I agree that students should have recess and play outside.
I agree that young children need to interact in a face-to-face setting.
I agree that it is developmentally critical to engage with paper, paint, blocks, crayons and even the dirt on the ground, because elementary students need to experience the physical world.
But as you know, teachers' minds immediately turn to what we can do differently next year. Considering the fact that classroom management is one of the biggest challenges teachers face, we are always searching for something that will work.
You don't need a class set of netbooks or iPads to integrate technology into your daily instruction. There are some fantastic, free iPhone apps that are perfect for teachers who are looking to change up their daily routine. These apps can make everyday tasks easier, simplify what you're already doing, and maybe just inspire others to make an investment in technology at your school.
For decades, students have been completing assignments in school. Often, these were seen only by the teacher, graded and returned to the student. Sometimes, the work was posted on a classroom wall or in a school hallway. Many teachers kept portfolios of student work for report card conferences, and the rare teacher taught students how to build their own portfolios from their work.
The topic of technology can be confusing. Maybe the most confounding part is reaching a definition of "technology" that works to foster healthy discussion of the best ways that schools can use technology to enhance learning.
Mobile devices are coming to school.The Learning First Alliance (where I am deputy director) and Grunwald Associates, with support from AT&T, recently released Living and Learning with Mobile Devices, which examines parents' attitudes towards mobile devices as learning tools.
You might watch Netflix, HBO Go or Hulu Plus for personal use on your iPad, but while these may not always be appropriate for students, there are many free iPad apps for streaming video that will work great in your classroom. The days of running to the VCR to record a clip off a television program are long gone. If you want to hook students with a film clip, to connect your classwork to reality television, or to inspire children's interest in a topic through educational programming, there are many apps that can be used to stream content on your iPad.
In theory, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs in schools are a great idea; students can use their own tablets, laptops and smartphones in the classroom, and can take advantage of a wider range of apps and programs than they might be able to normally access in school. There is a case to be made that doing so can make schools more cutting edge and capable of engaging students through methods that they're comfortable with. However, there's also a risk that BYOD could lead to bullying and inequality within schools. How, then, can BYOD be successful without causing these kinds of problems?
My students use their iPads as creators every day, whether they are recording their thoughts, using virtual tools or publishing authentic assessments. Content can be both created and consumed using an iPad, and my students take on both roles. There are abundant resources for content consumption, and these apps can be used to teach current events. Many schools are increasing their use of informational and multimedia texts in order to align their instruction to the Common Core Learning Standards. It's important to acknowledge that current events are more than just articles in a newspaper. There are a variety of free iPad apps that students and teachers can use to access high-interest texts and video clips that will connect your classroom to the world.