How Is Technology Transforming Teaching & Classrooms? | Learning Upgrade: Technology in Iowa Schools


So education technology has always been around
since the beginning of schooling in the U.S., we had paper, pencils, slates, but what has
really changed over the last two decades has been that we have moved from kind of a whole
group instruction with technology where technology was really supplementing what was already
happening in the classroom and now what we’re seeing are classrooms where there is this
idea of personalizing and individualizing instruction through technology. We also don’t necessarily see the students
doing the same things on their devices anymore. Students could be using the same piece of
software but doing very different things with it based on their learning interest, based
on their differentiated learning levels. So we don’t have to teach to the whole and
wait for everybody to get to a certain place before we move to the next place in the continuum
of learning and this enables us to meet kids’ needs in ways that are where they’re at. So when they are ready to move they’re able
to move. Even though the other three kindergarten teachers
are considerably younger than I am, I am actually the one who uses technology the most and is
always looking for new ways to use technology in the classroom and so they love it when
I share ideas of things, oh I found this, we can do this together in the class. I don’t start with technology, I don’t start
that technology is what I want to use so what am I going to teach? What I do is figure out what is it I want
to teach and is there a way that technology can make that a better experience? So we have our one main classroom which is
called our 21st Century Classroom. When you first walk in you’re going to notice
whiteboard walls. We call those the idea walls that you can
actually write on just like a whiteboard. Our tables are movable for different configurations
but they also are whiteboard material on the tables. The other thing in the classroom we’ve found
is that we’re able to differentiate instruction meaning that maybe a group that needs more
time on a concept they work at one table, but there may be another group that needs
to accelerate and so the teacher has the ability to display different things depending on what
the students need. So each one is a math problem. A lot of kids process by talking. Listening to other people think and how they
think about problems and their modeling their thinking is a powerful way to ignite learning
in kids. And so any time we can put them in a collaborate
group where they’re hearing other people process in a structured way, my job then is how do
I set up tasks and conversations so that my kids can build the blocks for each other to
get there. Having spaces like that have pushed me to
be better at moving away from the stage, moving away from being the expert in the room, partnering
up more with kids in that way. (vehicle sound)
What we have found is if you wait to give teachers directions it slows the whole process
down. So making sure that the teachers know that
they have permission to try things that they know will meet the needs of their learners
in the classroom I think is one of the things that is a great asset here. I have found that if you plant the initiative
or plant the goals then the teachers find ways to accomplish that. They are the best teachers of each other for
things that work well for students. It used to be that as a teacher you’d walk
into the classroom and you had a textbook that you taught from and you taught the lesson
and you tested the kids at the end and the learning was very stagnant. What we do now is we have the common core
for a basis for what needs to be taught but the teachers do a lot of pre-assessing, the
teachers use a lot of technology to number one, engage the kids, number two, get feedback
constantly from the kids on their learning and then number three, instead of taking a
test at the end of the unit let’s create a project that shows me what you know. It’s a rather intimidating process I think
for people to learn along with students so I think we’re pretty candid. I’m learning with you, oh I made an error
so don’t do that, but we usually try and fuse it into our lessons. Modeling all the way, model, model, model. Yeah, to make it seem very natural for us. So this is how you use it, this is the mistake
that you can make with it and then the we do, we all go and do it together and then
of course the you do, you go and do it on your own. And I think that’s important that they see
us make those mistakes because sometimes with tech it can seem not super user friendly with
certain systems. And so it’s like, well we just saw Miss Berry
mess up and she figured out eventually and so that struggle is good sometimes. So being able to push beyond the struggle
with using those tools is important. So the National Education Technology Plan
has a new focus for teachers which is really wanting and recognizing that for teachers
to use technology effectively they need a lot of professional development. Many of our teachers did not grow up using
technologies, they did not grow up seeing teachers using technologies effectively, some
of them were not even trained when they went through their teacher preparation programs
because it was long enough ago that they didn’t have those opportunities. We constantly talk about differentiated learning
and how you can’t teach to the whole anymore, it’s just, it’s not fair to students. You have to meet students where they are and
for teachers that becomes a very difficult job because now I’m not teaching to one entire
group, I have 25 individuals who need different kinds of things each and every day. And so technology, especially one-to-one technology,
can differentiate that learning for the student.

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