Technology in the classroom

images4The story so far…There was a time (and in some places it still is)  when technology in the classroom of a school meant either having a room equipped with audio visual devices, usually a tape recorder and a VCR or advertising your school as a smart class equipped school with some classrooms fitted with projectors connected to a new generation writing board called the smart board. It all started with using these facilities in regular periodic classes  showing children educational content.

Those  were the days when teachers were to be coaxed and sometimes forced to make use of the topic wise available electronic academic content at least for a fixed mandatory  number of hours .The content sometimes not up to mark but not easily recognizably so, did serve the purpose of a break from monotonous class schedules for both students and teachers. Teachers mostly stuck with the idea of anything to do with the computers being an automatic referral to the computer teacher! Real beneficiaries of the set up being the top level students with the gap between there content clarity and mastery of a topic being bridged.

A good start no doubt ! What now ?screen_shot_2015-09-29_at_11.00.04_am_137250

Today  the ability  to use technology is not under a scanner at all!  Use of smart phones, social media and fondness for making home videos and picture collages  have very easily taken care of that hurdle! Most good schools today are in a position to use technology as an instructional tool rather than just a subject of instruction. However, complete seamless integration is still a far cry generally.

Need of the hour therefore, is to introduce technology seamlessly into our school lessons and  school work by teachers for both themselves and students. Teachers must comfortably shift from digital to traditional and vice versa as and when required .Students must employ technology daily in the classroom using a variety of tools to complete assignments and create projects that show a deep understanding of content.

Some of the ways of Technology Integration in a School Classroom

  • Teacher specific tools
  • Online learning and blended classrooms
  • Project-based activities
  • Game-based learning
  • Learning with mobile devices
  • Instructional tools like interactive whiteboards and student response systems
  • Web-based projects, explorations, and research
  • Student-created media
  • Collaborative online tools like wikis or google docs
  • Using social media to engage students
  • Flipped classrooms

Some reasons for teacher resistance to the usage:

  • It is hard to affect change in the way one teaches, especially given that many educators work confidently with familiar and proven methods.
  • Already working hard, teachers may understandably be wary of anything with the potential of making  their job more complicated .
  • Using technology or to be more specific  even only electronic academic content  requires meticulous planning and time even if it is for lower classes. The added time might prove to be a deterrent for some.

What might help:

  • Including teachers in the decision making processes to evaluate the extent of use and what to use helps to a certain extent .
  • Though the planning and execution of how new technology will be integrated are important, at the end of the day, what matters most when selecting technology is its ease of use.
  • There can be no substitute for the time spent on planning .Planning HAS to be done with proper time spent on it. This, is where a Head who is himself /herself well planned can help. Regular integration of  time slots for academic content planning right down to the micro level within  the school time schedule itself  is a big help.

Technology, is here to stay  and students today  are coming to class with more and more technical know-how whether a teacher likes it or not. There are still many educators, less familiar and less comfortable with technology than their students, struggling  to seamlessly integrate a growing list of technology tools into their regular curriculum.

So it’s high time we educators came out of our comfortable stupor, stemming out of a superiority claimed due to experience .Let’s decide, we want to reach the top of the pyramid of technology integration or no!

 

 

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Levels of technology integration

The ‘Building Language’ Blues :A hunt for the treasure, that is- language

Using the games Treasure Hunt and Scavenger Hunt for language development and for enhancing communication skills  

At the forerunner of my quest for ways of developing language skills in children is the use of the two games Treasure Hunt and Scavenger Hunt .The idea stemmed out of a personal need for making my children’s birthdays and gifts received- special and at the same time educative.

At this juncture I would like to re-produce here an extract of an article I wrote last year on the same issue(www.tutelageviewpoint.blogspot.com) for parents:

Ever since my children became aware of the world around them I wanted them to have birthdays which they would not ever forget ( I think all mothers secretly wish for their children to associate them with at least one particular cherished memory) .Well my wish kept on troubling me and the D-Day -the Birthday of my first born was fast approaching. I knew, rather than buying a single expensive gift I wanted to give him (my son) several small things of his liking .So here I was with my treasure of gifts ( a pom-pom, a funny faced teddy and so on) standing ,still wondering what to do ?…

Here is what I did.I made a treasure hunt of all the gifts I had(nine or ten) for my son .The questions in the treasure hunt served as brain teasers for him.They tested his previous knowledge and  linked it with things new, thus helping him augment  his rapidly growing knowledge bank .The joy of finding each treasure after a struggle added a new dimension to the learning process.The added advantages of the whole family being involved in a fun activity created unforgettable memories. The fun starts with the Birthday boy’s eyes being closed and his being taken to the first clue ,which of course is the easiest one and the first treasure almost always being a coveted eatable.

As I experimented with it year after year I found the list of things that could be taught to be endless. Be it vocabulary, language, comprehension and listening skills, critical and sequential thinking……the sky was and is the limit.

Gradually I have successfully included it in formal classroom settings as well as garden and home settings.A extract of the  games in progress can be viewed as the video Creating an effective learning environment -A milestone in an ongoing quest   at:

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The beauty of the games adapted (in this case) with an aim to familiarise children with idioms and making them adept with the usage of some known and some new vocabulary, lies in the fact, that although the teacher/parent is loosely able to channelise the flow of thoughts and the path taken, children’s unschooled responses and reactions can lead to entirely unplanned but wonderful learning outcomes too.

The examples shown, showcase how the games give ample opportunity to :

the teacher/parent  to –

  •  evaluate a child on a number of counts and re-think her/his teaching strategies.
  • have the immediate flexibility of molding her words according to learner responses.

the children to-

  • get an opportunity to communicate, think as a team and learn how to sequence their thoughts, think logically and critically .The kinesthetic and visual learners along with the musical ones have there share of learning too.

Thinking beyond the barriers and boundaries of subjects along-with the excitement of overcoming the challenge of solving a puzzle(s) is an added advantage and  motivates even the under achievers of the formal academic settings.

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Note : The same strategy can be used for any language.