This is Part II of my Tech Task #1. Click here for Part I.
Please note that these are my experiences with students and technology and yours may vary — let me know if you have had similar/different experiences.
Looking back to high school, I can remember teachers showing videos/documentaries in the classroom. YouTube certainly wasn’t utilized by educators in the same way it is now. In fact… Twitter, Facebook, Polleverywhere.com, blogs, etc. either didn’t exist or weren’t widely used. After experiencing my internship, I honestly can’t comprehend teaching without the technology we have today. I guess that’s the outlook you gain when you grow up in the technological era.
I think that my generation (I am a 90’s kid so somewhere around there) are especially willing to learn new technologies that come out because we were taught how to adapt to these technological changes. Nowadays, I think technology is still changing rapidly but many people assume kids already know how to use and adapt to new technology. This is an easy assumption to make when you see a five-year-old on their cellphone. During my internship, I was helping a student with one assignment and he did the classic finger-peck on the keyboard. I was full of astonishment. He didn’t know how to type? How is that possible? The student told me that he hadn’t taken any classes that taught him how to properly type on a keyboard. I couldn’t believe it; I still remember those competitive typing tests that increased my WPM and literacy skills.
I remember a computer “game” in elementary school that taught us about online predators. This is, quite literally, the only educational knowledge I remember from elementary school. The game went something like this: two girls were talking to online “15 year old” guys and decided to meet them after a few online chats. These two guys turn out to be older predators and abduct them. It’s our job to find out where they are and who abducts them. This is an example of using technology in a meaningful way: we learn how to type, use critical thinking skills, have fun, and learn about the importance of protecting our online identities. This is something we are still talking about today. Talk about real-life application! In retrospect, I realize that that many teachers use technology in a mundane way or “use it for the sake of using it.” This is an unfortunate outlook on technology.
The technology we have today has the ability to greatly enhance a positive and engaging classroom environment. The fact is kids are using technology every single day and teachers need to adapt to this and make genuine learning experiences for students. We are constantly told as teachers that we need to adapt to the needs of our learners. I can’t help but feel technology gets left behind as an adaptation because it is seen as less valuable or too complex when compared to other forms of differentiated instruction. The truth is technology allows us to make learning relevant for students.
As a social studies teacher, I have a great passion for creating lesson that have real-world application. I often hear students say “I hate social studies. Why do we have to learn about things that happened in the past?” at the beginning of the school year. This is a valuable comment that directs my teaching for the rest of the year. Teachers should not only be able to justify why they are teaching something but tell the students beforehand why this information is valuable. As learners, we expect to know why we have to learn something. As teachers, we should be able to answer that question before we teach it so they understand its value.
Current events allow me to make social studies relevant for students. When learning about the Senate of Canada, I could have easily done a lesson on the difference between the House of Commons and the Senate and leave it at that. Instead we decided to investigate why the Senate was made in the first place, the scandals that are happening at the moment, and how the Canadian population would have to vote in order to abolish the senate. Making real-life application is so important for student engagement and using technology will help teachers achieve the end goal: student success.