The past week in my DEL master’s program our cohort was focusing on ISTE Student Standard 1- Empowered Learner. It states, “Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences”. This standard requires students to take an active role in first achieving competency in the learning goals and second demonstrating their competency in the goals.
ISTE got this one right, students choosing how to show their understanding of the learning goals and moreover choosing to use technology to do so empowers student to take ownership of their learning. So, I began to think what does/ would this look like in 3rd grade. Am I as their teacher allowing them choices in how to demonstrate their understanding of the learning goals and do students know how to use the technologies I am providing? Moreover, am I empowering them to use the technologies?
I began thinking about where I offer choice (whether or not there is technology involved or not). Below I listed areas in which I offer choice in my classroom:
- Choice on what books they are reading
- Choice on what strategies/ goals to apply to their reading
- Read on computers or from physical books
- Choice on what topics they can write about
- Choice on what strategies/ goals to apply to their writing
- Choice of what paper to use
- Choice on which level they want to practice individual math at (regular or challenge)
- Choice of math project, within a standard they have a menu of choices to choose from for their math project
- Choice on which math games to play during math rotations
Social Studies/ Science:
- Choice on which expert groups they are most interested in
- Flexible seating
This led me to my next thought: Are there any places where I could provide more choice specifically with an emphasis on places I could leverage technology? This wondering led me to develop the following research questions for module 1: How are other primary and/or intermediate teachers supporting students to leverage technology in their classrooms to show understanding of their learning? Is there any research or data that have been done on these technologies effects on student learning or engagement? The question focuses on ISTE indicator 1c which states, “Students use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.”
My hope was that by finding out what technologies teachers are leveraging and moreover if they were backed by research I could possibly integrate them into my classroom. Many times I feel like I hear or try a new or great technology (EPIC, kahoot, paddlet, flip grid, etc). However, I do not feel that I have tapped into these technologies full potential. To be used effectively and meaningfully by students they require lots of structure and feedback from me as an instructor. Especially with my 8 and 9-year-old tech newbies.
When beginning my research I ran into some difficulty. Partly due to my lack of research abilities, but ultimately because I wasn’t able to find a comprehensive list of current technologies teachers or students were using in a primary or intermediate setting that were backed by research. I think that if I were to research again I would make a list of technologies I know or have read that teachers had found meaningful in their classroom and then narrowed my research to finding data on them individually.
Nevertheless, I did find an interesting research article that answered my question with very broad categories. The articleThe Teacher Technology Integration Experience: Practice and Reflection in the Classroom answers the question: “What technology do teachers use and how do they use that technology to facilitate student learning?” The researchers Dana Ruggiero, Christofer Mong, and their team surveyed 1048 in-service teachers from across a Midwestern state in the United States. 48% of teachers were primary teachers. The researchers used online and in person surveys to answer their questions. In their research, Dana and Christopher found the following technology tools used in teachers classrooms:
The study was done in 2014 so is five years dated. Keeping that in mind I found some of the results interesting. Specifically, that online discussions had the highest percentage of “never used” answers out of all technology tools. Another was that powerpoint was used by most participants. As a 3rd-grade teacher powerpoint doesn’t stand out as a technology that I would use most often. Lastly, Dana, Christopher, and their team found one pattern which emerged was that “elementary teachers are more likely to rate interactive technology tools as ‘used most often’. I found this to be true in my own teaching as well.
Another powerful outcome of the research was the work the research team did to identify potential themes regarding in-service teacher views on pedagogical principles and technology integrations that emerged from the data. The four themes that emerged were:
- Defining technology integration as a process
- Design as a tool of technology
- Use of technology in the primary, middle, and secondary classroom is seen as pervasive
- Value of technology integration in the classroom is constantly changing
The first theme participants described technology integration as a process. Meaning, for example, the teacher creates schedules, schema, and frameworks to utilize technology in an efficient way and/ or integrates technology in natural ways to meet learning goals. This theme stood out to me because I similarly want to make sure the technology I am teaching and offering fits naturally with our learning goals. Thus, I know I need to make sure when integrating technologies I choose one that would naturally be a good fit to meet our learning objective.
The last point that I want to point out was that the research found that many teachers are still struggling to achieve meaningful technology integration within their classrooms and suggest that, “we should be exploiting the same technology tools for professional development that teachers use a daily basis. Authentic and current professional development for teachers should use blended learning, collaborative learning, and engage in the challenges of the current context.” I appreciated the research acknowledging the need to help teachers find ways to leverage meaningful technology in their classrooms.
This leads me to my final thoughts. Although the article did not spark any specific ideas of technology integration that I could take into my classroom. It did validate the steps I should take next:
1. I need to find specific technology tools that I would naturally integrate into our class.
2. I should research what technologies may best meet my students’ needs.
3. Once I have researched or found a tech tool I should reach out to others who have used the technologies to learn how I can best implement it in my classroom.
My next steps believe I could leverage technology meaningfully is writing. I have many students who are highly motivated to write on the computer or who could benefit from speech to text or other scaffolds or modifications that may be available. My students have 1:1 chrome books beginning in 3rd grade in Shoreline. In K-2 they have access to shared i-pads and a computer lab. I’ve taught my students how to use google docs to type or voice type their published writing. However, I have found that many students writing quality diminish when typing on the computer. In my experience, this is due to getting distracted or not being able to fluently type or speak effectively to use the speech to text tool. Their ability does improve with more practice but I’ve found that my third graders are more efficient and produce better quality writing when handwriting it. Handwriting also free’s me up to conference with students providing them feedback about writing rather than spending time explaining and answering questions about formatting. Lastly, I wonder what brain research shows is developmentally appropriate specifically handwriting vs. typing or other assistive technologies.
Link to research article: http://jite.informingscience.org/documents/Vol14/JITEv14ResearchP161-178Ruggiero0958.pdf
Ruggiero, D., & Mong, C. J. (2015). The Teacher Technology Integration Experience: Practice and Reflection in the Classroom. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 14, 161-178. doi:10.28945/2227