Students have varying learning styles and a teacher must embrace all the styles to be the most effective teacher. By using technology in the classroom, teachers can employ various resources and methods within a lesson, rather than teaching in one manner to all students.
As children move through the hierarchy of learning, their studies should progressively move towards developing higher order thinking skills, which leads to positive outcomes in student achievement. Technology can facilitate this process when integrated within an existing Math or Science curriculum.
Here are some practices of teachers who use technology to teach Math and Science in new and innovative ways to students at the elementary school level:
- Kelly Gary, who is a Grade 1 teacher at Sewickley Academy, makes her students complete a Math activity first thing in the morning. With the hands-on and attention grabbing tools like the interactive 100 chart, the SMART Board, and the Number SPLAT computer game, help children solve a number pattern activity, complete greater than and less than problems, and complete addition/subtraction facts. Kelly is of the view that the interactive charts makes learning these concepts more enjoyable for her students and inspires their learning. If a child needs more review, she utilizes the two computers in her classroom as a Math center and has the children work on the concepts a bit more. Kelly has also created addition/subtraction story problems for each day of the school year for students to solve on the SMART notebook. As the pictures are manipulated on the SMART Board, the children can see the Math problem come to life which helps them assess and analyze information and not merely memorize facts. She asks the children to tell a number story using addition/subtraction, she can insert a picture using the notebook gallery and focuses on techniques of problem solving. By saving the children’s Math stories on the computer, she has them solve each other’s Math problems on a later day for review. Kelly also has an Elmo in her classroom. This tool gives her the capability of having the students explain their lessons and how they obtained an answer and also enhances students' understanding of many Math concepts by learning from their peers.
- Judy Murphy, a Math department head at Burncoat Middle School, in Worcester, Massachusetts, takes her students to the computer lab every other week to use the Assessment system which is an online program that provides students with one-on-one tutorials. Teachers can tailor the program to fit specific curricula, and Murphy's students use it to practice the state's Math-assessment test questions. The program gives a review session whenever students answer a problem incorrectly, and afterward, it tests them on a similar question to gauge whether they've learned the material. For students who answer multiple questions correctly on the first try, the program may skip tutorials to move them on to a more challenging lesson. This technology tracks the different approaches students are taking and provides them with guidance. The most helpful aspect of the Assistment system is its ability to track the strengths and weaknesses of individual students and the class as a whole. Murphy acknowledges that she can now get a report that shows her how many students got a certain problem wrong, and she can now bring that back into her classroom and use that to guide her instruction. Being able to see how many students ask for help is key and it lets her zone in on what students really need help with.
- Lisa Buckshaw is Greece Central School District's assistant superintendent for student learning and accountability and Aimee Lyon is the district's elementary science mentor teacher. They share how Greece Central School District, the eighth largest school district in New York State, is committed to providing technology resources to all students, and strongly encourages all teachers to embed technology into their entire curriculum. In 2002, the school district adopted the Full Option Science System, FOSS that provides the district with a science program that matches state standards, promotes instructional practices consistent with district goals, and allows teachers to integrate technology and science instruction. To help teachers in their efforts to integrate technology and science, Greece provides students and teachers with a number of technology resources, using which Greece's teachers have found a number of creative and interesting ways to teach Science. A few examples are highlighted below:
- A first-grade teacher at English Village Elementary School found a unique way to integrate technology to enhance students' retention during the Balance and Motion module. She took pictures with a digital camera while students investigated balancing paper crayfish with clothespins. She then put the photographs into a PowerPoint slide show. Students recounted their experiments by flipping through the slide show; the teacher used the drawing tool to highlight ideas on the slides as students discussed and explained what they did. The activity set up students for success by reviewing previous learning before engaging in a new lesson.
- A second-grade teacher at Parkland Elementary School found that technology made her Insects module come to life. Her students used the flex cam, which allowed students to see greater detail to observe different insects. At each stage of metamorphosis, students took pictures with the Intel Play microscope and then printed them to create a timeline. The teacher worked with small groups of students to show them how the technology worked.
- A third-grade teacher at Buckman Heights Elementary used technology during the Earth Materials module. The results of evaporation were observed by students as a part of the module’s investigation. The teacher made students observe crystals with a hand lens. Then she magnified the crystals on the TV monitor using the flex cam. Through this technique, students were able to see the details very clearly. Students illustrated their observations, compared the results obtained with the two tools, and discussed what they saw and how it got there.
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