Congratulations to the winners of CDW Canada's 2011 Teaching with Technology Contest
Grand Prize Winner: Andrew Kesteloot
Arthur Voaden Secondary School, St. Thomas, Ont.
Speaking to Students Through Technology
by Andrew Kesteloot

Let’s face it: students speak a language that many are unfamiliar with, and that language is “technospeak.” Whether it is via web-based applications, other technological advents, Smartphones and/or cell phones, students are proving to be very fluent and comfortable with this more modern way of communicating and learning. While some are intimidated by technology, we’ve been fortunate enough at our school to use new technologies with our students and we have seen improved student engagement, performance, and success.

Students are readily able to keep on top of their studies and interact with each other by using the teacher website. In addition to basic applications like checking their updated marks or going over homework assignments and lessons, many students have chosen to submit their assignments via the web. We also create notes, exemplars, and evaluation tools as a class and then immediately upload these online so students see their efforts. Whether they are analyzing YouTube clips or submitting their “Tweeting Macbeth” assignments online, the use of the web has piqued interest. Even extra-curricular activities have shown increased student participation through an online component (for example, students can submit entries to our photo contest for the annual March Break trip via the website).

Technology in the classroom has also proven to be a helpful aid in classes. Shared reading and exemplar analysis are a snap with the new Ipevo camera our school has. SMART Board usage has dramatically increased student interest and interactivity as well, and tactile/visual learners experience more success. By using Snowball Microphones and Flip Cams, we’ve been able to remove some of the anxiety students feel about presenting in front of large groups of people, yet as a teacher, I’m still able to evaluate all of the same criteria. (These two items also allow the individual students to self-evaluate, letting them see their successes and areas for improvement instead of merely reading feedback from others.)

Finally, we’ve been able to use cell phones and Smartphones to our advantage in class, instead of just seeing them as potential student distractions. First of all, phones themselves are great tools. Most have very useful applications for students including schedules/day planners, calculators, memo tools/voice recorders, cameras for photographing key points, and even internet access. Additionally, we use QR codes frequently to link to teacher websites as well as lesson questions and concepts, and the students really enjoy using them. Finally, we’ve had some great success using phones and the website “PollEverywhere.com”. Students text in their responses and opinions in real time and interact with their peers without feeling intimidated to give their opinions. It’s a great resource which has allowed for more discourse in classes.

Inevitably, whenever we try something new technologically in class, I hear a few, “Wow, this is pretty cool” comments. Really, that engagement is the key to keeping students interested and motivated to learn and succeed. That’s why technology has been so important in our classrooms.

 
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