How do I use technology in my classroom? And what does it actually look like in practice?
Last Friday there was a guest speaker in my Teaching with Technology class. For the life of me I can't remember his name (I tried to find the info, but to no avail). So, we'll just call him John. Who knows, this might actually be his name.
John is a math teacher. This year, he was teaching his students how to solve parametric functions and equations. I'm not really a math person, so I had to look up what parametric means. According to wikipedia, a "parametric equation is a method of defining a relation using parameters. A simple kinematic example is when one uses a time parameter to determine the position, velocity, and other information about a body in motion."
Now, he did what any good math teacher would do. He taught his students formulas, he gave them problems, and he made them practice. But, for good measure, and quite possibly good fun, he also let them play a game that uses parametric functions.
"What game would that be?" you might ask. And I would reply "Didn't you know Angry Birds is a perfect example of parametric functions in play?"
So, he made his class fun and interactive by having the students study and learn how parametric functions work and then required them to use their knowledge to play Angry Birds, a game most of them were already familiar with and enjoy.
This part of his class was a success.
And it made me think about how I might use something interactive like this in my own classroom. So, I did something that "John" suggested I do as a teacher. I went on twitter and I started following some of the teachers in my field, English, to see if they had any suggestions for how to use technology in an English classroom.
What I found was a wonderful source of teaching tools, plans, and general information (most of the tweeters aka "Tech-Savvy English Teachers" suggest technology to use, or suggest resources that are found through a technological medium such as a website, dropbox, blog etc.).
Here is what I found:
A new website. www.discoveryeducation.com (Wow, seriously, what a resource for lesson plans and ideas. Search for a piece of literature or browse the lesson plans. They've got objectives, detailed lesson plans, resources and extra resources. It's kind of beautiful)
A handy worksheet located in dropbox (which can be found here) on how to get students to figure out what a word means using context.
And a series of free video lectures (please go here) on how to use the ipad to improve/meliorate your teaching.
So what have I learned? Technology can be pretty darn helpful for teaching. I mean, look at all the resources I found and I was only trolling twitter for a matter of 15 minutes. Granted, it took me about an hour to suss through all the resources and pick out the relevant ones, but in the scheme of things that really isn't too long to spend.
What else? Technology can open up communities and discourse. Seeing John discuss how he used technology in his own classroom was inspiring, but not too helpful since I, as an English teacher, will never touch the subject of parametric functions.
However, his suggestion for using Twitter as a knowledge base is something I will continue to use to find resources and suggestions for teaching. It's the whole give a man a fish versus teach a man to fish argument.
Albeit, in my case, it's show a girl how to use angry birds versus teach a girl how to tweet and find tweets.
I suppose, however, any way you look at it I'm being shown the bird. :)