I am getting ready to lead a twitter chat on the use of technology in the classroom. That statement could not have been made last year, and the types of things I am likely to tweet about probably didn’t exist last year, and definitely not when I started teaching (and those of who know me, know I am not that old). Twitter, Facebook, blogs, smart boards, and doc cam played little to no role in our schools years ago. When we think about how the classroom has changed over time it is dramatic. However, as dramatic of a change as many of us feel is happening with technology in the classroom, it is still lagging beyond the use of the technology in the “real world”. Most corporations, businesses, and organizations either are websites or at least have one. I was at the cutest little clothing story in Atlanta last week. I asked if they had a website and was devastated and shocked to find out they didn’t. It is expected businesses have websites and tweet and are on facebook at the very least. Social media was changed the way people communicate. Websites have changed the way the world does business. The internet has changed how people get information and learn. When we think about the impact technology has had on the world in the past 10 year, it is massive. When we think about the impact technology has had on the classroom it is minimal.
If technology is changing the world, it should also change the classroom. But completely turning everything we know on its head could be a challenge. I try to think about problems that we have in our classroom and how can we use technology to solve them.
Problem #1 ITS TOO LOUD
There are actually apps that monitor sound as well as websites for the smart board. You can even plug your smartphone into the smart board (smart squared), so the students can see the sound meter. This can be used to make sure students don’t get too loud and can create independence as they monitor the sound in the classroom themselves, during reading and/or writing workshop. Remember some sound is good, as we want students reading, talking, and the sound of working.
Problem # 2 THEY AREN’T TALKING DURING PARTNER TIME
Technology can solve this problem as well. Record kids using iPhone or iPad or flip cam. You can then watch the videos on the smart board and have students evaluate what they were doing well and what they need to improve on. You can also video exemplar students partnerships to show.
Problem #3 THEY DON’T WANT TO WRITE
There are apps like toontastic and puppet pals where students can create stories using puppets and cartoons on the iPad or iPhone. Who doesn’t want to write or story tell using those.
Problem #4 THEY DON’T ELABORATE WHEN WRITING HOW-TO’S
Video tape students doing things like tying their shoes, or making peanut butter and jelly. Play back the videos over and over again as they write their how-to’s. Press pause after each tiny step so they can write about it.
Problem #5 THEY LOSE ALL THE NOTES I SEND HOME WITH THEM
Create an email list with all the parent emails. Shoot out emails about school trips, wear green day, and reminders to bring a painting shirt on Tuesday. Save paper and get tech savy.
Problem #6 CONFERRING NOTES
There is an app for that as well, my favorite one at that. Confer is the name of an app that can keep track of all your conference notes. You can also email them to yourselves and print them out, if you are one that still needs a hard copy (or have to hand them into someone).
As problems arise if we think about how technology can help us, we can incorporate it more into the classrooms. The more the better. It will be a while until schools can catch up to rest of the world, but we can do it one app at a time.