Topic 2: Technology Integration

Where does technology fit into classroom instruction? What positive or negative impact does it have on a student’s school experience?

Technology belongs in the classroom. It is a valuable tool with endless possibilities. However, you can’t just give students devices and expect learning to automatically happen. Students need to be taught how to use the computer, and the teacher needs to be using the technology in an effective way. If not, it’s just a distraction.

I’ve had two or three trainings on technology in the classroom, and specifically, the SAMR model. Basically, the SAMR model helps teachers think about how they are integrating technology into their lessons. The S at the bottom of the model stands for substitution — you use the technology, but it doesn’t change the assignment. I can have kids write a story with paper and pencil, or I can have them type a story. They are still writing a story, the technology didn’t change or transform the assignment. That’s the basic level, and the teacher isn’t really using the technology to its fullest possibility.

The R is at the top of the model — redefinition. You are taking the assignment but using the technology to really transform and enhance the task into something you couldn’t possibly do without technology. So instead of just writing or typing a story, I could have kids create their own interactive book, record themselves reading it, then post it on Youtube for other classmates to listen to and comment on. The SAMR model just helps you think about what you are doing with the technology — is it still the same task, or are you transforming the task into something previously inconceivable?

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With that in mind, I was 1:1 in my 4th grade classroom with Google Chromebooks this last year. There are so, so many resources for teachers to use in their classroom. Kids can learn how to do things on their computer very quickly. It’s really impressive to see how fast they can catch on to things. Here is a list of ten reasons students need technology in the classroom, and I agree with all of them.

At the beginning of the year, I was super excited to try everything: Google forms, Wizer.me, goFormative, Nearpod, Google classroom, readtheory, khan academy, quizlet, kahoot, and on and on. The kids catch on to whatever site you are using rather quickly, which is good, but I felt like I was using too many things, and settled down with just a few things I really liked and that were really efficient for my classroom. You have to find the balance between teacher time and technology time because the students need both. Now, I can’t imagine only have one or the other.

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For example, in math class, I would teach the lesson on the markerboard while students listened and did examples on their own mini markerboards (no technology). Then, they would grab their Chromebooks and do about 15 math problems that I had put on goFormative. goFormative is awesome because I can watch the kids answer the questions. If one kid has got all the questions wrong but he tells me hes done, I can tell him exactly which problems he needs to go back and fix — he doesn’t get a free ten minutes while I grade his paper first. Then they have paper and pencil homework for home. Could they have done the 15 math problems on paper? Yes, but they wouldn’t get graded that quickly, and the kids were happier to do them on the computer. Furthermore, the tests, including the NESA, were on the computer, so it was also good practice for how to do math on the computer (surprise — you still have to solve on some scratch paper first!)

I tested out other unique things throughout the year. When there was a substitute, I would record myself teaching the math lesson on educreations. I would put the link on their math google classroom. So in math with the sub, the students would watch the educreations video, then do their assignment on goFormative. The sub only had to monitor. We recorded ourselves reading. We did slideshows. We wrote stories in groups using Google Docs. My all time favorite tool is Nearpod. I could write a whole essay about it!

In the spring, we also tried out Hour of Code. I was feeling confident in my student’s computer skills. There is just so much technology around kids, and I felt it was important for them to understand a little bit about how it works. I don’t know anything about code. This is the day I learned that no matter how good or personalized the technology is, the teacher still has a role in the classroom. Kids will still need help and guidance. I don’t think a fancy computer can ever replace a teacher!

I can’t imagine not having technology in the classroom. The bad things like iffy internet connection and management issues are worth it for all the things you can do. When I was 1:1, I saved so much time on grading and I saved so much paper. The students were more keen to do their work this year as compared to past years without computers. I am moving, and I won’t be 1:1 anymore, so it’s kind of like going back to the old days!

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