Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Teaching "Teaching with Technology"

Today's class opened with an activity that made me think (as should all activities posed to us by our teachers).  What would an ideal classroom look like?  Well, I would want all students to be engaged but what does that actually look like?  Some people drew pictures of chairs set up in a circular fashion, while others focused on the placement of a teacher's desk or a projector.  I chose to focus on where to place myself amongst my students and how the technology in the room could increase student involvement and interaction with course material.

In terms of technology, which was to be a focus of the activity, I chose to incorporate smart boards into the tables where students sat.  The boards would make up the surface of the table and students could use markers to work out problems and write ideas.  The best part about these tables would be that students' work could then be projected from the tables to the board.  I was told that smart boards were actually first designed to be used more as tables, but when teachers voiced concern over student-use the boards where then made to be hung on a wall like a traditional white board.

This raises an important question:  how can we innovate classroom learning through technology if improvements rely on traditional teaching methods?   I believe this relates to the Cuban article in the sense that we are living in an ever-changing society, but we are still tied to traditional methods of human interaction.  It is important to note that if students are using technology at their tables to learn, the teaching profession may become increasingly obsolete.  This seems to be a recurring theme of teacher attitudes towards technology over the past century.   I am having a hard time working through this balance of technology and traditional interactions within a classroom.  I am hoping this course will help me strike a balance so that I can become an effective and forward thinking educator.

My "ideal" classroom


  1. Rachael,
    I like that you included smart boards at each of the students' tables. I was struck too when we were told that they were originally designed for student and teacher usage. Along those same lines, I appreciate that you placed yourself among your students in the classroom. It is a very new idea for me to not have the teacher be the front and center of the students' learning experience. I look forward to piecing through these questions of technology and teaching with you!

  2. Rachael,

    I also struggle with the questions of how to implement technology while continuing traditional teaching methods. I think it's a very difficult balance to understand and implement within a classroom. However, reading through your idea of having smart boards at the desk started to make me think more about this. I understand the argument that having the smart boards at the desks could be a distraction, but reading your post also made me start to think that perhaps these could work to eliminate distractions. For example, with these on the desks there could be an elimination in the amount of papers and textbooks that are on a student's desk. From personal experience in high school, I remember the desks being really tiny and having to basically stack everything I needed for the lesson all piled on top of one another (or even in my lap) and then having to shuffle through all of it as we went on with the lesson - maybe the smart boards at the desk would be able to help get rid of this messy shuffling? It's difficult to understand the balance between these tools being a distraction or helping to eliminate the distraction. I'm looking forward to discussing this more in class to help us expand our knowledge on both sides of this balancing act, and then being able to decide which tools work best for us.

  3. Your posting has elicited some interesting and provocative responses, Rachael. I'm eager to have you see what Rory has done in his teaching using an IPad and a software program called Doceri to capture much of the functionality of a smart board in a much more versatile manner, one that could potentially bear a LOT of similarity to some of what you describe in your posting. I think that we need to take very seriously the charge to equip our students to work collaboratively both comfortably and well, and I think that learning technologies have a substantive part to play here.

  4. Rachael! I like the idea of incorporating smart boards into the desks for groups. Another helpful feature about smart boards (if I remember correctly) is the ability to save the work done on the smart boards to a computer. This way, you could have groups work on the boards, present their information, and you could also save a copy for further assessment. Probably by this point in the course, you have a better idea of how to balance the use of technology and traditional interactions in the classroom. I think it's good to remember that we as educators are important for the guiding process of the students, and that technology is used only as a tool for learning. I don't think that students will be able to learn effectively by giving them a computer and telling them to learn science or math. I believe that students will always need the guidance and support of a teacher in order to maximize their learning.