SmartBlog on Education will shine a light on education technology innovations during the month of May, exploring the latest products and tools and the hottest trends in ed-tech. ASCD Emerging Leader Natalie McCutchen kicks off our coverage this month with a look at mobile tech in the middle-school math classroom.
Teaching provides the opportunity to take students on a daily adventure, exposing them to new learning in a variety of ways. Teaching with technology kicks this learning into overdrive where students can take more ownership of their learning and where they can discover new and different ways of learning.
Technology adds a great value to the educational experience, putting the world at the fingertips of students allowing to explore content in a whole new way. Some of the benefits of technology include students are more focused, students have more fun learning, students are more connected with learning, students are more engaged, students can learn at their own pace, and students learn essential 21st century skills.
There are tons of technology tools available for use in classrooms today. A simple search on the Internet will result in a multitude of tools that can be categorized into subjects, grade levels and types of activities. There are many how-to videos and step-by-step instructions to make implementation of technology tools more user friendly.
Last year, I learned about flipped learning and instantly knew I had to implement it in my classroom. Flipped learning focuses on the Four Pillars of F-L-I-P. One of the aspects of flipped learning includes making videos of instruction and having students access the videos outside of class which results in a more collaborative classroom where students are able to work cooperatively during class to dive deeper into the content. Utilizing flipped learning has allowed me to create a more self-paced, differentiated classroom where students are able to progress through learning at a speed that is ideal for their learning. Access tools for flipped learning.
This year, my school district obtained Google Apps for Education, which means I now have access to Google Classroom. Google Classroom is an amazing technology tool that utilizes many of the functionalities of Google, where teachers can create and collect assignments paperless-ly and make copies of documents that are organized in a separate Google Drive folder for each student. Some of the benefits of Google Classroom include easy set up, saves time, improves organization, enhances communication, affordability and security. I have used Google Classroom this year to create a paperless, online classroom where students can access my content when it is convenient for them. I am able to put a variety of materials on my Google Classroom and students can access the materials when needed; this lends itself easily to differentiation.
Many teachers struggle with the implementation of technology in their classroom. The key is to not be afraid to try; find a technology tool or app that would work best for your students and start exploring. Better yet, set some parameters and let the students start exploring. Technology provides a new way to learn that makes learning more self-directed for students; when students take more ownership of their learning, their learning is personalized and more meaningful. If done correctly, technology can take learning to new heights; it will create an environment where students are in charge of their own learning. As time goes on, using technology will become easier and it will become a natural part of learning.
Natalie McCutchen is a National Board Certified Teacher and a Hope Street Group Kentucky Teacher Fellow. She teaches seventh-grade math at Franklin-Simpson Middle School in Simpson County, Ky. McCutchen is an ASCD Emerging Leader.