The Truths of Technology and a WINNER!Thursday, June 20, 2013
One of the things I have been exploring this summer is how I can integrate technology into my classroom more next year. I wanted to reflect on this a little and share a little about my journey with technology with y'all...
I have had the opportunity to work in two very different school districts. The first district I taught in was in a low socio-economic area, with many students who had little to no access to technology in their homes. However, during my 2 years teaching this school, I had ample technology to use and have the students use in the classroom. At each grade level we were lucky to have a 1:2 ratio of laptops to students. In other words, we would share a class set of laptops between two classes. Basically, we were able to use them every other day, or we worked out a consecutive day schedule as needed. This was amazing! These laptops had the capablities of multiple softwares, were new and worked fast, and connected and STAYED connected to the internet. I also had a brand new Smartboard and teacher computer that I was able to use to present ideas to students, create interactive presentations, and allow students to present projects.
One of the main projects we used these laptops for was "Our Trip Down the Nile River." On the first day of the project I moved all of the desks out of the room and used floor tape to tape the shape of an "Egyptian Felucca" (sailboat.) I then created a video in MovieMaker with photos, sound effect, and animated features where we "sailed" down the river as we sat in our Felucca. We visited our first site, The Great Pyramids at Giza. After this opening day, students were engaged and excited. I then put students into groups and assigned them each a site along the Nile. They had to use Moviemaker to create a presentation where we could virtually "visit" their site. Their rubric included requirements such as interactive element, sound effects, a certain number of photographs, and to make it as realistic as possible.
This is just one example of the many ways we were able to use technology because we had the technology available. I never realized just how wonderful and lucky we were, until I moved school districts. I LOVE the district I teach in now and I LOVE teaching 4th Grade Language Arts and Social Studies. However, because we are more of a middle class school district, the state funding is not the same and we do not have the monies for the technology that I was used to. We are lucky to have Smartboards in every room that I use for presentations, interactive lessons, videos, and sound recordings. We also have laptop carts, but only about a 1:5 ration of laptops to students. These laptops are extremely old, in need of reimaging, and struggle to connect and stay connected to the internet.
I will be perfectly honest, due to the struggle we have with our technology equipment, I don't use it nearly as much as I should. I get so frustrated when I plan a lesson integrating technology, and the technology doesn't work. I feel like I spend so much wasted "teaching time" and moments just trying to make everything work. I would like to get past this frustration, and try and incorporate technology more in my classroom next year. I would like to get back to using it in Social Studies like I used to, especially. By using it with our Social Studies curriculum, I will also be working in Language Arts concepts and Skills.
I also discovered a WONDERFUL new technology last year called "Schoology", basically a "Educational Facebook" for the classroom. This is something I plan on using regularly next year for Language Arts group discussions and relfection. I will also use it to give comprehension quizes that can be completed at home or at school, and to keep parents and students updated on projects and upcoming assignments. Another technology I'd like to use more of is Wiki's. I think it would be a great idea to do group Social Studies projects where students create their own group Wiki on their topic, and students can navigate through it to learn about that topic.
Do you experience similar frustrations with technology? Am I the only one who feels guilty and that I'm "wasting" precious instructional time trying to get technology to work? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
I also want to thank all of you for downloading and leaving positive feedback on my 300 follower freebie! I hope you are all able to enjoy it and use it in your classroom :)
Thank you all who shared my giveaway, too! My husband picked number 6, so Lori over at Life in Room 24, you win two free products from my TPT store! I am emailing you now to claim your goodies :) Congrats!