21st Century Teaching
Take a peek into a few classrooms to see how teachers are engaging today’s students.
Northgate High School AP U.S. History Teacher Meg Honey talks about using technology to engage students in the classroom.
On any given day in Peggy Cox’s second grade classroom at Coyote Creek Elementary in San Ramon, students do some of their language arts lessons on iPads. Cox’s students use a variety of academic apps and software to improve their vocabulary and reading fluency.
Students in Ceri Freedman’s biology class at Mount Diablo High in Concord learn about mitosis through an interactive cancer study using the dynamic program, Technology Enhanced Learning in Science (TELS).
While learning about literary terms, students in Heather Richey’s English class at Foothill High in Pleasanton listen to and analyze the lyrics of Alanis Morisette’s hit song “Isn’t It Ironic?” and determine that the song’s scenarios are indeed….ironic.
At Saint Mary’s College of California, I teach Technology in the Classroom, a course for that shows future elementary school teachers how to use ever-changing technology resources. I find it rewarding to share my experience with streaming media, online grading systems, digital lessons, and social networking with tomorrow’s educators.
My students examine how technology can support the elementary curriculum as well as enhance it. They learn how to construct a presentation using Prezi software, analyze the latest apps and programs from Apple and Google, investigate technology to support students with special needs, and construct a grade level appropriate WebQuest (online scavenger hunt and culminating project) for their class.
In this blog, I check in with grade school teachers to find out how technology integration looks in real world classrooms. From all accounts, today’s teachers understand the importance of teaching their students’ academic subjects as well as skills for creativity, social engagement, and 21st century citizenship.
In the Classroom
In Emily Andrews' third grade class at Cambridge Elementary in Concord, students participate in the learning process using the Promethean Board, an interactive white board that allows students and teachers to engage with maps, math software, and language arts tools.
“They beam with excitement when they use the computers,” says Andrews, “or when I use the Promethean Board to show them something new and interesting.”
Laura Hallberg, Lead Teacher in Ygnacio Valley High School’s Careers in Education Academy, also sees a lot of excitement.
“The biggest reward is that my students are able to produce much richer and more creative projects and assignments,” she says. “All of my students' projects are done using technology: they create e-portfolios, journal blogs, PowerPoint presentations, design brochures and newsletters, connect through Google Drive, and use Edmodo, an academic social networking site, for assignments and communication.”
Her classroom is also equipped with an Interwrite board, a slightly more advanced SmartBoard. No matter which program they are using, Hallberg’s students are developing 21st century skills, while learning about the field of education.
The Administrator’s Perspective
Mostly, administrators advise teachers to integrate technology into the lessons so it is seamless.
“I’m hoping that the technology used is beyond that of a presentation tool,” says Kevin Honey, the Vice Principal and Administrator in charge of technology at Walnut Creek Intermediate. “I want to observe students using technology to access information, improve their learning process, and deepen their understanding, as opposed to passively watching a staid PowerPoint presentation.”
Jason Dadami says teachers should make sure their presentations are dynamic. He is the Single Subject Teaching Credential Coordinator of Supervision at Saint Mary’s where he oversees teaching credential candidates’ student teaching experience.
“If a presentation tool is being used, a large enough font size, a picture or sound to help students recall material should be incorporated. The teacher should be able to comment beyond the slide itself, and provide working examples, an anecdotal story, or interesting facts that support the message on the slide,” he says.
One of the biggest challenges to integrating technology in the classroom is having enough IT support and hardware to give access to all students. With financial support from schools’ parent groups and fundraising sites like Donors Choose, teachers are increasingly able to bring new LCD projectors, SMART Boards, and iPads into the hands of their students.
As we work to foster curiosity in our students and teach them skills to be creators and producers of new content, technology integration will continue to be a vital part of the learning process.
What is happening at your child’s school with technology? Is there a need for more technology integration? How is the technology learning experience supported?
Meg Honey teaches AP U.S. History and AP Art History at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek. She also serves as a lecturer in the Single and Multiple Subject Credential programs and in the Master of Arts in Teaching program at Saint Mary's College of California. Honey and her husband, Kevin, live in Walnut Creek with their daughter, Carson.