experience.  From what I can gather from the Technology Integration Matrix, only using the SmartBoard for a PowerPoint does not engage the students, but they are instead passive observers.  On the matrix, an interactive white board may belong in the Adoption Level of the matrix, because the teacher is choosing how to present the information, whether it be in videos, Google Maps, or other types of presentations. From what I’ve seen in tutorials, SmartBoards can be amazing tools, and I hope I can gain more experience using them in new ways before I start teaching.

Looking at the Technology Integration Matrix, I have found some interesting ideas for high school language arts, which is my subject area.  I liked the idea of a Collaborative-Adaptation activity like the Poetry Exploration lesson.  The students can learn how to use the Internet in the most effective ways, learning how to figure out which information is trustworthy.  Corresponding with authors gives them the opportunity to reach outside the classroom and apply what they are learning in a real world context.  Finally, using multimedia or movies to visualize and explain poems can give students the freedom to be creative and explore the ways in which they can use media to depict and transfer information.  Lessons like Poetry Exploration seem simple, but incorporate many different kinds of tasks so that the students are creating a well-rounded and well-researched project.

I am a little skeptical about the lesson plan called Multimedia Study Guide.  Students would be able to record lessons using laptops and smartphones.  While I can understand using school laptops to take notes then upload them for future use, the idea of using smartphones doesn’t seem too helpful.  In my practicum classrooms, I have seen teachers allow students to use smartphones “only to take notes,” but this inevitably leads to students texting instead.  The smartphone is too distracting, in my opinion.

I have seen some good uses of technology in the classroom, however.  One example is a teacher who had her students write stories, and then use a software to illustrate them in slides and add their own voice to narrate the story.  I believe this is an example of Active-Adoption on the part of the teacher, who, as described in the matrix, “controls the type of technology and how it is used. The teacher may be pacing the students through a project, making sure that they each complete each step in the same sequence with the same tool.”  The projects are regulated by the teacher, but the students still have the opportunity to be creative with their stories and illustrations.

I can’t wait to get started learning about new tools and programs for the classroom.  The world is changing and information is changing, and I think that students are going to be more engaged if they are using the same skills they learn in the classroom at home at their own computer.

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One Response to “How Does Technology Fit into the Classroom?”

  1. Brianna says:

    I completely relate to your first paragraph. When i stepped into the classroom and saw the interactive whiteboard I was taken back to a time where the teachers and students had to do all of the work themselves and were not able to rely so heavily on technological tooks that we have today. I wonder, though, if it is actually more helpful for the student to have to seek out research in libraries, etc, rather than having the information so readily available. I believe that it is.