Using Technology in the Classroom. Teaching and Projects

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1 Using Technology in the Classroom Teaching and Projects

2 EdTechTeacher Technology Projects Technology affords social studies teachers exciting opportunities to develop innovative, project-based learning experiences. Creating and publishing multimedia work allows students to both deepen and demonstrate their understanding of historical content and the historian s way of thinking. A recently edited volume produced by social studies education researchers, Technology in Retrospect: Social Studies in the Information Age, , demonstrates that for decades, educators have used emerging technologies to develop new strategies for enriching the social studies curriculum. This study provides a vision for a technology-rich future for the social studies that empowers students to connect directly with the source material of history and produce their own interpretations of the past. To support these emerging models of teaching and learning, the McGraw- Hill networks program is supported by technology-based projects produced in collaboration with EdTechTeacher (edtechteacher.org). EdTechTeacher technology projects provide detailed instructions and inspiration to help social studies teachers creatively and effectively integrate technology in their classrooms. In the online Teacher Edition, you will find a technologybased project for each unit (at the elementary grade levels) or chapter (at the secondary grade levels). Each technology project explains the rationale for using the suggested technology and provides guidelines for classroom teachers to help conduct and facilitate the activity. The technology projects also provide links to Web pages on the EdTechTeacher site, Teaching History with Technology (thwt.org), which features up-to-date tutorials and links to education technology tools and services. In the pages that follow, we offer several theoretical frameworks and practical considerations to help you make the most of these technology projects.

3 Why Teach with Technology? 1) Technology is transforming the practice of historians and should transform history classrooms as well. While printed documents, books, maps, and artwork constitute the bulk of the historical record before 1900, the history of the last century is also captured in sound and video recordings and in Web sites and other Internet resources. Today s students need to learn how to analyze and build arguments using these multimedia records in addition to traditional primary sources. 2) Many of the sources that helped historians and history teachers fall in love with the discipline are now available online. In recent decades, universities, libraries, archives, and other institutions have scanned and uploaded vast treasure troves of historical sources. In the United States, for instance, the Library of Congress (loc.gov) and the National Archives and Records Administration (archives.gov) have digitized millions of documents and abstracts and continue to do so at a blistering pace. Google Books has digitized millions of books in the public domain (books.google. com). Today s students have unparalleled access to the world s historical record from any Internet connection, providing them with an opportunity to develop historical skills as well as engage with multiple historical narratives. 3) Whoever is doing most of the talking or most of the typing is doing most of the learning, and the more people listening the better. Technology allows us to transfer the responsibility for learning from teachers to students, and to put students in the driver s seat of their own learning. Students who are actively engaged in creating and presenting their understandings of history are learning more than students who are passively listening. Technology also allows students to publish their work to broader audiences of peers, parents, and even the entire Internet world. Students find these opportunities challenging, exciting, and engaging. 4) The more ways students have to engage with content, the more likely they are to remember and understand that content. One of the central insights of cognitive science from recent decades is that different students have different capacities to access content through different learning pathways. Even more importantly, all students benefit from the ability to access content in different ways. Many educators are increasingly familiar with the Universal Design for Learning framework (udlcenter.org), a set of principles to follow to make information accessible to all learners. The Internet can provide students and teachers with access to text documents, images, sounds and songs, videos, simulations, and games. These diverse resources provide for a variety of ways for students to access, engage with, and retain information. 5) Students live in a technology-rich world, and classrooms should prepare students for those worlds. Henry Jenkins, principal investigator of the New Media Literacies project at the University of Southern California, has compellingly described contemporary youth culture as a participatory culture. Young people in America spend most of their waking hours connected to a worldwide, online network of people, resources, and opportunities. They expect to solve problems in their daily lives by drawing on these networked resources, and they expect and experience very low barriers to artistic expression they frequently share their thoughts, ideas, and creative work online through social networks and video sharing sites. These same students experience dissonance and disappointment upon entering a powered down school, where we ask them to sit in individual seats and work without resources to complete information retrieval tasks on worksheets that will only be viewed by one pair of eyes, the teacher s. This turn-it-in culture of schools feels quite jarring to youth who live the rest of their lives in a participatory culture. Drawing on networked technologies in the social studies classroom allows teachers to tap into the experience and engagement that students experience in the rest of their lives. Our students will leave school to go on to workplaces and civic arenas completely transformed by technology, and teachers have a responsibility to prepare students for these environments. 1

4 Integrating Technology Effec tively Ben Shneiderman, in his book Leonardo s Laptop, lays out a four-part framework for teaching with technology: Collect-Relate-Create-Donate. This framework is a helpful blueprint for designing projects and learning experiences with technology. Collect Students should begin a project by collecting the resources necessary to produce a meaningful presentation of their understanding. In some cases, students might collect these resources through textbook reading and teacher lecture, but students should also collect resources from online collections and archives, information pathfinders created by teachers or librarians, and online searches. Relate Technology greatly facilitates the process of students working together socially, and the ability to collaborate is essential to the work place and civic sphere of the future. In creating technology projects, students should have the chance to work together, or at least comment on each other s work, using blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other collaborative publishing tools. Create Using multimedia publishing tools, students should have a chance to design presentations and performances to showcase what they are learning in social studies. In addition to making historical arguments in linear text, they should also do so by using images, audio and video recordings, and multimedia presentations. Donate Finally, students should create work not just for their teachers but for broader audiences as well. Students who have a chance to share their work with their peers, their families, their community, and the Internet-connected world find that opportunity to be rewarding. Today s students experience very few barriers to expression in their networked lives, and they expect to have these opportunities in school as well. 2 Guidelines for Successful Technology Projec ts 1) Plan for problems. Things can go wrong when working with technology, and learning how to deal with these challenges is essential for both students and teachers. As you start using technology in the classroom, try to have an extra teacher, aide, student-teacher, or IT staff member in the room with you to help troubleshoot problems. When things do go wrong, stay calm and ask your students to help you resolve issues. Always have a back up pencil and paper activity prepared in case there are problems with computers or networks. Over time, teachers who practice teaching with technology experience fewer and fewer of these problems, but they can be very challenging the first few times you experience them! 2) Practice from multiple perspectives. Whenever you develop a technology project, try to do everything that students will do from a student s perspective. If you create a blog or wiki with a teacher account, create a student account to test the technology. 3) Adapt to your local technology resources, but don t let those resources keep you from using technology. Some schools have excellent and ample technology resources labs and laptop carts that make completing technology projects straightforward. Other schools have fewer resources, but virtually every student can get access to a networked computer in school, at the library, or at home, especially if you give them a few nights to do so. Many technology activities are described as if you could complete them in a few class periods, but if resources are limited, you might consider spreading the activity out over a few periods or even a few weeks to give students the chance to get online. 4) Plan with a partner. Going it alone can be scary. If possible, have another teacher in your department or team design and pilot technology projects with you to help solve the challenges that crop up whenever trying out new pedagogies.

5 5) It may be difficult at first, then it gets easier. Learning new teaching strategies is always hard. With technology, however, once you get past the initial learning curve there are all sorts of ways technology can make teaching more efficient while simultaneously making learning more meaningful for students. Learn More about Teaching History with Technology EdTechTeacher has several Web sites designed to help social studies and history teachers learn more about teaching with technology. The Best of History Web Sites (besthistorysites. net) is the Internet s authoritative directory of history related resources, Web sites, games, simulations, lesson plans, and activities. Teaching History with Technology (thwt.org) has a series of white papers, tutorials and guides for enriching history teaching strategies (lecturing, discussion, presentations, assessments, and so forth) with education technology. EdTechTeacher (edtechteacher.org) has additional teaching resources and information about other learning opportunities, such as free webinars and other professional development workshops. EdTechTeacher is run by Justin Reich and Tom Daccord, the co-authors of Best Ideas for Teaching with Technology, A Practical Guide for Teachers, by Teachers. R e f e r e n c e s Diem, R., & Berson, M. (Eds.). (2010). Technology in retrospect: Social studies in the information age Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. Reich, J., & Daccord, T. (2008). Best ideas for teaching with technology : A practical guide for teachers, by teachers. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe. Shneiderman, B. (2002). Leonardo s laptop : Human needs and the new computing technologies. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. 3

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