A relatively short time ago, technology was something that happened in the computer lab at our school. I visit classrooms and the transformative and exponential nature of “new” technology is present. It’s not technology being used for the sake of technology that I observe, but new technology infused in daily school life…technology as a tool that stretches and broadens the fundamental proficiencies we strive for in our students. What are those fundamental proficiencies? I attended a literacy leadership conference at Lesley University this week –a developing blog topic. Irene Fountas prompted us to consider the questions…what is it we want our students doing during literacy learning…what does it mean to be literate in the 21st century…simply stated: Read* Write* Talk* Think. All the other “stuff” we think children need is just stuff. The new literacy with new technologies that are demanded in the classroom will not and should not supplant fundamental and effective literate activity and proficiencies. Teachers will use media, digital, and social literacy to engage students in activities that will enhance learning and move all of us towards navigating and critically thinking about the information in our world. It’s not just about reading, but reading and understanding complex and multiple texts in a creative and critical manner. It’s about finding ways to leverage social media in the school world. Our students [will] know [!] about blogs, glogs, vlogs, twitter, podcasts, wikis, etc. etc. It’s no longer a preference but a responsibility to teach and engage with new technologies new literacies. The MA Common Core Standards explicitly state ways teachers and students can explore technologies to learn, not ways to use technology separate from the learning process. My thoughts are not novel but ideas that LPS educators take on- daunting and exciting at once.
When Ms. Derosier develops her unit on animals and adaptations, she integrates a lesson on what effective research requires using iPads as a tool. Students will research, yes, but also learn how to evaluate and critique the information in different formats.
Mrs. McColgan’s lesson on air pressure includes integrating visual literacy skills. Students engage in collaborative work with a partner to view video – a video that reinforces the experiment and lessons- discuss what they learn and [re] view to take notes on important ideas. The lesson presents the scientific information for mastery but more broadly incorporates skills with new media, skills that students will apply to other learning.
3rd and 4th grade teachers equipped with document cameras flip a switch to visually present or connect their students to information instantaneously. Thanks to our PTO, ELMOS will soon be in our 5th grade classrooms as well. We’re just beginning to tap into the tools that abound [and change] at an astonishing pace.
Final thought for now …what I notice most about technology at Center is that teachers delve into ways to integrate it into their teaching to help students learn in new and creative ways. It is most definitely a reciprocal process as students teach teachers as well! Changing school world indeed but filled with endless exploration and possibility.
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