Technology As A Multisensory Tool

“But why does my classroom need the technology? I’m doing fine with out it.”

It was an uphill battle from day one. My science department was trying to convince, unsuccessfully, the most senior member of the department to adopt and use a new smart board.

We all have a story similar to this one because change is difficult.

And this teacher wasn’t budging.

He had putrid test results and was placing the blame on external conditions (the students). Further, his students were out of control and beginning to affect classes in the neighboring rooms. We thought that sparking some reflection on his ancient note-taking only method would eventually lead him to the conclusion that he needed something special to supplement his way of teaching science.

“A smart board would keep your students interested during your lectures. They would be more active and engaged,” I commented.

I’ve done it this way for years, and in the end, it always works out. I just don’t see the NEED for a smart board. How would it improve my lessons?” he responded as he retreated into his back room.

I pondered his last questions as I slid in defeat back into my classroom. How does technology improve a lesson?

Technology provides an intangible spark to your content. Technology is “jazz hands” in a classroom and when used correctly, is painfully effective and makes content ultra-sticky.

However, telling my resistant colleague that technology is analogous to “jazz hands” isn’t going to win him over.

I was determined to develop a compelling, one word, and strait-forward answer to the question: how does technology improve a lesson?

It hit me as I was watching Blues Clues; not for fun, for another writing project :)

Blues Clues is a multisensory program.

Technology enhances a lesson because it encourages multisensory learning.

Students hear, see, and move things. They can read, record, interact, and create with technology.

David J. Staley distinctly states:

“In a multisensory learning environment, images, sound, touch and movement, and even smell will be as important as written or spoken language as a way to represent information and knowledge.”

Though individuals may have a preferred learning styles and intelligences, it is now believed that lessons that ignite more of the brain are more beneficial. Whereas hearing a word only excites your auditory neurons, reading a word out load fires the visual, linguistic, and auditory areas of the brain (not to mention the countless executive networks necessary to coordinate all of those brain processes at the same time)

Need some evidence? Look at how engaged this kindergarten class is during this smart board literacy lesson. They are hearing, seeing, laughing, moving, singing, and doing.

A lesson is transformed from a passive event to an active experience as you encourage the use of multiple senses. Technology facilitates that transformation.

As teachers, our goal is to present information to our students in as many different ways as possible to give their entire brain a work out. Multisensory lessons make a brain sweat.

Are you resistant to change? Do you shutter when you hear “edtech”? If so, realize that technology improves your lessons because it encourages a multisensory approach to learning.

For a great place to start, consider this article.

Did we win the old science teacher over? No, he retired. But the new teacher is on board :)

More from Chris here.

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