Play and Teach Important Components for New Technology

Over the course of the past few weeks, as I have been introducing my students to the use of cell phones in class.  I have come to some conclusions about the use of technology in the classroom.  While I know that these conclusions are not new revelations in the educational technology they are points that I think as teachers we often forget when we introduce new technology into a classroom setting.

The number one thing that I feel is most important is to give kids time to PLAY with the technology.  Often times we introduce a new technology and expect students to beginning using this technology for educational purposes without letting them have time to play and experiment with the technology.  This leaves the students frustrated since they want to experiment with the the technology and see what it can do.  It also leaves the teacher frustrated because they feel that all they do is monitor the students to make sure that they are using it correctly.  If students are allowed time to play with the technology, when it comes time to use it they will not only have a better understanding of the technology they will have also satisfied their inquisitive nature.  This will allow teachers to get the most out of the technology that they use.

Another important thing I have found is TEACH the kids how to use the technology.  So many teachers introduce technology and just expect students to be able to us it.  I hear teachers often say, “well these kids know more than I do about technology”.  This false belief that students are fluent with technology can cause frustration for students and teachers.  Conducting a web-search is a great example.  Often time teachers take students to the lab and tell students to look up information on a given topic.  After two minutes hands start to go up and students say ” I can not find anything on this topic”.  Teachers respond by saying that is ridiculous there is a massive amount of information on this topic.  Frustration has now set in for both the teacher and the students. It is at this point that motivation and focus have been lost and the activity often times is not going to be successful.  Taking the time to show students how to conduct a proper web search is a critical skill that is often over looked by many teachers.  Just googling it often will not net the results that will truly help a student.

Allowing students time to develop the necessary skills and giving them time to play are critical components of the use of technology in the classroom.  If these two components are not developed with all new technology the use of that technology will not be successful and will often turn students away from technology.

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Student Centered = Student Engagement

Well due to state testing I had to post pone my Augmented reality game until today.  But something happened yesterday that got me thinking and I wanted to share.  During lunch on Mondays a group of teachers meet in our building to watch and discuss a video on an educational topic.  We call it Motivation Mondays.  The purpose of this is to find new and inovative ways to teach.

Yesterday, we watched a video on TED called ” Dan Meyer: Math class needs a makeover.”  Not being a math teacher I contemplated not going to this meeting but I am glad I did.  This talk which you can see below was not just about math but rather about teaching.  He brought up some profound points about having students getting involved in their learning.  Not just by participating but by helping to create the learning process.  This can be done in any subject and creates engagement and a link for students, so that they see the relevance of their learning.  Teachers must get away from the canned approach to learning that has become so previlant in our educational system.  This canned approach often cause student boredom and creates a disconnect with what they are learning.  If students do not see the relevance and purpose for what they are learning they will have a hard time being engaged.  This was a great video. I recommend it at any faculty meeting.  It will bring up some great discussion.   Check it out below.

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Why should I teach like I am in 1970 when it is 2010?

I have been surprised by the emails and discussions that I have had with people over the changes I have made in my room.  I blogged about this change a while back in a post called “Revamping My Classroom: Goodbye Desks Hello Couches and Beanbags“.  In this post I describe how I changed my room to see if a new environment would be more conducive to learning.  While the jury is still out on its effectiveness, I have been very surprised and disheartened by the amount concern this has created among teachers.

As teachers we must change to the times to provide the best learning environment for our students.  If you are not willing to change and try new things, you will not be a successful teacher.  We all have good lessons that we use over and over again, but even these lessons need to be tweaked to meet the needs of students today. Change is something that must happen often.  Changing how we engage students and the tools we use, allows teachers to meet the needs of more of our students.  The idea behind changing my room was to create a more relaxed atmosphere and to have students collaborate more.  I have found that at this point engagement is up and there is no difference in classroom management.  I did not tell my students why I was doing this, but I have had a few students say to me that my room feels more relaxed.

The resistance to change among teachers just does not make sense to me.  If you work with kids, it is a process of trial and error.  This is

Change Education

Education Needs To Change

in essence change.  So why does anytime a teacher thinks outside of the box and challenge the norms of teaching does it cause such a a big stir?  The reaction of adults and other teachers is really strong when they see my room.

“What are you doing?”

“That will never work.”

“Students can’t learn like that.”

These are some of the comments from parents and teachers.  Education has to change. The way I was taught as a kid will not work on a student of today.  So why should I teach like I am in 1970 when it is 2010?

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Interactive Learning Content for your Students with “Magic Studio”

Magic Studio provides teachers the ability to create interactive content for their classes.  Teachers can create Drag and drop activities that allow students to manipulate content by dragging items to specific locations to show learning.  Teachers can also combine different multimedias by embedding them into an image, and then allow students to explore the image exposing students to different types of media and content.  Teachers can also create online presentations, quizzes and even interactive timelines for students to explore and learn.  These are some great tools for creating interactive online content for students and is a resource that would be very beneficial for any teacher.

Check out this resource at http://www.magicstudio.com/

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