Veteran kindergarten teacher Chris Crowell, who has been incorporating technology into his classroom teaching since the era of the floppy disc, said, “There’s never been a better time to be a teacher or a curious kid.”
The use of technology in the classroom is on the rise. From weekly visits to the desktop computer lab to individual tablets for all students, schools all across the country are finding innovative ways to make use of the latest digital devices, programs and apps.
What Is the Latest Hardware in Classroom Tech?
Many schools have been able to provide laptops, document cameras, projectors and smart boards for teachers to enhance direct instruction. While in the past, teachers have had to stand at the board, with their backs to the students while working on a problem or worksheet, they can now project their paper-and-pencil examples or read-aloud story so that students at every desk can clearly see and keep up.
For individual students, tablets and Chromebooks are the most popular. Tablets are popular because of their easy interface and touchscreens. Chromebooks are often chosen because they are inexpensive, have various hardware options and simple operating systems.
These small and internet-ready devices can be assigned to students for year-long, independent use. Or they can be available to students to check out from the learning center or as part of a class set. Some teachers set up a mini-lab in their classrooms where devices are plugged in and stay in one place. They can also be used for center work, areas where students work independently while the teacher is working with small groups or individuals.
What Programs, Apps and Software Are Popular?
Besides searching the internet to gather information for research projects, students are using technology in a variety of ways:
Sharing work. Students can use student-safe blog sites, like the very simple Kidblog or Glogster, to work collaboratively, submit homework and share ideas, images and videos. SchoolTube is “a safe, moderated environment where students can post self-produced videos for classroom use.” These are only two of the many platforms on which students can safely work and publish their projects and ideas.
Studying independently. Students can work at their own pace when studying vocabulary, math facts, and even reading comprehension. On the Free Rice 2.0 website, students can learn about famous paintings, basic math, and prepare for the SAT while donating rice to end world hunger. There are also apps like Cram and Quizlet.
Teachers use technology for finding and presenting instruction, as well as for sharing information with their students and communicating with families. They can also use technology to encourage good behavior and hard work.
TeacherVision’s Instant Expert provides ready-made mini lessons in a variety of subjects to enhance, supplement or replace the curriculum provided by the school district.
Projectable and sharable websites like Edmodo provide quick and easy ways for teachers to reinforce good behaviors by projecting a visible checklist that can be archived for data tracking. They also provide direct contact with parents and guardians, publicize homework assignments and important dates, and send and receive private messages. Jennie Dickerson, 5th grade teacher at McCleery Elementary School in Aurora, Illinois uses ClassDojo to “communicate with parents in a way that doesn’t feel invasive. I’m able to share photos with parents so they can feel like they have been a part of our day and use it to help with discussions at home about school.”
In almost every subject area, technology can reinforce learning, provide additional information or help students keep pace with what is happening in the world around them.
The following are just a few of the many ways teachers and students can use technology on a daily basis:
- Broadcast or post local weather reports.
- Listen to world news in a foreign language to jumpstart class conversations.
- Introduce a word or problem of the day.
- Assign online worksheets that are more like games than work.
Technology has become an integral part of the classroom. Both students and teachers depend on the internet, apps and programs to keep current, study and practice. When you earn an M.Ed. in Elementary Education from Mississippi College, you will have the skills and knowledge to “effectively integrate technology across the curriculum” and keep up with current trends while you engage your students and help them succeed in an ever-changing world.
Learn more about the MC online M.Ed. in Elementary Education program.