You can view the original posting here.
With high tech gadgetry becoming increasingly ubiquitous in the work and play of even our youngest students, it only makes sense that the presence of communications and production technology in the typical classroom should expand as well.
Whether you’re watching TV and Ellen Paige is proclaiming her amazement at an American class’s interaction with a class in Japan via Cisco’s newest classroom product, or you’re reading in an online article that schools in the Southern US are receiving millions in technology grants, or you’re debating with your child’s PTA about the best way to raise money for new classroom computers — it seems that folks everywhere are talking about how teachers and students use technology.
On social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, the English Companion Ning, and We Are Teachers, all sorts of educators from novices to the most seasoned literature professors are chatting about how to use technology effectively in the classroom. At the recent National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Convention in Philly, I was lucky enough to meet with a group of English Companion Ning teachers who had come together “IRL” (in real life) to talk about the best ways support new teachers using their social networking site.
Over the past few years, even the most traditional classrooms have become high tech. Teachers have always been leaders in the technology revolution and are now even more so the forerunners in exposing their students to new and creative ways of learning. Even with severe budget cuts during the past few years’ economic decline, teachers have become more ingenuitive in their approach to helping students learn.
It’s no secret that the current generation of students was born into a world far more technologically advanced than were their parents or most of their teachers. Kids crave interactivity and respond well to technology that allows them to form friendships all over the world and maintain a level of contact that used to be reserved for next-door neighbors. Kids no longer only read books or watch movies; they interact with authors, actors, and producers. They not only consume the news, they text, tweet, and e-mail their opinions and actually help to shape the news.
Just as passivity is passé in the “outside world,” so too has the sun set on the day of “drill and kill” and the passive “lecture-listen lesson.” With products like SMARTBoard™, traditional presentations that require kids to do nothing but sit like sponges and soak it all in are transformed into opportunities for students to manipulate information—drag punctuation into place, rearrange sentences, reveal answers—and forge their own knowledge.
Kids who would otherwise need to review a lesson multiple times to retain information gain a whole new level of engagement with tools that allow (and even encourage) group learning; the presentation creates a center of focus and prompts students to think together and complete exercises together. When they’re not actively working with the board, students benefit by watching, critiquing, and correcting the process as it happens.
In our visual, point-and-click culture, high-tech teaching tools capture attention, create a tactile engagement from abstract material, and encourage involvement. In short, new, interactive presentation software and hardware turn ideas nto substance. tudents are motivated to participate, changed from audience into learners.Teaching is translated too, as every lesson and assessment you write can be infinitely customized to suit your and your students’ preferences. Your only limit is your own imagination, and so much of the software and resources available on the web are absolutely free for the taking!
Free sites like Quizlet offer teachers an assortment of interactive activities for students to learn vocabulary through practice tests and games. Free software like Adobe Acrobat and PowerPoint allow teachers to use either self-created presentations or title-specific materials from companies like Prestwick House. Teachers can enhance and drive home vocabulary or grammar lessons, enhance writing and editing skills, or pique student interest in a new book. Freedom and versatility are the keys.
Whether your tool of choice is a downloadable PDF version of your favorite teaching guide, an enhanced presentation, or an ebook for your Kindle, never has there been such a vast array of materials and strategies available at such low cost and such high convenience.
Annie Rizzuto is a copywriter and social networking advocate for Prestwick House Publishing in Smyrna, DE. A recent graduate of University of Delaware’s Business and Technical Writing program, Annie is thrilled to be part of a company with a focus on helping English teachers. Read more of her writing at www.prestwickhouse.blogspot.com.