Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Technology as a Tool

Remember when we used technology to make life simpler?  Technology has been around since the Stone Age.  Maybe it has not taken the form we know it as now, but it has always been with us.  Furthermore, it has always served to make something easier for us to accomplish.  Can you imagine someone using a microwave to cook if it actually made the process take longer?  Teaching with technology should be no different.  Teachers want tools that are going to make life easier and enhance instruction at the same time.

Recently my school’s Spanish teacher decided to use Skype to communicate with her former student teacher now living in Spain.  To see the looks on the faces of those students – and teacher - when they saw another person on the big screen that could also see everything they did and talk with them was priceless.  This was a simple concept that afforded that class an opportunity to communicate with someone speaking the language they were studying.

I have a social studies teacher using a modified Flipped Classroom model.  She provides podcasts for students to view at home or in the first few minutes of class while she is taking attendance.  These podcasts provide great avenues for discussion.  Sometimes the podcasts serve as the base of instruction and the teacher is able to walk around the room and assist students that have questions or who just need help understanding. 

The last teacher I’ll blog about is in our language arts department.  She uses webquests to enhance instruction.  She quickly noticed that students loved to “surf” the web.  She understood that she could use this to educate and actually empower students.  By using webquests she was able to allow students the opportunity to learn in a way they wanted.  She is able to guide the students with her questions and has found great discussion as a result.

These technology tools actually made life easier for these teachers and also enhanced instruction by providing real-world experiences.  As a result they continue not only to use these tools, but to actually learn more about them.  This is what teaching with technology should look like.  Furthermore, these are also great examples of what a student-centered classroom should look like.  These teachers are all building learning based on the strengths of the students.