When Vince Marsala, a ninth grade English, composition, and speech teacher, enrolled in a course about technology in education, one of the topics the course addressed was how to effectively incorporate technology. Marsala, however, was never satisfied with the methods the course provided. He decided his own answer was simple -- his students at Avon Lake (Ohio) High School needed a piece of technology that was as essential to the classroom as he was. So, he attended a workshop in Web development -- and Mr. Marsala's Home Page was born.
|Ninth grade teacher Vince Marsala makes technology an essential part of his classes.|
"After the workshop, I continued to work on the Web site, and my class evolved into a Web-based English class," Marsala told Education World. "All my handouts are on the Web. The students go to the page, get their assignments, and then work on them. Because all my handouts are online, students receive almost no paper handouts, saving me a lot of time. I no longer have to make copies or use class time to get an absent student caught up with an assignment."
Marsala's students use his site daily. It gives parents and students access to all his lesson plans. The site is especially helpful for absent students because they can stay on top of course assignments from home. No student can say he or she didn't know of the class work. Students take ownership of their progress and responsibility for their own success. Because many colleges are moving to Web-based instruction, the site also serves to prepare students for online learning experiences to come.
"The site definitely has enhanced my teaching by allowing me to extend what is going on in my classroom," reported Marsala. "For example, the Language Network Help Center allows students to look through grammar and punctuation links without taking a book home, and the Scholarship Links section allows students a chance to earn money. The Web site was a tremendous undertaking, but ultimately, it makes my job easier. Staying up-to-date with the page eliminates the need to dig through a file cabinet, wait for a copier, run copies, and rush back to the room, thus saving me time and stress."
Because he finds that students get frustrated and fail to use technology that is not user-friendly, one of Marsala's main goals with his site is simplicity in design. Everything is labeled; even a first-time user can locate class calendars and guidelines, grading rubrics, journalism resources, and more.
"The point of education is to put children in a position to attain success," Marsala observed. "Using technology effectively to enhance teaching is the way education is moving. As educators, we owe it to our students to get them ready for upcoming challenges; if students are to succeed, it is our responsibility to help them be ready."
Photos courtesy of Vince Marsala.
Article by Cara Bafile
Copyright © 2004 Education World