5 Technologies Making the Classroom a Tech-Savvy Space

5 Technologies Making the Classroom a Tech-Savvy Space

5 Technologies Making the Classroom a Tech-Savvy Space

What’s an elementary schoolteacher without a smartphone? Not having her own mobile device wouldn’t just be costing one teacher her job, but potentially her sanity as well. “Our school is 99 percent iPads, so for me, the phone isn’t something I use very often,” says Michelle McGrath, a teacher at Manchester-by-the-Sea Elementary School in Massachusetts. “But the iPads are my life. If I lose them, I’m screwed.”

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In 2011, McGrath transitioned from a classroom full of laptops to an iPad. She now uses her little device to encourage learning by answering student questions, sharing classroom resources, and keeping her community informed. Using technology, she knows how to grade papers in much the same way students do—though it takes a little longer since they must read the accompanying documents through Microsoft Word. She often edits student videos and slideshows, both of which students and parents can download and use at home.

One New England school is using interactive tablets to spread the gospel. http://t.co/7xDXv3ePJl pic.twitter.com/3nbfZylFsL — New York Times Arts (@NYTArts) September 1, 2014

She also instructs students on what to do in addition to what to read—providing numerous examples from movies, television, and game-show transcripts that show how information can help kids organize stories. “I call my lessons math-literacy, and this was first done on textbooks,” she says. “But with an interactive tablet, we can read on our iPads and apply it in various ways.”

And McGrath can use the school’s Google Docs system to post class activities, which help her plan activities weeks in advance—something she can’t do with her old-school laptop. “I can only wish the board worked like this, but unfortunately it doesn’t,” she says. “If there’s a bigger project coming up, all of the letters go out electronically and print out after everyone writes their input on the board.”

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Many teachers in America use their own tablets or even laptops for their classrooms. But educators often find that there’s a stigma attached to using technology in the classroom—not just because tech is new and intimidating, but because some students don’t necessarily use it well—some teachers even complain that some students might find technology to be creepy. As Sherry Anne Hueso, principal of Iowa Classical School and nationally-recognized technology expert, explained to The Atlantic, “The debates about whether to use the Internet in school have frequently revolved around what use to make of personal information, including students’ social media habits and their online contact lists.”

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But fortunately for educators, technology isn’t solely a newfangled phenomenon—rather, it’s created a generation of curious, tech-savvy kids who are ready to join the workforce and become future leaders. “Ten years ago, the expectation was that there was going to be a little bit of technology in the classroom, but we didn’t really understand how that was going to be used or how to use it effectively,” said McGrath. “But if you have this generation of children who are wired—they’re thinking and planning so early in life—then I think it’s important for them to be exposed to it early.”

And even if they can’t explain it, they will certainly get tech savvy—in the same way McGrath has. “I do see us teaching at the desktop computer in the same way that we teach in the classroom now. I still use my laptop because that’s a really valuable tool for my work.”

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