Upon reflecting on this course, I can say without a doubt that using technology will make your students more successful across the content areas. From the start, I was able to use my own lesson plans, integrate technology and improve the results for my students. Using different types of technology, from internet research to digital movie making, students can create products that connect history to problems we face today.
It was an excellent choice to start the course by learning what authentic instruction is and how to integrate technology into this instruction. One must always keep in mind that you do not create a lesson for the use of technology, rather you incorporate technology into the lessons already planned to meet standards. It is most important for a teacher to have their students meet state, national, and local standards and using technology can help the students learn through collaboration and using 21st century skills.
According to Cennamo, Ross and Ertmer, when using a PBL, “students are challenged to learn by working cooperatively to find solutions to real-life problems. Curiosity and interest in the process occurs naturally as students work in virtual and face-to-face teams to solve authentic dilemmas” (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer. 2009 p. 42). As an example of authentic instruction, I used a lesson I designed on the Versailles Treaty. Using my lesson on the Versailles Treaty, my students work in teams, they research by using computers , the internet and databases. However, the heart of the lesson is a debate/role-play/simulation in class of the peace conference of 1919, for which no technology is used. This plan is an example of where a teacher integrates technology into a lesson that meets state standards, rather than writing a plan for using technology. In the Versailles Treaty plan, technology is used only as a research aid and not the core of the plan.
I have been modifying my older plans to include touches of technology to make it easier on the students to work with and easier for me to grade. If all my students do is use the internet for research, making sure they are using valid sites, it is making them work more swiftly and having more fun as they work in teams. According to the text, “digital historical libraries and archives is changing the way teachers and students can access learning materials” (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009 p. 291). I can remember having twenty to thirty history books on my desk with a dictionary and a thesaurus while writing my papers out on loose leaf and then making all the editing and corrections before typing those papers up to turn in for a grade. My students, get to type their thoughts as they work, use spell check for the correct spelling, click on the thesaurus for other ideas on terminology, and have a clean desk since their research was done online. As a teacher it is also easier not to carry around sixty essays at a time, students can post their research to the class blog or to the wiki, either way it makes for much less paper work but still provides authentic lessons for my students.
Using technology to help my diverse learners has been wonderful. According to Ross, Universal Design for Learning (UDL) was created by the Center for Applied Special Technologies (CAST), with the aim to improve the education for all students through using Universal Design for Learning (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010c). According to Cennamo, et al., Universal Design for Learning “suggest that teachers can remove barriers to learning by providing flexibility in terms of options for materials, methods, and assessments” (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009, p. 117). My youngest son has dysgraphia and he has been able to stay abreast of his schoolwork by using the computer to help him write and spell. With my own students who are English language learners (ELL), having the computer with translators and image searches has helped them stay abreast with the rest of the class on the majority of lessons. With some lessons these student still need extra time and extra help to complete, especially when writing academic style papers.
As a history teacher, I use many forms of assessment, including having students write academic papers. Some of these assessments are used with a technology base others with very little technology, other than word processing. In our text, Cennamo, Ross and Ertmer, describe four basic forms of assessment. The first of these assessment styles is the “force-option format” (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009 p. 143) which is a multiple choice test taken with the use of a computerized answer sheet that can analyze the results for the teacher. I use this type of assessment at the end of each chapter. Then there is the open-ended response formats (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009 p. 145), which are essays of various lengths. Then the third form of assessment is performance-based assessments which according to the text are “are possible in all content areas but may most easily be exemplified by domains that require oral communication skills or the development of psychomotor skills in conjunction with other content knowledge” ((Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009 p. 146). Finally, the fourth type of assessment and the one most easily edited to include technology is the project-based assessments. According to the text, “project-based learning typically results in some type of product, perhaps a web page or a multimedia presentation, and it may or may not include some type of performance, such as an oral report of class presentation using the products students have created” (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009 p. 148). Each type of assessment described can use some type of technology infusion. However, some assessments lend themselves to more adaptable to technology than others.
This course began with authentic instruction and ends with problem-based learning. Problem-based learning, lends itself for the infusion of technology however, there can be problems for teachers developing authentic problem-based learning activities. Among the challenges that Ertmer discussed are “finding a good problem, locating appropriate resources, turning over control of the classroom to the students, deciding how to group students, making sure that students are learning content, and assessing student learning” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010d). Simultaneously, students learn so much more by doing. They will do the research, write the scripts, film themselves, interview others, make connections between the past and the present, and so much more. With certain activities, students will be able to collaborate with other students from their school, state, country, and around the world by using educational networking with sites such as Edmodo.
Technology aids a student in their research and writing, prepares them with 21st century skills, allows them to collaborate, and allows them to develop a finished product on their own. Technology enhances the classroom lessons and enables for deeper and more creative research and presentations. According to the project, students will write, research, film, make costumes, execute make-up, and work with green screens and many other things that cross the content areas. Would it not be a good idea to have students complete a senior year project that incorporates all of these aspects? The English teacher can grade the written portions, the History teacher will concentrate on the research and the conclusions derived from the research, the Technology teacher will grade based on the techniques the students used in producing the product, the Art and Sewing teachers will review costuming, make-up and backdrops. I believe this would be a terrific across the content areas assignment, for students to end their high school career.
Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. (Laureate Education, Inc., Custom ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010a). Program 1. Part 1 – Spotlight on Technology: Digital Storytelling. Integrating technology across the content areas [DVD]. United States
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010b). Program 2. Promoting Creative Thinking with Technology. Integrating technology across the content areas [DVD]. United States
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010c). Program 5. Meeting students’ needs with technology – Part 1. Integrating technology across the content areas [DVD]. United States
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010d). Program 9. Spotlight on Technology: Problem- Based Learning, Part 2 [DVD]. Integrating technology across the content areas. Baltimore, MD