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Every Student, Every Day


QTL News & Stories


Top Tips on Using Classroom Technology
February 2009

One of the strongest arguments for the use of technology in the classroom comes from teachers who not only embrace the notion, but consistently use it in everyday instruction.

CHARLES CITY, VA - Charles City County Schools Instructional Technology Resource Teacher Jennifer Richardson says there are a few things everyone needs to keep in mind to enhance student learning.

charles cityAll of Charles City teachers have learned more about integrating technology with proven teaching strategies while participating in QTL programs.

"First, you have to embrace the notion that the kids we are teaching today are not the same as when we were in school," says Richardson.

"Just this morning, I worked with a teacher on a lesson plan. The teacher does the lesson plan and she comes to me to brainstorm ideas for how we can make the lesson come to life for the students," she says. The two discussed using technology as a tool.

The result was a plan that incorporated technology stations into a lesson built around the children's book Stellaluna. The book is about a bat who becomes lost from her mother and grows up not knowing what she is. The story is used as a hook to teach students about bats and about relationships, and to integrate that learning across content areas.

"The teacher planned the lesson and wrote the lesson plan and came to me to integrate technology into the lesson," says Richardson. The important part, she says, is that the TEACHER does the lesson plan. The teacher makes sure the lesson is aligned with the Standards of Learning (Virginia's state standards) and the lesson is aligned with her classroom.

Three Great Ways to Increase Student Engagement

  1. Make sure the lesson is rooted in content first.
  2. Brainstorm and work with your technology integrtion teacher (could be a media specialist) to find new ways to make the lesson come alive using technology
  3. Don't reinvent the wheel. There are lots of resources already developed and available online

Some educators make the mistake of doing it the other way around. Richardson says the content has to come first. Technology is just a tool used to deliver that content in a way that interests students.

Richardson's district has invested heavily in whiteboards, and she is in charge of making sure teachers know how to use them with the purpose of engaging students rather than just lecturing.

"At first, it's about setting up the boards and getting them to work," she says. "But after that, the kids are really drawn to the board. They love to touch it and work with it. The trick is to make sure that the lessons are rich with content."

As Richardson says, "We have to tap into the world of our students to level the playing field. Success depends on the consistent and appropriate use of technology in the classroom that challenges our students."

There are several online resources for Stellaluna lessons, such as WEBQUESTS you can access and use for ideas. Here are just a couple of examples:

  • Texas Tech Teacher Learning and Technology Center, 2001.
    Retrieved on February 11, 2009.
  • San Diego City Schools, 1999.
    Retrieved on February 11, 2009.

One thing to keep in mind when choosing an WEBQUEST: WEBQUESTS work toward the higher Bloom's Taxonomy Skills and promote critical thinking skills as well as other 21st Century Learning Skills.

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