Derek has a Masters of Science degree in Teaching, Learning & Curriculum.
In modern education, there's a focus on helping students take control of their learning and become responsible for their education. The trend towards empowering students, or helping students take ownership of learning and be excited by their education, has been facilitated by an increasing access to technology. This lesson will show how technology can help empower students by allowing you to follow a student through his school day.
Marco's School Day
Marco is a fourth grade student at ABC Elementary. When he began school, Marco struggled to adapt to the classroom and was often bored and unenthused about learning. However, these attitudes changed this year when Marco was moved to a classroom with a teacher who utilizes technology to excite her students. It's made a world of difference to Marco.
Marco starts his day at home by checking a classroom website when he wakes up. This website is updated every morning and afternoon by the teacher to give students important information about their day. Marco knows he's expected to check this website every day for important announcements before coming to school. In some cases, the classroom website will have information about assemblies or other interruptions in the daily schedule. Today, however, Marco sees that the day will proceed as usual. He knows what his day is going to look like and is able to go into school ready to learn and work.
The first thing Marco and his classmates must do as they enter the classroom is sign in on the classroom computer by simply typing their names into a spreadsheet. This is Marco's teacher's way of taking roll. This way, each student is responsible for his or her own attendance record. During the first few days of school, the teacher had the students sign in and took traditional roll by calling names. However, now the teacher leaves it to the students to sign in and make sure they are marked present.
Marco's morning proceeds normally as his teacher checks homework and teaches several lessons. At 10:30, Marco knows it's time for the class to use laptops to complete various tasks. Without any prompting from the teacher, several students begin handing out the laptops. When Marco gets his laptop, he gets right to work. He sees on his schedule (which is shared with students each week through email) that today he is to work on his research project about the Civil War. Marco spends the next period researching and compiling sources for the presentation he will have to create. While Marco was working on his research, other students may have been on a reading website or completing worksheets in a word processing program. By giving students a weekly schedule, Marco's teacher has given them the responsibility of doing their own work.
Engaging Through Technology
The students go to lunch while Marco's teacher updates the classroom website with tonight's homework. When the students return from lunch, Marco's teacher teaches some lessons using the classroom Promethean board, or an interactive whiteboard that has the power of a computer to project images, responds to touchscreen activity, and displays video with sound. The Promethean board is Marco's favorite piece of technology in the classroom. He loves interacting with the information on the touchscreen projector.
Near the end of the day, Marco and his classmates are given an iPad and headphones to watch videos assigned individually to them by the teacher. Marco understands he is expected to take some notes about the videos for a class discussion. The notes they take from the videos they are watching will guide their discussion of the topics, putting them in charge of their own learning.
Finally, near dismissal, the teacher tells her students which books they will need to take home with them for the night's homework. Marco knows that he will need to check the classroom website to find what his homework is.
Although he may not fully understand the reasoning for all of the activities throughout the day, Marco goes home feeling good about his day at school, proud of the work he did. Marco's teacher has designed her classroom to make the most use of the technology available to her. Through incorporating technology to foster student independence, she is able to empower her students, encouraging feelings of responsibility for their own learning.
The prevalence of technology in the classroom has helped teachers empower students, or help students take ownership of learning and be excited by their education. By following along with Marco's day, you saw several ways in which his teacher empowered her students through the use of technology, including:
- The use of a classroom website for scheduling and homework assignation
- Allowing students to sign in for the day on a spreadsheet
- Individualized work tasks on borrowed, classroom laptops
- The use of a Promethean board, an interactive touchscreen projector used in classrooms
- Personalized video assignments for class discussion using iPads and headphones
By fostering independence and responsibility for their work, the instructor empowers her students through the use of the various forms of technology in the classroom.
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