Facebook
Edutopia on Facebook
Twitter
Edutopia on Twitter
Google+
Edutopia on Google+
Pinterest
Edutopia on Pinterest Follow Me on Pinterest
WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
Subscribe to RSS

Focus on Function: Innovative Uses of Technology

Jim Moulton

Technology Integration and Project-Based Learning Consultant

En route to work in a school in Illinois, I was sitting in a narrow seat on a regional jet. It had been a bit of a long day, and I began to drift off to sleep, only to be snapped back awake time after time by the uncomfortable shape of the headrest. I needed a pillow, but this was a late-afternoon flight on a regional jet, meaning my chance of getting one was nil.

So I took my paperback copy of Daniel H. Pink's A Whole New Mind, rolled it up, placed it at the base of my neck, and slept. It wasn't quite the ever-sought-after "like a baby" version of sleep, but the support of this fine tome (seriously: Pink's book has made a huge impact on my thinking, and I urge all to read it) gave me the support my spine needed in that pesky base-of-the-neck region.

And this experience got me to thinking about innovative uses of stuff, and I remembered a high school science teacher from South Portland, Maine, who was in a session in which I was demonstrating the ProScope digital microscope. She was impressed with the device but shared that, using a simple point-and-shoot digital camera and a traditional microscope, she and her students were collecting dramatic images that were proving effective in supporting student understanding of complex concepts.

In a previous post, I wrote about various ways a digital projector can be used in a classroom, and many of those ideas go more than a bit beyond the traditional uses of projecting a computer screen onto a larger screen or even an interactive whiteboard.

But I know there are brilliant innovations out there I will never think of, so my question is, "How are you using technology in innovative ways to support your teaching and kids' learning?" Go for it -- surprise us!

And, as a bonus, after you read A Whole New Mind, you'll understand just how fundamentally important this innovation thing is.

Jim Moulton

Technology Integration and Project-Based Learning Consultant
Related Tags:

Comments (25)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Heather's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am a kindergarten teacher who has several computers and a document camera with a projector in my classroom. I have my students use phonemic awareness programs on the computers to support reading skills. The document camera is a new tool in my classroom this year. I use it to show examples much like I used to use an overhead (hope that makes sense). I also use it to show student work. It works great to enlarge anything and project it so that the entire class can view it at once. Does anyone out there have any other ideas for how I can use these items? I am always looking for new ways to enrich my students educational experience.

Dania Ch.'s picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am a science teacher. I teach grade 7 students. Concerning the use of technology in our classrooms, I consider it a vital step. I use computers and SmartBoards in my classes a lot. I have been trained to convert my lesson (or parts of it) to a "computerized" one and I found it very effective and interesting. As a science teacher, it's very important to post pictures, streaming videos and scientific animations to students during instructions. I use this technology since two years. Excuse me if I consider myself an "expert" in smartboards. I help fellow teachers during workshops and training sessions to work effectively with it. I am helping my school in building an electronic archive of Flash educational animations, pictures and many other educational materials. In addition to using this technology in visual presentations, I use it for students' assessment. I create small pop quizzes that students can undergo in groups. I benefit from its ability to reinforce cooperative learning. I do this by creating a page for every group of students to monitor their work during sessions. They love it and become motivated, especially when they see this dancing monkey jumping to sit in their group when they get a correct answer.

Dania Ch.'s picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am a science teacher. I teach grade 7 students. Concerning the use of technology in our classrooms, I consider it a vital step. I use computers and SmartBoards in my classes a lot. I have been trained to convert my lesson (or parts of it) to a "computerized" one and I found it very effective and interesting. As a science teacher, it's very important to post pictures, streaming videos and scientific animations to students during instructions.
I use this technology since two years. Excuse me if I consider myself an "expert" in smartboards. I help fellow teachers during workshops and training sessions to work effectively with it. I am helping my school in building an electronic archive of Flash educational animations, pictures and many other educational materials.
In addition to using this technology in visual presentations, I use it for students' assessment. I create small pop quizzes that students can undergo in groups. I benefit from its ability to reinforce cooperative learning. I do this by creating a page for every group of students to monitor their work during sessions. They love it and become motivated, especially when they see this dancing monkey jumping to sit in their group when they get a correct answer.

Jenny's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

During a staff meeting this year, a social studies teacher talked about how great blogging is and how he is using it in his classroom. I had no clue what he was talking about or how blogging could help my students as I didn't even know blogging existed. This teacher set up a blog with his various classes for reviews before tests. He would post each individual question from a review and the students could go into the website and answer the review question or ask a fellow classmate about the question. This may be a little bit harder in math classes where writing mathematically takes some time; however, I am excited to give it a try after learning how beneficial and exciting this can be for my students.

Are there any math teachers out there that have done anything similar to this? Or does anyone else have an idea for incorporating technology into a math classroom?

Thank you in advance! Jenny

Karen Mullins's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I teach Computer Technology and multimedia classes.(9-12th grade) A recent assignment is for our multimedia class to make videos for the students who are transitioning from the elementary to the middle school and from middle school to high school. The students love this opportunity to share information they have learned with their younger friends and relatives (we are a small school). Additionally, our web design class is making web pages for each teacher in our school so that parents and community members may access classroom assignments and teacher notes. Our science teachers seem to be the most adept at using technology outside of the business dept. They have their students make movies using Windows movie maker about cell development and they use their smartboards all the time.

Jeanne's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hello Jenny - I am assuming you teach highschool rather than elementary like myself but I still think you may be able to use this tip. I am sure there are some out there if you are not able to create your own but webquests are great tools in all content areas including math. I did a telling time one with students but you may need a different focus of course. If you are unsure of what a webquest is you can google some or maybe other teachers in your building have some but they are basically activities that link a series of tasks that students have to complete using the internet for research or completing games or activities and then completing related work by printing off activities through links that you provide or by tyiping thier responses and then printing. Basically they are hard to describe but doable.The very basic one I created for second graders for time is http://tickitytockaroundtheclock.googlepages.com/. I also googled a few math ones to show you what I am talking about: http://www.spa3.k12.sc.us/WebQuests/Basketball/index.htm#Question/Task
or
http://projects.edtech.sandi.net/grant/metricquest/ .

Hope you like the idea :) !
Jeanne

Jeanne's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I have a pre-k class so student use is limited for technology because they are young and I do not have student computers. However, I use powerpoint and digital stories with them. I also let them use the digital camera to create their own digital books. I use technology to type a daily news to the families and to create digital portfoliios for assessment. There are many other ways to use technology. It is so amazing. With older students I have done webquests as well. It is wonderful to see everyone's ideas that are posted. I have knowledge of smartboards but they are not yet popular in my area - I can't wait until they are.

Jeanne

Kacie Heitlauf's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am a 2nd grade teacher in a technology enhanced district. My district is located in Redmond, Washington, where Microsoft has built its foundation. Maybe being in the same area has provided a sort of technological precedent that is trying to be duplicated for our children. Our district has successfully provided Promethean ActivBoards (a type of Smartboard) and document cameras for every single classroom, K-12. I have only been teaching for two years and I was overwhelmed with the technology options that I had for my teaching practices and my students learning. Students are growing up in an ever advancing, technology-centered world and all of the new educational tools are making it easier to engage and motivate children in the classroom.
I use the ActivBoard for interactive presentations, educational video clips about important historical events (mostly found on www.unitedstreaming.com) and as a traditional whiteboard to write on and where students can write on as well. Students are always very engaged when I am looking for someone to show their work or demonstrate a math problem. I can also copy and paste any image that we are discussing such as famous paintings when doing an art lesson. By copying these images onto my ActivBoard flipchart, I can highlight certain aspects that exemplify the lesson's objective. The ActivBoard is run by software located on my projection computer, so I can also access the Internet and other programs and applications. This is very useful when showing my students a new program or website I would like them to visit during our twice-weekly computer lab visits.
The document camera has a variety of functions that meet my students' needs. Of course it can display any flat paper or object without being made into a transparency like overheads required. My document camera is used to model student construction or manipulatives in math. It is very useful when examining something up close, like in our life science unit about insects. We were talking about the body structures of an insect and I was able to stick a mealworm under the camera and magnify it, so the students could see exactly what I was talking about. With any visual that I wanted to save, I could take a picture of the image that would save onto my projection computer. I feel like the technological possibilities are endless for my students and me.

Jennifer Brown's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

If you want to give students an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned, allow them to use micosoft publisher to create brochures. Older students get very creative with powerpoint presentations as well. It gives them a break from written tests and reports.

Jennifer Brown's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

We spend a great deal of time teaching our students to follow the rules. We show them how to find the solution to problems without allowing them the opportunity to disciver solutions on their own.

Sign in and Join the Discussion! Not a member? Register to join the discussion.