Question of the week:
Reflect on the idea of what a technology-infused classroom looks like. How do you plan to have a technology-infused classroom?
My idea of a technology-infused classroom looks vastly different than the classroom I began teaching in over eighteen years ago. My first classroom was filled with thirty-six desks, six rows of six chairs and a teacher’s desk and file cabinet. I had two blackboards and a bulletin board. When I wanted to do a lab or group activity, I signed up for the lab, usually at least a week in advance.
My last brick and mortar classroom had two computers, a smart board, an overhead projector, and a sound system in the room. My room was not set up in rows but in quads so when we worked on the school laptops, at least once a week, sometimes more, the kids could work in pairs or groups to accomplish the task I had assigned. My lab also had a smart board and two computers in it so I could show items on the lab I was expecting the students to see or observe while they were conducting experiments. Many times, they placed their data on the board as they worked so other groups could use the data in their graphing or calculations.
Teaching science, I feel, blends itself well with technology. It’s a way to keep up-to-date on the latest research going on in the field. One of my biggest gripes for years was how out-of-date the textbooks were in science. By the time the book went to print, new information was out and I’d be left deciding to teach from print-outs or just using the outdated text. Now, in a technology-infused classroom, I can use web pages, video clips, and other technology to bring into my classroom the most up-to-date information to my students. They can also research something they find interesting in the class, not always after school or at home.
Since I am now a virtual high school teacher, my classroom is in the virtual world. It’s pretty technology-infused! My students access their reading assignments online and answer quizzes and tests online as well. They still do some labs as ‘wet labs’, which means they do them live with materials my school sends them but we also take advantage of video and virtual labs as well. I do send them video clips to watch from sites such as, Nova, NASA, even youtube or teachertube to extend the learning. If they have a question, I am a mouse clip away on my yahoo im. Just the other day, I was conversing at the same time with two different students about chemical reactions. Multi-tasking is a must in a virtual school!
Even though my classroom is technology-infused, that still means I follow lesson plans daily and at least try to meet all the objectives I’ve set for the week. Technology shouldn’t be the central focus, learning should be. I have a teenage daughter that has begun experimenting with make-up. I tell her all the time, that make-up should enhance natural beauty, not cover it. I feel the same with technology, it shouldn’t take the place of learning objectives, technology should enhance the learning that is happening in the classroom.
Many times, a new technology must be taught to the students, that does take time but there should be a clear objective as to why the time is being taken. When I started using a smart board, there were few applications available that were written for high school students. My smart board was used primarily for projecting my powerpoints and slides for lab from my computer and for showing video clips. As the applications became available, I had to actually train my students how to use the smart board to accomplish the goals I wanted them to meet. It did take some time, but the time was well spent when they could extend their learning on topics in science. As long as there is a clear objective, the time spent teaching the technology is not wasted time.