Integrating Technology in the Classroom: It Takes More Than Just Having Computers
Technology has become part of the educational process, but too often it is separate and not integrated into the learning experience.Today, Education World offers easy and painless ways to integrate technology into your daily routine. Included: Nineteen activities and nearly 50 Web sites.
Integrating technology into the curriculum is a priority -- if not a mandate -- in most schools today. Most educational technology experts agree, however, that technology should be integrated, not as a separate subject or as a once-in-a-while project, but as a tool to promote and extend student learning on a daily basis. The challenge, of course, is in finding ways to use technology -- and to help students use it -- that don't take time away from core subjects.
For many teachers, a lack of personal experience with technology presents an additional challenge. In order to incorporate technology-based activities and projects into their curriculum, those teachers first must find the time to learn to use the tools and understand the terminology necessary for participation in those projects or activities.
Used properly, however, technology can be a tool for teachers as well as for students. To help teachers new to technology gain experience in using it, and to help tech savvy teachers incorporate technology more fully into their daily routines, Education World offers the following easy ways in which you can seamlessly integrate technology into your daily and weekly classroom routines.
- Access an online weather forecast.
Most elementary grade teachers begin each school day with a discussion of the date and local weather. Why not take an extra minute to visit a site such as UM Weather, The Weather Channel, or USA Today Weather, to find out what the rest of the day might bring? If you have a few extra minutes, check out weather in other parts of the country as well.
- Include URLs in your monthly calendar.
Each month, Education World provides a printable and editable coloring calendar for classroom use. Before distributing copies of the calendar to your students, add the URLs of a few sites that will add to their understanding of the months events -- and encourage them to visit those sites. The September calendar, for example, might offer links to sites about Labor Day, Grandparents' Day, and Hispanic Heritage Month. (A kid-friendly search engine such as Yahoo Kids will help you locate appropriate sites.) Or, students can find the sites themselves as they complete a Months of the Year Project.
- Access online weather forecasts in French, German, or Spanish.
Begin foreign language classes with a discussion of the day's weather. The Weather Channel provides weather information for Brazil, Germany, France, and Latin America in the native language of each country.
- Challenge students with online mathematics problems.
Add a daily or weekly mathematics challenge to your seatwork assignments, math lessons, or extra credit activities. The Math Forums Math Problem of the Week offers word problems in five categories -- math fundamentals, pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, and pre-calculus. The AIMS Puzzle Corner provides more than 100 math-related puzzles appropriate for students in upper elementary grades and middle school. Most include printable worksheets. Aunty Math's Math Challenges for K-5 Learners offers biweekly word problems for younger students, while high school students will enjoy the news-related math problems at Math Counts. Dont like todays problem? Not to worry! Most of the sites listed also include extensive archives. If you teach grades 3-8, extend your students online math experience and encourage them to match wits with students around the world by participating in the Abacus International Math Challenge.
- Provide a URL in place of a quote.
Do you write a quote on the chalkboard each day, for students to reflect on and discuss? Instead of writing out the quote, provide students with the URL and have them locate the days quote themselves. Quote of the Day, Quotes of the Day, and Quote A Day are all excellent sources of funny, inspirational, or thought-provoking quotes.
- Introduce a word of the day.
Extend students vocabulary by including an online word of the day in opening activities, seatwork assignments, or language arts lessons. The Daily Buzzword at Word Central provides a word of the day and related activity appropriate for upper elementary students. Vocabulary Builder offers words and definitions for students in grades 4-6 and grades 6-9. The words and definitions at A Word a Day and Word of the Day are best for students in middle and high school.
- Keep them spelling.
Spelling isnt a subject that should die in elementary school. Prove it to your middle and high school students by adding spelling to language arts lessons or extra credit assignments. Spelling lists can be found at Spellingcity.com.
- Make history real.
For many kids, history is only a subject in a book; one that's unrelated to real people, real events, or todays news. Personalize history lessons for those students by beginning each history lesson with a quick visit to Today in History or This Day in History.
- Utilize online work sheets.
Are you worn out from trying to come up with new and creative seatwork assignments day after day after day? Make life easier on yourself by including a few online worksheets. Each week, Education World provides an original printable Scavenger Hunt and a Writing Bug creative writing activity. In addition, TeAchnology offers lots of work sheets in a variety of curriculum areas.
- Offer online SAT practice.
College-bound high school students always can benefit from additional PSAT and SAT practice. SuperKids provides a PSAT and SAT Vocabulary Builder, in the form of a word of the day.
- Beef up your history lessons.
Primary source materials adds interest to any history lessons; reading Thomas Jeffersons notes on the U.S. Constitution provides insights into U.S. history that a mere reading of the Constitution cannot. When planning U.S. history lessons, visit the Library of Congress's American Memory Collections search engine to locate primary source material for whatever topic youre tackling. Encourage students to include primary source materials in their history papers as well.
- Provide online reading comprehension practice.
Add a fun reading comprehension activity to your students language arts curriculum with the Comenius Group's Fluency Through Fables lesson. Designed for students of English as a second language, the activity is appropriate for English-speaking students in elementary and middle school as well. The lesson includes a brief fable and four categories of related activities; vocabulary matching exercises, vocabulary completion exercises, multiple choice comprehension exercises, and written discussion exercises.
- Incorporate online news sources into discussions of current events.
Dont limit students current events contributions to print newspapers; encourage them to search online media as well. CNN and MSNBC are excellent places to start looking for national and international news. Or, check out Online Newspapers to find your local newspaper online. The Internet Public Library also provides links to local news sources by country and, for the United States, by state.
- Make the news a learning tool.
Help students better understand current events and connect todays news to their own lives by encouraging them to further explore the issues of the day. The Why Files, for example, uses news and current events as the basis for science, health, and technology lessons. What caused the tornado that devastated the Midwest or the hurricane that hit Florida? How does war affect those living in battle zones? What vote-counting technique is most accurate? The Why Files will explain it all. How Stuff Works also is an extensive site with information on a vast number of topics. Today's students, for example, might want to learn How Stinger Missiles Work, How Stem Cells Work, or How Hybrid Cars Work.
- Spice up your grammar lessons.
Explore Daily Grammar's Lesson Archive to find a new grammar lesson every day. The site features nearly 450 lessons on topics ranging from adjectives and apostrophes to prepositional phrases and verbs!
- Make science a daily event.
With the current emphasis on reading and math in schools, getting in a daily -- or even weekly -- science lesson can be difficult. If youre having trouble finding time for a more formal science lesson, take a minute to discuss NASAs Astronomy Picture of the Day or Goddard Space Centers Earth Science Picture of the Day, both of which include a brief explanation of the days photo. You might also briefly discuss a scientist or a scientific event from Today in Science History.
- Sign up for a science experiment of the week.
If you have the time for the science lesson, but not enough time to research and find a steady supply of really engaging science experiments, sign up for Steve Spangler's Science Experiment of the Week. Each week, a new science experiment will be e-mailed to you.
- Make geography a daily event.
For most kids, geography has something to do with maps -- and maps are boring! Extend students geography awareness by challenging them to answer the five daily questions posed at GeoBee Challenge. The questions are taken from the National Geographic Geography Bee. Maybe your students will get good enough to compete in this years event! Looking for a quicker lesson? Find the distance between any two cities in the world at How Far Is It? By the way, National Geographics Map Machine can even make maps fun!
- Keep 'em guessing!
It's Friday afternoon and most students have their eyes on the clock and their minds on a weekend of freedom. If you have access to enough computers that students can work individually or in small groups, try to keep the learning going with some stimulating online games. Solving the problems at Mystery Net generally demands more logic than Math. That sites features include Get-a-Clue, a daily mystery appropriate for younger students; See-n-Solve, a weekly mystery featuring USA TV's Detective Monk; and Solve-it!, a monthly mystery in which students read a mystery and then solve the crime. The latter two activities are best for older students. Or, simply reward students for a week of hard work by allowing them a few minutes to play some of the online Logic Games at SuperKids. Games include Battleship, checkers, tic-tac-toe, BreakOut, and more.
Article by Linda Starr
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