Triggering Event Question: How can I use technology with my 3rd graders to facilitate the experiences that advance their learning in reading and math?
As a current 3rd grade teacher at an independent private school where each of my students has been provided with a Microsoft Surface Pro 3, I am expected to integrate technology on a daily basis with my students. Until this year, I was unfamiliar with a lot of technology that is used, so I consider my implementation at a very basic level. We use OneNote notebooks daily, and I have found the program provides some ease with differentiating math and reading. Applying the SAMR model, I use the tablets for “Substitution” purposes only, mostly for individual review work or typed reflections in social studies. I send documents to the “Content Library” of OneNote and my students can make a copy of the work for their personal notebook, thus eliminating the amount of paper copied and stacks of grading I take home. Additionally, I can send links to the notebooks, which take the hassle out of giving my students opportunity to play online math games, and my students use an online spelling program for weekly practice and quizzes. They do not need their tablets for such learning. However, I recognize that they need more ways to use technology that will enhance their learning in more than just answering my questions or playing a game. Therefore, I wanted to address the question of how I can use technology to facilitate and enhance their learning experiences, specifically in the subject areas of math and reading.
As I explored my first resource, titled “math: core connections tackling math with technology,” by Jocelyn Long, it occurred to me that I should have been addressing the question, “How can I implement a STEM curriculum into my classroom?” If I integrated a STEM curriculum into my regular classroom lessons, my students would not only be advancing their math skills in open-ended and inquiry-based projects and activities, but they would also be building their reading (and research) skills, and would be utilizing their Surface tablets in a much more meaningful way. Long explains how research states that hands-on and real life experiences increase the motivation and performance of students. Technology gives students the opportunity to learn individually or collaboratively while using inquiry and problem-solving skills in a creative way. A STEM lesson would give my students just that.
As an example, for my upcoming unit on Earthquakes, my students could explore the STEM challenge: Design a building that is earthquake resistant. Using technology, they would need to research (enhancing their reading skills) earthquakes and their magnitudes, and would need to make measurements (enhancing their math skills) to use for their structure to make it as strong as possible. As they use their natural-born engineering and problem-solving skills, my students might also encounter exploration of fractions and geometry as they build their structure. Exploring earthquakes through STEM would apply ISTE Standard 1.b: Engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources. When they finish their exploration, they could further their learning in literacy by using a Digital Storytelling technology to tell the story of their learning of earthquakes. This type of technology allows students to “become creative storytellers through the traditional process of selecting a topic, conducting some research, writing a script, and developing an interesting story” (Robin, p. 222). Using their tablet, they would document the exploration of their learning and building of the earthquake-proof structure and experiments using the camera and video features. It would be more than just a paragraph reflection of their learning, and would give me (and them) and much deeper understanding of the material. This learning would apply the Augmentation and Modification areas of the SAMR model, because they would be using technology to interact digitally with video and research. The Digital Storytelling reflection piece of their structure challenge would apply ISTE Standard 1.C: Promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning, and creative processes.
While thinking of ways to implement technology to advance reading in my students, I came across an article on Nearpod and guided reading groups titled, “Using Nearpod in elementary guided reading groups,” and written by Stacy Delacruz. The idea is that I would use Nearpod, a classroom tool used to engage students with interactive lessons and assessments, and downloaded e-books to guide my students through a lesson of a book. Using the program would provide them with a more interactive way to show comprehension, and give me the chance to monitor progress quickly and provide instant and efficient feedback. Using e-books would help with struggling readers who might need help with difficult words, and the program would help visual learners show comprehension and understanding. The program also uses math as poll questions can be graphed and charted.
From sharing this resource of Nearpod with others, I learned a few points that makes me hesitant to implement the program immediately. The most helpful feedback was from classmate Kirsten Collison, I learned that Nearpod has some execution problems that may occur, perhaps due to the program being new and glitches are still being worked out. I was also reminded of my own exploration of the program during a training six months ago, in which I observed that the creation of lessons on Nearpod can be time consuming, and purchasing pre-made lessons can be expensive. Overall, I would say that Nearpod could be a great tool for the classroom, in any subject area, perhaps in time when the glitches have been fixed, and when I have more time to create a meaningful lesson for which my students can interact.
Robin, B.R. (2008). Digital Storytelling: A Powerful Technology Tool for the 21st Century Classroom. Theory Into Practice, 47(3), 220-228. doi:10.1080/00405840802153916 Retrieved from: http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.spu.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=4ff4f31d-ae97-4c68-a793-b863621ae380%40sessionmgr111&vid=12&hid=110
Delacruz, S. (2014). Using Nearpod in elementary guided reading groups. Techtrends: Linking Research and Practice To Improve Learning, 58(5), 62-69. Retrieved from: http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.spu.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=092d23b0-86b2-4aa0-9d7c-f7fd0aaf40ac%40sessionmgr4004&vid=25&hid=4104
Long, J. (2013). Math: core connections tackling math with technology. Children’s Technology and Engineering, 17 (3), 14-17. Retrieved from: http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.spu.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=092d23b0-86b2-4aa0-9d7c-f7fd0aaf40ac%40sessionmgr4004&vid=29&hid=4104