Enhancing Instruction with Technology: Reflection

Blog: Final Reflection
I realize that my theory of learning needs to include more technology tools. In the past, I have used videos and power points as the main ways to integrate technology into the classroom. However, over the last several weeks, I have been exposed to various technology resources that I can use that enhance my instructional message. I use cooperative learning a great deal in my classroom. When I integrate technology tools within this setting, I can help these students work together to become more productive while absorbing a new skill and new information. For example, recently my students were able to use Voice Thread to complete their own teaching project about chronic adult diseases. Students collaborated in small groups to create slides using images and information they found on the internet. I was excited to see team members engaged in creating the final project that would ultimately be presented to their peers. Team members were asking questions, they decided what information to include, and discarded information that was irrelevant. This is the kind of interaction I wanted to see among the students. It was refreshing to see them using voice thread in a manner that spoke to their desire to be innovative and up to date by using something new for a class project. Using multimedia for instruction is a great way to enhance teaching. However, student-created multimedia projects truly engage the students and get their creative juices flowing. The outcome was so rewarding, I have started to find ways to adjust current lessons to include technology tools such as this or find tools to implement the lessons I want to create.
In keeping with my desire to use technology more often in the classroom, I recently introduced yet another resource to a different class-Spiderscribe. This concept mapping tool has proved to be a great way to help student focus on a topic and then connect that central theme to other information that is relevant. My students are putting together timelines for a child development class. They are using Spiderscribe to map the emotion development and physical development of an infant for one year. They will include pictures, website links, and captions to connect the information they discover and they will ultimately connect specific developmental milestones that coincide, such as speech and temperament. Yet another technology tool that I planning to use is Prezi. Several of my students are using this technology in other classes. I have recruited a few students to help me convert some of my power point presentation to the Prezi format. I believe that presentation can help make a not so interesting topic become more interesting and lead to engagement.
This course has helped me to step out of my comfort zone and use tools that I thought would be too complicated for me to understand, use, or teach in the classroom. However, I am amazed and proud to say that I have discovered and used more technology tools during the last several weeks than I have in the last few years. That being said, I cannot stop here. Even though we have limited access to technology tools on the school network, by researching the web 2.0 tools listed in this course, I can find out which ones my students can access and which ones will work for the classes that I teach. As a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher, it is hands on nearly every day in every class. To keep the energy going, my instruction and student’s learning should be updated relate to their lives. My goals are to keep trying new things using the tools I have acquired recently and to change my instruction in a way that will open the door for using technology. For instance, if I cannot find a multimedia source to show students the proper way to hold and infant, perhaps students can work together to create their own video that would show the correct way but then also show the damaged done by not providing proper head support. In this manner, students would be able to show why head support is crucial for a newborn but they also learn to plan, edit, research, and put together a mini-movie for their peers to view. Taking it one step further, the students who created the video become the instructors for their classmates. This student to student interaction can inspire others to do similar projects and find ways to implement the process.
I am starting to enjoy the idea of technology and ways that I can use these tools to engage students and enhance my lesson plans. For the high school aged students that I teach, I have found that it is imperative that I continue to expand my personal list of technology tools. This age group has never been without technology and they simply need it to help them be creative, increase interest in the lesson, gain a skill, become more productive, and become more focused. Technology tools can help do all this for our students learning and for our teaching.