I used to have high hopes for technology in the classroom but…

When starting student teaching in the fall, I had high hopes for using technology as a resource in my classroom. At first, we used computers several times in the classroom for research, interactive labs, and other types of activities. I originally thought using computers would be an easy way for students to work at home if they needed to, but it turns out there were too many students who didn’t have access to computers outside of school. I also started to notice how computers were affecting my students’ abilities to engage and learn from the activities. With technology, my students seem to get off task easily, and they do not gain much content knowledge from the activities. They are all really good students who can focus on an activity in the classroom, but as soon as I give them a computer they basically just stop learning. Since this time, I’ve been focusing on only using technology for my slideshow presentations, and I’ve just been letting my students perform hands-on activities to learn. I haven’t given up on technology in the classroom, but I’m stumped as to how I can use it to help my students without losing their engagement in a lesson. This is what I’d like to get out of the edtech pilot course. I want to find reliable and engaging uses for technology that students can use in the classroom.   It would be great to find tools for students to use outside of the classroom, and I’m sure those will be helpful in the future, but at the moment I have too many students without access.

Personally, I’ve been using Google drive for my slideshows and for communicating with other teachers. For each unit, we share possible activities and handouts in a folder to access, as well as share links to videos or short clips to show students. As a school, we use Google spreadsheets to record low grades of students with other teachers who have the same student. This way we can see if they are only performing low in a single class, or if they have a behavioral issue that is affecting their grade in all of their classes. Teachers can also share strategies to help a student, or at least ideas they have tried. This way all of the teachers of a student who is struggling are communicating to help them get back on track in school. We also use Synergy for reporting grades so that both students and their parents can see how they’re doing online at anytime. Students with internet access at home can check regularly check their progress and see what they are missing as well. One nice thing is you can add a comment to an assignment if a student turned it in late or incomplete so they understand why points may have been marked off.

As you can tell, my use of technology in the classroom is minimal, but I would love to find ways to expand my use if it will really benefit student learning in my classroom.


Image: Science Class by Lokesh Dhakar link

4 Replies to “I used to have high hopes for technology in the classroom but…”

  1. Sounds like you are using it with some success as a presentation and professional collaboration tool. So our challenge will be to find ways to use with students so that they are more productive and not distracted by the edtech. We’ll get on it!

  2. Well, that seems like normal behavior for students when it comes to computers. In this day and age, children are growing up learning that devices with access to WiFi are just huge playgrounds from the “safety” of their homes, even if they do not have a device on them. Keeping them on task while on a computer is one learning curve that us and future teachers are going to have to learn quick and efficiently. So, this is something I hope we get a chance to explore this semester.

    I know the feeling, but my students only get slightly off-track when using the computers. Tell them off and they get back to work. Otherwise, they do the work. I mainly use technology to make my slideshow presentations, Khan Academy, check and put in grades, and email parents. If I want to talk with another teacher, I would usually seek them out in person.

  3. I really like the idea of sharing lesson plans and student data over Google docs. It seems like an easy way to engage with other teachers about student progress. Since all of you see it, intervention can ideally happen before those students get too far off track!

    There are some curriculum resources available on Google docs at Barlow, but the English department hasn’t gotten theirs together yet. It’s coming from the district, and they decide what to put on it.. I hope we can do something more informal like yours seems to be and share what we want between teachers at Barlow.

  4. Kristen, that really does sound like a frustrating challenge! Even with my fifth graders, we sometimes face the same issue, where they use the computer as a toy, and not as a tool for learning. Hopefully there will be a culture shift in the younger generations that grow up using technology as more than a form of entertainment!

    I will say though that Google Drive is a great collaborative resource for students and teachers alike, and its great that you use it so effectively. Wouldn’t it be great if our students would utilize it as well?

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