connecting educators & enhancing learning
The single most important thing that I have realized from teaching technology in face to face environments is that it is critical to check for understanding as you introducing new technologies to a group of students. Often, students arrive in class (and proceed through the class) with varying levels of existing skills and understanding of new practices. Technology comes with unfamiliar jargon and also unfamiliar actions, and it is critical that the instructor makes sure that he/she is understood as the new material (both jargon and actions) is presented.
I have found this to be most difficult to achieve in environments where students do not have one-to-one access to the technology to practice it's use. For instance, one of the most difficult environments I have found to work in is ones where there are 2-3 students for each tech tool. In this case, it is very easy for the stronger student in a small group to "take over" the lab work and to complete the project without assitance from the other group members. It is critical that the teacher makes sure that each student has a chance to practice his/her work independently, and that practice lab work is structured so that there is time for each student to do this work.
One other challenge I have faced is that there is not enough of me to go around to help people as they are getting familiar with a new technology. I hope to include more Camtasia style tutorials in my educational practice in the future -- where I can create "just in time" tutorial snippets that show people how to do things -- even when I am across the room. I think this will help my students get past "stuck points" when I am not availalble immediately. This will maximize the use of time in my lab environments, and may also help to provide instruction to the students who aren't comfortable asking for help.
In the classroom, I love to use SMART boards and document cameras. The SMART board allows the student to interact and engage in the lesson both physically and mentally. It also makes better use of time instead of having to walk back to the computer every time to hit "next" on the PowerPoint. In addition, it allows students to show their work on the board for the class. This can be done using the document camera as well. After individual or group activities, I like to display student work on the board both right and wrong answers and think/work through them as a class. For many problems there are more than one solution and because every student thinks differently, each student can find a solution that makes sense to them.
My alternative school started a new quarter this past Monday. As a result, my classes are a little smaller. It is easier for me to see the students faces to check for understanding. My school does not have the money to put science on computers. It is up to me to bring this to them. I am slowly learning who has computers at home. The one thing that most students have is Facebook on their phones. I must learn how to use Facebook for learning without boring my students.
I have used the projector for jeopardy and similar learning activities. I have even projected problems and questions on the white board for students to answer. Unfortunately, this does not involve every student. I must find a way with limited resources to involve each student. I will keep learning more from MSU, the internet and Google!
I've noticed in the face to face instructional strategies that the lecture enhancers are the only thing that would be a bit pricey. Because of the price of such items as smart boards, document cameras, tablets, or elmo machines many teachers may feel left out from this type of technology. On the other hand the technology for discussions, questioning and answering, explaining and demonstrations, because they're more internet based, would seem to be more affordable. Since I know I won't be using any of the lecture enhancers due to budget issues, I would like to try online surveys to check for prior knowledge as in pretesting students. It seems that it would help in finding the data needed on each student quickly, saving me time and energy. Maybe utilizing the computer lab would be a solution to only having three computers in my classroom. Using this type of technology will also help students familiarize themselves with assessments online.
One piece of technology that I have used in class are online videos of simulations and demonstrations. When questions come up it's been neat using this source to quickly find an answer or restate information in different ways. One way I like to use it in demonstrating how locks work when learning about the Soo Locks of Michigan's UP and the Great Lakes.
I currently use a variety of face to face instructional strategies without even knowing it. I think it is important to use technology such as u tube to help explain a variety of topics to enhance student learning. Students sometimes need an explanation by a different person or something explained in a new way to finally have their "aha" moment of learning. I use Discovery Streaming, Weebly, Weebly Blog, an ELMO projector, and other technologies to help face to face instruction.
I would like to use more technology for discussions. I have never implemented a wiki space for a discussion. It is true that in a classroom there are the same students that participate over and over and there are others who barely participate. Even though I try to call on all students, I know that some are not getting the chance to have a discussion. I forget that maybe certain students are not processing the questions quick enough to answer them or that they are too shy to talk. A discussion forum such as a blog or wiki is a great tool to allow ALL students the opportunity to share their ideas.
One of my goals is to use voice thread. I think this tool could be great in book club discussions as others discussed.
Also, I would love to use more surveys and polls in my class. This would help me see the topics students need more assistance with and which areas they are understanding. I like the ideas for using http://surveymonkey.com and Google Forms.
I would encourage everyone to not look at what you don't have access to, but what you do have access to and how to best use it in your classrooms. I most recently taught in the jungle for 6 years. We were super excited this past year when we installed enough solar panels to charge some giant batteries to have electricity on campus 24 hours a day! We had no internet, no cell phone reception, nothing. Not exactly the ideal environment to put great technology resources to use in the classroom. Even in this limited environment, I was able to travel 45 minutes to the nearest town, download some YouTube presentations on dial-up internet, and return to the school to share them with our classes by hooking our laptop to an ultraportable projector and projecting the images on a white bed sheet. These videos helped some of our lectures come to life and widen the worldview of our students.
I agree that it helps to focus on what we have than on what we don't have. Teachers can do extaordinary things when they have the knowledge and the drive to do them even when resources are limited.
Thanks for posting!
Power Point has been a powerful tool to use as a face-to-face instructional tool in my classroom for a number of years. It has come in handy during many lectures and demonstrations in my elementary art classroom (grades K-4). Most of the presentations I’ve put together are filled with samples of works of art, samples of student work and even illustrations of different steps for certain art projects that I’ve had students complete in my classroom. Some of my presentations are more extensive than others, but all of them enable me to present my content in a way that is organized and efficient. This comes in very handy when my day involves teaching seven classes and often times back to back classes are not in the same grade level (i.e. I might teach a second grade class immediately after a kindergarten class). Having portions of my lecture and demonstration contained in a series of slides helps me make this transition between two different grade levels relatively smoothly.
Though I am very curious about some of the other technology related instructional strategies I’ve learned about and though I may have experience using them as a student myself, I feel somewhat limited on what I can and can’t do with them in my instruction given the grade levels that I teach. It is, for instance, very difficult for me to imagine using wiki’s or blogs with students who are just beginning to develop their keyboarding skills not to mention their reading and writing skills. It’s not entirely out of the question for me to attempt some of these more interactive instructional strategies; I would just need to consult with more experts (i.e. my school’s media specialist and possibly even the classroom teachers) before I attempted them.
Having said all this, I do see using video more for demonstrating and/or lecturing in my classroom. Specifically, shooting my own video for use in some of the Power Point presentations I mentioned earlier and perhaps even posting on the Internet. I’m imagining that video of some of the hands on art making processes might be a good idea. I could put them into the presentations for use in my classroom instruction and having them available online would allow students to review what they learned at home. Having it out there for parents to view as well could have additional benefits.
I totally agree with you that the use of technology is somehow limited with lower elementary students. It will be totally hard to implement these technologies especially the ones that require reading, writing and not to mention keyboarding skills. In this age, the main concern would be to work on their writing and reading skills not worrying about typing and the time it would take to accomplish. Maybe a very simple easy activity could be done that will not require these specific skills.
I occasionally use videos to demonstrate something when it is appropriate. For example, in introducing students to use Sketch-Up v8.0 , there are several great video tutorials provided in the help tab that explain the basic processes of creating shapes, adding dimension, and using the pan tools. I will then demonstrate the activity and let the students interact with the program to complete the activity. It provides a good flow and the novelty of the video captures the students attention to learning how to use the tools.