In addressing ISTE Standard 1: Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity, we were asked to reflect on the question of How can you use technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity, and innovation? The technology available to teachers today is above and beyond what was imagined when some of today’s teachers were just beginning. Integrating new technologies can greatly benefit students, but it is up to the new wave of teachers to come in with the knowledge and skillset to be able to utilize these technologies for the benefit of their students.
In reflecting on the trigger question, I decided my focus question for research would be: How can I use technology to help students see real-world applications of what they learn in class, making it more engaging and meaningful?
In my initial searches, I found many amazing ways high school teachers have incorporated games into classroom learning. Many strategy games require the use of mathematical strategy or historical knowledge, such as Angry Birds or Sid Meyer’s Civilization (a personal favorite). Elementary education, however, seemed to be behind on utilizing technology for real-world applications of knowledge. I did find, however, a refreshing TED Talk by Dan Roberts, a teacher from the Seychelles who uses technology as a tool for student engagement and to further their education. His students have created meaningful projects that, when published online, have gathered quite a following. Those students now know that what they learned and discovered is of interest to someone, somewhere, and is accessible to them through the World Wide Web.
This, then, reminded me of the Arizona Technology Integration Matrix (Northern Arizona University, 2011). The matrix charts Levels of Technology Integration vs. Characteristics of the Learning Environment. While many teachers are becoming fluent in the basic use of technology in delivering content to children (the entry level of Technology Integration), a goal should be to use technology to transform school into a “rich learning environment where blending choice of technology tools with student-initiated investigations, discussions, compositions, or projects…is promoted” (p. 2, NAU, 2011). It would seem difficult to create a classroom where transformative use of technology is the norm, but it would appear as if Dan Roberts has done so. It seems so far and above what many American classrooms have accomplished, but it is still possible. How? That is yet another question.
Thankfully, my learning group member Courtney helped me in finding Step One. TES Connect is a website with a plethora of teacher resources, including a wonderful contribution from none other than Dan Roberts himself. His Web Wonder series introduces teachers to online technologies available for use in the classroom. These range from Exit-Ticket-style corkboard sites to chart and diagram creators. After exploring all of the options, I believe I have found many entry strategies into further integrating technology into my classroom and beginning on the track to the TIM’s Transformative level (NAU, 2011). I will also be following @tesEdTech on twitter in order to update myself on further inspiration.
Roberts, D. [TEDxTalks]. (2011, November 18). TEDxLondon – Dan Roberts. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqnAmSSKXCk
Roberts, D. (2013, May 2). Web Wonder Week #21 – Sliderocket. Retrieved from http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storyCode=6332286
Northern Arizona University (2010-2011). Arizona Technology Integration Matrix.