Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tool #9: Incorporating Classroom-Based Devices as Tools for Learning

It is important to tie technology to the objective because students need to find personal value in their school experiences. It seems that teachers and students view school and its purpose through different lenses and, generally, it seems that these lenses are out of sync with each other. One way of making school experiences valuable to students is to do as much as possible to make school mirror the real world, and technology is a large part of the day to day function of real world. I recently visited a public library in a predominantly low SES part of town and was shocked by the line of people waiting to access the libraries 10 computers. It was about noon, and the people using and waiting for computers appeared to be adults that were down on their luck. This was eye opening in regards to the role of technology in our lives! I think doing all we can as educators to incorporate positive student values such as being tech savvy into school experiences could result increased motivation to engage in the learning process.

Students should be held accountable for their work in stations because they need to know that what they think and learn matters! Sure some students are intrinsically motivated to learn everything in all classes, but many are not. I think some of the disinterest in school is perpetuated by their belief that what they are learning is not important or of value to them or anyone else besides the teacher, i.e. the only person who will judge their work and maybe give feedback is the teacher. Students need to understand that when they invest time in learning activities something about them or their brain should change, and when that does happen it is important to share that in some manner with as many people as possible. Additionally, for those students who are not motivated to learn and will gladly do the minimum necessary, peer accountability is significantly more motivating that teacher accountability. I have found that many students' confidence and self esteem improves when they have to post evidence of learning on a blog and other students make positive comments about their abilities, ideas/thoughts, and grammar/spelling. Students need to know that their thoughts and abilities matter.

I like Thinkfinity and Gooru (Google Apps). Both of these can be used in centers. Students can complete each site's activities as assigned by the teacher and then post responses to 1-2 open ended questions that require using specific details/evidence from Thinkfinity or Gooru to support their responses on a class blog.

Two apps from the list that I found interesting and seemingly useful for high school were Discover Art History-Art Collector and DK- The Human Body app. I am not sure what subject areas I will be working with next year, but both of these could be used to create centers. The art history app could be used in World History and the human body app could be used in Biology. Again, the students could post responses on a blog. They could also work in pairs and present new learning to the class. The art history app keeps a score which could be another form of accountability.

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