TL-III Teaching, Learning, and the Curriculum Statement
In order to facilitate technology-enhanced experiences that maximize student learning, I look to current research in educational technology in order to design methods and strategies for teaching content standards and student technology standards simultaneously. The 2007 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) National Education Technology Standards for Students and Performance Indicators for Students (NETS*S) provide my current student-centered road map.
At a basic level of technology integration, students and teachers need to know how to use a variety of technology tools. The primary productivity tool in my 6th grade classroom is word processing. Over the years, my classroom has transformed from the hand-written rough draft and word-processed final draft, to having most of our essay writing experiences completed entirely on the computer. In addition to developing typing speed and knowledge of word processing, students in my classroom learn different ways to make their documents portable including saving as .pdf or .rtf or using Web to email documents or even write collaboratively on Web 2.0 sites.
Word processing and other Web-based writing productivity tools are also the foundation for student research projects. When my students’ prepared their National History Day documentaries, they combined Internet research skills with productivity tools. Students were given extensive instruction on Internet safety, digital citizenship, and effective searching methods before beginning Internet research. Important components of the pre-research lessons included Internet safety and how to maintain personal information privacy when researching; how to use media within fair-use guidelines for educational purposes; and Boolean search logic to maximize desired search results. Students also practiced effective ways to cite Internet sources by copying links and pasting the URL in their Works Cited list. As the project progressed, students wanting to use various media had engaging discussions about copyright and fair-use and student teams cited a large number resources, 20 – 40 citations, while working on their documentaries.
At a more advanced level of technology integration, problem solving and decision-making becomes a more prominent feature of the learning experience. I have found that creating audio-visual media, such as a digital story or documentary, helps students develop higher-order thinking skills while being highly engaged in a creative process. If students work together as a team, they will also learn collaboration and negotiation skills. During the 2007-2008 school year, my 5th and 6th grade class participated in a digital storytelling project facilitated by the Anchorage School District Educational Technology Department and Dr. Jason Ohler from the University of Alaska Southeast (Ohler, 2008). This was my first experience teaching digital storytelling in the classroom.