By Lisa Buckshaw and Aimee Lyon
Included: Five integration activities that any teacher can do.
Greece Central School District, the eighth largest school district in New York State, is committed to providing technology resources to all students, and strongly encourages all teachers to embed technology into their entire curriculum.
In 2002, Greece adopted the Full Option Science System. FOSS provides the district with a science program that matches state standards, promotes instructional practices consistent with district goals, and allows teachers to integrate technology and science instruction.
To help teachers in their efforts to integrate technology and science, Greece provides students and teachers with a number of technology resources: At the elementary level, each school contains a wired computer lab, capable of serving an entire class; a wireless, mobile computer lab; five student computers in each grade 1-5 classroom; and three student computers in each pre-K and kindergarten classroom. In addition, all 12 elementary schools have cordless microscopes and a flex cam camera. Each classroom also is outfitted with an "Imagination Station" -- a teacher computer with beefed up memory, a DVD player, and a monitor large screen monitor that can project Internet sites, presentations, and so on.
Using those technology resources and others, Greece's teachers have found a number of creative and interesting ways to enhance the investigations of FOSS. A few examples are highlighted below.
A kindergarten teacher at Pine Brook Elementary School integrated technology into the FOSS Animals Two By Two module. Her class observed and sorted pill bugs and sow bugs by using two different tools. While half the class observed with hand lenses and recorded observations, the other half used the flex cam to see if they could uncover more details. The two groups then switched tools to see if either tool left out important details in their observations. That helped reinforce how tools are helpful to scientists in different ways.
A first-grade teacher at English Village Elementary School found a unique way to integrate technology to enhance students' retention during the Balance and Motion module. She took pictures with a digital camera while students investigated balancing paper crayfish with clothespins. She then put the photographs into a PowerPoint slide show. The next day, students recounted their experiments by flipping through the slide show; the teacher used the drawing tool to circle and highlight ideas on the slides as students discussed and explained what they did. The kids loved it so much that their teacher taught them how to use the drawing tool themselves, so they could point out the information as they were sharing what they remembered. That activity set up students for success by reviewing previous learning before engaging in a new lesson.
A second-grade teacher at Parkland Elementary School found that technology made her Insects module come to life. Her students used the flex cam -- which allowed students to see greater detail than they could with a hand lens alone -- to observe different insects. Students were able to critically analyze changes in the insects as they progressed through life-cycle stages, and their observation records were flooded with detail. At each stage of metamorphosis, students took pictures with the Intel Play microscope and then printed them to create a timeline. Students also wrote descriptions to narrate the metamorphosis process. The teacher worked with small groups of students to show them how the technology worked.
A third-grade teacher at Buckman Heights Elementary used technology during the Earth Materials module. In one part of the module's investigation, students observed the results of evaporation. The teacher had students start crystal observations with a hand lens. Then she used the flex cam to magnify the crystals on the TV monitor. She placed samples of the crystals on black construction paper for better visibility. It was amazing how much more detail students were able to see! Students illustrated their observations, compared the results obtained with the two tools, and discussed what they saw and how it got there. Finally, they compared their observations to a key to try to identify the crystals.
An administrative intern at English Village and Lakeshore Elementary Schools found ways to integrate technology into the earth science modules during her time as a fourth-grade teacher. While exploring the Water module, students made slides of water on different materials to observe surface tension. They then used microscopes to compare the results. Students also used the flex cam to observe water absorbency, surface tension, evaporation, and condensation. For absorbency, the class observed how different paper towels absorbed water. They moved the flex cam to get a close-up side view of the surface tension of water on a penny. Then, using a light as a heat source, they observed water evaporating from a penny. To study condensation, students chilled a water bottle and used the flex cam to observe evidence of condensation. The teacher also had students search the Internet for pictures of water in different states of the water cycle. They put those images into an Inspiration graphic organizer and created their own water cycle posters.
The results of Greece's emphasis on integrating science and technology show increased student achievement in both science and reading. In 2004-05, 96 percent of Greece's students met or exceeded the state standard on the fourth-grade New York state science test. That number represented a 5 percent increase from 2003-2004 and a 13 percent increase from 2002-2003. Additionally, 66 percent of the district's fourth-grade students exceeded the state standard in science -- representing a 40 percent increase from 2003-2004. In addition, significant gains by fourth graders in English language arts scores were noted, which also might be a result of the science/technology integration program.
Article by Lisa Buckshaw and Aimee Lyon
Copyright © Education World
Last updated 08/23/2011