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Focus on Function: Innovative Uses of Technology

| Jim Moulton

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.

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Comments (25)

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George Rusin (not verified)

Student involvement

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It's nice to see that student involvement is amazing. It appears that students have found something that they like doing and could relate to. By engaging the therapist, you are able to bring a real life situation into the picture and provide greater student involvement, along with better results.

George R.

Arianna Matos (not verified)

My school district does

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My school district does provide a significant amount of technology for every classroom. We are allowed 4 computers and one teacher computer for each classroom. The teacher computer is hooked up to a television so we may show streaming videos and PowerPoint if we chose to. I find the use of this technology in my classroom amazing and use it everyday. My use of the technology ranges from showing streaming videos, to presentations, or just having directions for the next activity posted. I also have my students work in groups and they can research using our class computers. Technology is the students’ second language, so if you relate lessons to technology, children are not only interested but retain the information much better.

SSR (not verified)

I am looking for ways to use

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I am looking for ways to use technology in my primary classroom. With many of my students not yet reading or writing, this seems like a daunting task. I recently was awarded a grant for a SMARTBOARD. This is a major advance in my classroom. I have not learned all the ins and out of it yet, but I am learning. The students love using it for handwriting practice and website learning games.

Innovation and technology was the subject of my professional development day today. We heard amazing things from our speaker, Alan November. One of the things he stressed was how China and India are teaching children to invent. That the children in the US lack this skill. Alan November said in his keynote address today, "There are more gifted children in China then total children in the US. How will our students be able to compete?" (Alan Novemer, Key Note Address, January 21, 2008) We must use technology to bring out the creativity and critical thinking of our students.

I look forward to reading more posts about how other educators are using technology.

Kelly Dunston (not verified)


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Flash Rehab
My class is currently using flash, a projector and interactive whiteboard to create a rehabilitation program for use in our local hospital. The idea came about when a community member was temporarily disabled in a horse riding accident. We have worked with local physical therapists to develop a series of visual and physical tests which require basic and advanced nuerological functions. We are in the beginning phases of this project, but the amount of student interest and involvement has been amazing.

Tara Peters (not verified)

Federally Operated Programs

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I am new to blogging, so please forgive me if I don't make a lot of sense. I just recently got my first teaching job as a teacher for a Head Start classroom in Dubuque, Iowa. While I love my new job and the interaction I have with the students, there are a few concerns that I have. For example, my classroom has no computers- which to me is a vital aspect of teaching. Is this normal for a federally operated program? Also, I am in charge of a program called the Wrap Around Program, we received a grant for this program, but there seem to be no rules or regulations written anywhere to go by. Again, this seems odd that a federally operated program has no written rules. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can find information on this situation? Thanks

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