Monday, March 30, 2009

Teaching With Technology

As of right now, I am scheduled to lead a session of staff development this summer on using a TI Navigator in the math classroom. This is an awesome piece of technology for math classes that connects the class through the students' calculators that are hooked up to wireless hubs that is ultimately linked to my computer. I really like using them in class and students for the most part love them. I can send quizzes to student on the calculator and then when I collect them on my computer, the program automatically grades it for me. This is quite handy for easy skills checks in class! We also have a feature called Quick Poll where I can send questions to the class and they answer on the calculators so that the class can see everyone's answers (kind of like the CPS systems). The best part is the Activity Center where the students have individual controls on their calculator- so they can control a point or a graph and manipulate it all while other students are doing the same thing and everything is projected onto the screen at once. Today we used this in class for the first time in a while since I have been gone for 3 months on maternity leave. One of my students actually said 'I have missed using these things!' I was so excited to hear that! I really think they enjoy doing something different and like using their calculators to keep them engaged in class.

So this brings me to my point of today's posting. The head of math who asked me to help in presenting this session told me she expected this to be a beginner session because there are Navigators unopened in boxes on all campuses. Now, I can't say I am surprised, but it is disappointing that we have such great teaching tools (and REALLY expensive teaching tools at that!) just sitting in boxes and not being used. I totally understand that it takes a while to learn the program and you can't just jump in and start using it. However, like with anything else, it takes a little bit of practice and then you can catch on pretty quickly. I am still learning the ins and outs, but this is my third year to have one in my classroom and I just try to add a little more each year. I wonder how many other departments have great resources available to teachers that aren't being used. Again, teachers need to work on branching out of their comfort zone to really reach students on a new level which include learning and using new technologies! This can only help keep students engaged in the lessons and help them reach success in class. Just think- even if a teacher used the Navigator once a 6 weeks (or any piece of technology), that is better than nothing! Then the next year they could try to use it once a month....even if a student gets that exposure to that technology 9 times that year, it could make a huge difference in that year for them!


  1. "Again, teachers need to work on branching out of their comfort zone to really reach students on a new level which include learning and using new technologies!"

    How true! I have found many teachers get in the midset of, "I have done this for so many years...." I guess what they don't realize is that the world they were preparing their students for isn't the same world we are preparing our students for. Technology is ever changing and it is our jobs as teachers to educate our students on the technology and how to use it correctly.

    Good luck with your workshop. Teaching teachers isn't the easiest thing to do. : )

  2. I see the same thing, and I am sure I am guilty in certain areas. One of our teachers uses digital video in her English classes to create an E-hollywood biography of characters in stories. The students create the characters and then edit the video and present it to the class. This is a great way to teach characterization outside the box. You can interview "parents" of the characters, "friends" and "enemies." I think this is great, but I haven't taken the time to get to it in my class. I need to get out of my comfort zone if I expect my kids to. Good post.

  3. As an elementary technology facilitator this is something I see on a regular basis. As I have mentioned before…. In my experience as a classroom teacher, I witnessed the positive impact technology had on my students.

    In agreement with you Jen, as this technologically driven world moves forward, the need to adapt the role of the educator, as well as meet the demands of the future, are imperative.

    In going from old school to new school, the majority of educators are modifying their baseline teaching approach by facilitating learning, instead of simply dispensing knowledge.

    Today, technology in the classroom is an instrument utilized to deliver instruction/information to accommodate all learning styles. This said, technology has opened the door to a wealth of information that has the capabilities to enhance the educational structure we offer to our students.

    Most of our students are entering the classroom with a wealth of pre-exposed knowledge to technology and are aware of what the internet has to offer. As educators, it is essential for us to evolve with this generation and with the evolution of technology into our daily lives.

    I commend all of you for enrolling in this book study, expanding your understanding of the Web 2.0 tools, and taking full advantage of the power of the Read/Write Web as well as realizing the potential use of these tools to enhance student knowledge.

    With the Internet becoming a Read/Reflect/Write/Participate Web; I would LOVE to see all of our FISD staff in the forefront expanding their knowledge of web tools to create 21st century learning skills so they may effectively prepare our students for future success.

    Excellent post Jen!