Technology in the Classroom

Chuck Tryon is revamping his Technology in the Language Arts course and I left a long comment on his blog about what we do.  Here’s a slightly more organized and extended version of that:

  • Google Apps for Education: we have this installed and teachers have taken advantage of it in many ways
    • Google Docs: Teachers have used this for collaborative projects as well as suggested it for an easy way to go from school to home. There’s no emailing a paper, saving it to a flash drive, and ultimately having it get lost. Teachers have also used the presentation tool, and, to a lesser extent, the spreadsheets, though I have students use them to create surveys.
    • Sites: I teach students to make a website using Google sites in 6th grade.  This year, the 8th grade social studies classes created online newspapers for states just after the Revolution.
    • Blogger: I have one teacher using this and another considering it.  An art history teacher is posting images and having students comment on it, discussing the art work’s attributes.
    • Groups: This is being used by clubs and classes as a way to get out documents and announcements.
    • Video/YouTube: always popular, and a few teachers use it to post student work
  • Video: speaking of video, we use it a lot.  Using Flip video cameras, students create videos about literature and/or history as well as personal topics.  Often they incorporate photos.  We have access to both Windows Movie maker and iMovie.  Students often use what they have access to at home, though our biggest issue is going back and forth between home and school to work on these projects.
  • Animation: related to video, we’ve used GoAnimate and DoInk for animation.  GoAnimate is better for people-based animations while DoInk is better for animating things like physics or biology, perhaps even math.  You can draw whatever you want in DoInk while GoAnimate provides characters.
  • Presentations: I mentioned Google’s presentation tool, which is really an online version of PowerPoint, which many students still use.  But we use Prezi an awful lot.  Students like it a lot more and teachers use it to teach structure–of poems and stories, but also of student work–which can be illustrated better via Prezi.  A story is not always linear like PowerPoint.
  • Audio: I teach podcasts in 7th grade and a colleague of mine runs an after-school program that uses podcasts.  Audio in the form of narration often gets incorporated into video projects and/or presentations.
  • Other tools.  I teach Scratch and it’s been used a couple of times in other classes, and I have a teacher who’s doing a project in a couple of weeks that has students create an animation using Scratch followed by an interactive quiz.  We also have teachers considering things like Twitter (having a historical figure “tweet” the events of his/her life).  Teachers also use print-based things like newsletters and brochures created with Publisher or comic strips for languages.  And we’re exploring the use of iPads and other mobile devices, including cell phones.  Things are always changing and we’re always trying to find ways to essentially teach both a concept within a discipline and the use of technology.
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