Effective Uses of Technology

Many schools are excited because they are going “1-to-1.” For those of you who may not know, 1-to-1 is a term for programs that provide students in a school, district or state with their own laptop, tablet computer or other computing device.

Great! But the cold, hard truth is 1-to-1 is of little value—and not truly innovative—unless you change how you teach.

We don’t let students use their hand-held devices when they take a test because they might CHEAT by either looking up the answer or sharing the answer with other students. But they would be using resources and/or working with others! Two of the most basic skills needed to be successful in the world beyond school!

Are you trying to force 21st century technology to conform to our 20th century schools OR are you trying to transform our 20th century schools into the realities of our 21st century technology-based society and workplace?

Our nation’s most rapidly improving schools are using technology to fundamentally change what and how we teach.

Best Practice 1 — Flipped Classrooms
Clintondale High School, Clinton Township, Mich.: In 2010, Clintondale became the first school in the country to become a fully “flipped” school. Before 2010, the school struggled to educate its high number of at-risk students. So teachers prepared instructional videos that students watched outside of class. This allowed teachers to provide far more hands-on and personal guidance for each student in the classroom. For more information, please see Our Story.

Best Practice 2 — Leveraging Technology to Teach Self-Directed Learning Skills
Penn Manor High School, Millersville, Pa.: Today’s students are “digital natives,” comfortable with technology and constant change. The school’s goal was to help teachers make the transition to 1-to-1 mobile devices for students, thus placing the power of learning in the hands – and heads – of students. For example, some students have difficulty with concepts associated with writing complete sentences. The solution? Teachers use an Edmodo online assessment which scores students’ responses and shows them their gaps in understanding. Students then learn how to analyze the results and develop an individual virtual learning plan. A recent post-assessment of this exercise showed an average learning gain of 15 percent.

Best Practice 3 — Technology Integration Through “Julius Caesar”
New Milford High School, New Milford, N.J.:  Several ELA teachers asked students to use Twitter to build on and engage in content authentic to William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar. The teachers began by researching the history of the Roman Forum. This ensured the ensuing discourse though social media was within a relevant historical context. Teachers guided students through an exercise to deconstruct a typical tweet. They also instructed students how to use Mozilla Thimble to create memes. The integration of technology made it possible for students to approach the topic in a fresh way, while also raising levels of rigor and relevance.


At this year’s 25th Annual Model Schools Conference, held June 25-28 in Nashville, we will showcase schools which are incorporating technology into their lesson plans. Join us!


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