Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Does Technology Work?

Politicians often decide that funding in education needs to be cut.  We are all dealing with low budgets, no money for staff development and, the most common area to cut, no money for technology.  In my school, that means that as my SmartBoard projector starts to wear out (and it is) it will not be repaired or replaced.  As the laptops reach their 10 year mark, and stop being effective, they will not be replaced.  So the technology will slowly, but surely, leave my classroom.  

So I started wondering if it really mattered.  Maybe we can do without.  After all, the technology projects we do are mostly started by me.  We have some great lessons that have nothing to do with technology.  What does it really matter?  And then I get my proof that technology is important to my students and their learning.  Here are just a few examples of how.

1. I am giving a standard test on the digestive system on Thursday.  It is the first test I am giving to my class where they actually have to study ideas and memorize body parts and definitions.  In other words, they have to study.  Nervous and unsure, they asked for help.  I asked what they wanted.  They said they wanted me to create a Google doc with questions for them to answer.  I said no but they could.  So one child created the doc, went around and invited everyone in and made plans for a time to get together tonight.  I went in about an hour ago.  The doc was full of questions and answers, over 10 children were in studying, and the chat room was buzzing with talk of the digestive system.  Wow!

2. I got an email today from a student I had two years ago.  She has joined the Science Olympiads and needs to build a project.  She asked me for some help with finding sites that will give her ideas.  She said she had already watched some videos to help her understand her topic better and now needed to work on a project.  Amazing!

3.  I worked on mean (averages) in class this week.  Last night I got an email from a student saying she really didn't understand it and could I help her.  I typed up a quick definition, found a video link and a game for her to play and sent it off.  Today she told me those links really helped.  

4. My students have decided that they need to get on Edmodo at night and do homework together.  They wanted to know if this was cheating.  LOL Little do they know that I love the idea and love that they came up with it.  "If it will help you," I said, "go right ahead."  I love checking in on their conversations and adding some ideas of my own.

These examples are just from last week and this week.  And these are 4th graders - 9 year olds.  Imagine how important technology will be to them in 5 years.  They are already thinking about how technology can support their learning.  Their world will never be the same.

What examples do you have to show how technology really supports your students?

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Image: 'Shanghai January 2010

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Vicky Sahlin said...

What fabulous uses of technology you have happening with your grade 4s. My class loves practicing their learning on a variety of websites. They also love writing blog posts and comments. They are excited about writing and we are learning about other students around the world at the same time.

Janet said...

I can hardly imagine teaching without technology. My 5th graders are in their first year of a 1:1 laptop initiative. As part of the initiative, we set policy that 5th graders would not take home their computers until Christmas (after demonstrating responsibility and competency).

I can do SO much more now that students can take their computers home. I can have them publish pieces to the class website. I can have them write about their learning and make it into a news video for parents. The great thing is that, with the authentic audiences technology provides, students are asking for more writing opportunities.

Like your class, my students are beginning to evaluate the most appropriate forum for collaboration and publication given any particular task.

I just posted a model that I use for student ePortfolios.

Anyway, thanks for the post!

Janet | expateducator.com

sbisaccio said...

We are debating the same issues in our little town in Vermont. Our equipment is aging and the plans for replacement is up for debate. I was impressed by your students' use of their resources. You may have been the one thinking up the projects in class but the reality is, you were opening the door and they stepped through. Thank you for sharing. I've shared this with my tech director.