Take a Step Toward Technology
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12
Take a Step Toward Technology
Interactive learning can enrich your curriculum. Here are a Technology Specialist's best tips — and our suggestions for how to realize them in your classroom.
Picture a 2nd grade classroom. Ms. Jones sees that her students are not responding to a unit on U.S. government that relies heavily on printed materials. She incorporates the "If You Were President Game," part of Democracy @ Work, and government starts to become relevant for her students.
Meanwhile, during reading time in a Kindergarten classroom, a class of 18 is split up into small groups so Mr. Levy can do focused phonics work with a few students at a time. He uses Clifford the Big Red Dog Interactive Storybooks to engage his pre-readers. In both of these cases, technology provides solutions for enlivening and enriching learning, but how to best use these components is a skill that must be learned.
Angela Jones, a Technology Specialist at Walsingham Elementary School in Florida, says her job is to "give teachers the tools and opportunities they need to make integration a success." She started out as a classroom teacher for 8th and 9th grade Language Arts, but for the past five years she has helped teachers integrate technology into their daily lessons and units. She oversees a student-run school TV station and has plans to start a student tech club. Here's her insight on how you can start tapping into technology and keep going in the right direction.
How to Begin
Use technology for administrative tasks. To gain comfort and familiarity, Angela recommends teachers use the computer on a daily basis for sending e-mails, recording grades, or planning curriculum.
Tap into professional development opportunities. Seek out technology assessment and training within your school or district. Also consider distance learning that you can take for credit, including offerings from Scholastic RED.
Start small. First, use technological resources as a reference tool. For instance, print out an online lesson plan that fits into one of your units. Next, look for ways to incorporate technology directly into your teaching.
Find a buddy. A fellow teacher, friend, or family member who is tech savvy can help you with the basics. As you build knowledge, you'll be able to swap approaches and resources. Check in with the outstanding teachers linked below to keep up with their latest and greatest ideas all year long:
How to Go Farther
Put everyone on the same page. Open the lines of communication between home and school by encouraging parents to contact you through e-mail. Or, using a simple word processing program, create a class newsletter to communicate with parents and students.
Support students who learn at different rates. Educational software guides students and offers them the opportunity to move forward at their own pace. For instance desktop publishing or art software offers a range of experiences within one program. Advanced students can power ahead, while those who need more time can work through programs with your supervision.
How to Keep Learning
Take as much computer training as possible. Angela recommends teachers become knowledgeable — and comfortable — with a variety of technological resources. Contact your school's technology coordinator or seek out opportunities within your district. Also take a look at resources from Scholastic.com.
- Investigate using digital cameras as learning tools.
- Spark writing and reading comprehension in a fresh way by inviting authors into your classroom virtually.
- Learn how to make your classroom computer center work for you.
Use the best resource that's sitting right in front of you, your students! Even at younger grades, technologically proficient kids can help their classmates. Angela says, "Don't be afraid to use your students." Invite your class to brainstorm ways to use technology for upcoming projects and presentations. Are your students so excited about a book, they've just got to share it? Open up an ongoing dialogue about not only what, but how your students are learning, and your class time will move to a whole new level.