One of my favorite commercials is one for Walmart where a father surprises his teenage daughter with her own cell phone. In her euphoric state, she excitedly hugs her father and announces to him that she will now be able to “pin, post, tweet, snap, tag, check, and share.” In a nutshell, she provided a summary of the many things that students today can readily do via technology.
Did you know that students ages 12 to 24 will spend more than four hours a day viewing media, not including games? Eighty-two percent of seventh- to twelfth-graders even “media multitask” while simultaneously doing homework. I, on the other hand, am a “digital immigrant” and though I was late to learn to google, my children now call me the google queen. I search Google for everything. Technological advances have revolutionized all aspect of our lives, including how educators teach and students learn. Technological literacy is crucial and one of the five competencies that high school students should be proficient with if they are to be successful in the work world.
This strategy will deal with the amazing and engaging impact that can be made on a lesson when technology is integrated. However, the longer I am around today’s students, the more convinced I am that the strategy of technology should be considered only one of 20, and needs to be balanced with the other 19. A combination of strategies helps to foster the interpersonal skills that are essential for meaningful personal and professional relationships in the real world. Too many students are so caught up in text messaging that they have lost the art of true interpersonal communication.
What The Research Says
Students become excited and challenged to find answers to problems and create unique ways of presenting information when they are allowed to use their gadgets at appropriate times (Gregory & Chapman, 2013).
Higher achievement and greater understanding in math is achieved when technology is used for non-routine applications and not for routine calculations (Sousa, 2007).
Technology is not an end unto itself but should be used to enrich, enhance, and present content in a more efficient manner (Sousa, 2011).
Make It Happen
- Involve students in content with the use of a SMART or Promethean board. These technological presentation devices enable the teacher to access the Internet and display it to the entire class as well as show the class other computer programs of interest. The SMART board can also be used to display regular writing when done with the special markers provided.
- Have students use the process of digital storytelling in integrating technology. Have them take photographs or create illustrations that represent either the main idea and details of informational text or the elements of a narrative story. Import these photographs or illustrations in a digital storytelling tool such as iMovie, Movie Maker, or Photo Story. Add narration. Use this activity to motivate struggling writers or ESL students (McLaughlin & Overturf, 2013).
- Have students access websites, such as Newsela, which allow them to explore news stories at a variety of reading levels and take differentiated quizzes on the stories. Fisher (2013) refers to this instructional strategy as digital differentiation. The website Wordle enables teachers to create tag clouds of different news stories. This allows students to compare and contrast the treatment of the same news stories by different news agencies. A service called Newspapermap will compare news stories from the United States with those from around the world (Fisher, 2013).
For more examples of instructional activities that engage students using technology, consult the 3rd edition of my best-selling book, Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites.