Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Technology Integration in Lesson Planning

Last week, a website that showed four different examples of excellent teachers integrating technology into their classrooms. To recap, the following link will take you to these examples.

Classrooms at Work

This week, I took some time to re-look at these lesson plans, and analyze my own experiences of integrating technology into my classroom.One of the main reasons why I decided to go back to school and get my Master's in Integrating Technology is due to my desire to learn more! I've realized that this world has some new technology source come out on a regular basis. Software seems to be created on a daily basis and hardware on a monthly basis. The funniest thing I ever heard was from the Best Buy salesman. He informed me that my computer was now officially outdated the minute I bought it! Technology is the future, so I need and want to learn more to survive!

My hopes are to take examples such as the teachers in the link above and provide my students with a memorable learning experience. Of course, every teacher wants the "lightbulbs" to click on with students, but I also want to go beyond by giving them a great learning tool. The example I liked the most from the Classrooms at Work link was the 8th grade Wild Ride. This project idea really integrated three completely different subject areas and kept the student completely actively engaged in a project-based learning experience. After reading about this project, I started to think of ways that I could integrate with my own teammates.

Project Wild is successful for a multitude of reasons:
1. The teachers involved really took the time to collaborate. Each teacher still was able to teach the students the required standards that their subjects required, but still able to find common ground with this project.
2. It was organized with a daily calendar.
3. It took a highly interesting topic such as Roller Coasters. Kids love them! So, it made it even easier since the students were so interested.
4. They created a system with the "Roller Coaster RedBook" that kept the students organized and allowed them to reflect on daily tasks.
5. Cooperating Learning - Each student was given a job.
6. Project Wild integrated technology in a purposefully way - it wasn't just there to allow the teachers time to work and not teach.
The reasons are endless, but the key is the time the teachers put in to collaborate and work together. Because of their hard work, the students truly had a great learning experience.

My goal that I have to with using technology is fairly similar to the example above. I would like to integrate technology with purpose. Over the last few years of my teaching career, I've become much more technology educated, but I'm just starting to really integrate it into lesson plans with much more purpose and meaning. Project Wild is a perfect example of a way to integrate technology as well as other subjects. I would love to do the same with my own colleagues.

Being that I'm a science teacher, I definitely understand the purpose to the "science" side of Project.Wild. Although, I don't teach Newton's Laws, this project has given me some ideas for the human body. In fact, my team and I are trying a little "integration day" for Valentine's Day to be "Heart Day." For one day, each teacher on the team will have lessons that coincide with the Circulatory System. Since this is just a one day integration, only one of the teachers plans to do integrate any technology with some research on the history behind Valentine's Day. However, each of the other teachers plan to do some great hands on activities. As a way to tie each of classes together, the students will complete a reflection sheet in the form of a heart with the four chambers as their four classes. See below for the example:

 Pathway through Heart Reflection Sheet

Just like Project Wild's 8th grade teachers, I have the luxury to work with a team of teachers. Although we do not block, it is still possible for us to create some integration among our topics. It just has to be in smaller doses. As I investigated this website, I definitely explored the 8th grade lesson the most, but I really enjoyed reading about the 9th grade lesson as well. Since I don't always get the opportunity to collaborate with other teachers, I would like to explore ways for my students to share their work with classmates from other classes.  I've used technology is a multiple of ways for science projects, but I've never explored ways for the students to share their work with people that are not in their actual science classes. The Global Challenge lesson plan provided a great example.

The the past few months, I've really learned a variety of ways to make technology much more purposeful. The best aspect is how much my students really enjoy learning with technology. The students are always actively engaged and really thrive on hands on experiences with technology. Due to this new found appreciation for technology, I'm definitely looking at ways to improve my teaching. In fact, next year, I plan to have a blog for my students to use for their homework assignments, and I'm working on creating forms on Google Docs as an option for students that prefer to use computers over worksheets. :)

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