In my practicum experience, I was only able to use technology in a fairly limited fashion. Due to a combination of lack of available technology and a general lack of EdTech know-how, I was only able to incorporate technology into my lessons in relatively surface-level capacity. However, I do have a few ideas of how I could have better integrated technology to really enhance my students’ learning.
With a grade 7 geography class, I had groups of 4 students become an expert on the extraction of a specific natural resource in a specific place (ie: gold mining in South Africa, oil extraction in the UAE, beef cattle farming in the USA, etc). This lesson was preceded by a class brainstorm on the different types of natural resources that we use. They needed to learn how the resource was extracted, the impacts that the extraction methods had on the environment and society, and whether or not the practice was sustainable. One of the main goals of this lesson was getting the students comfortable with one of the most widely-accessible, free, and most important technological tools at their disposal:
I gave each group a couple of links to get them started, but we also brainstormed keywords that might help them become more effective researchers. I gave them a few days to research and had them prepare a poster with the goal of doing a gallery walk to showcase their work and use as a springboard for the next task: becoming an advocate for more sustainable practices pertaining to the use, extraction and waste management of natural resources and convincing the “government” (me and the rest of the class) that something needed to be done. Regrettably, my practicum ended before I could put this part of the lesson into motion.
Essentially, Google was used as a substitute for doing research using books. Obviously, this makes research more efficient by being able to comb through large amounts of data quickly with a few keywords and the click of a mouse. I had expected most students to be fairly adept at this but I was surprised to learn that many students typed full-sentence questions into Google when they were looking for information. So, in completing this task, my students learned how to better use Google not just to research their natural resourcce, but how to use Google to look up anything they wanted.
There were some challenges in having the students on devices using Google. For starters, my class only had about 8 Chromebooks between our class of 25 so many of them had to use their cellphones to search. So naturally, the distraction factor already present when allowing students to use the internet in class was enhanced by the fact that they could also be texting or on social media. But generally, the students found the task to be engaging enough that this wasn’t an issue too frequently.
There are many ways I could have enhanced my lesson through the use of technology. In my introductory PowerPoint presentation, I have a slide asking students to recall knowledge from a previous lesson. But I could have used a quick Kahoot! quiz to draw them in with something fun. If I had Chromebooks for my whole class, I could have had them compile their data on a Google Doc as opposed to having one student compile the data on their own on paper or on a Microsoft Word document. This would allow multiple students to contribute to the project at once.
As I mentioned earlier, I had intended for the students to become advocates for sustainable practices pertaining to natural resources and present to the rest of the class once the posters were done. They could have made a Google Slide presentation or a Prezi to frame their presentation. But imagine what it would have been like if rather than presenting to each other, they presented to an expert on the topic (like an environmentalist). The Digital Human Library could have been a way to get in touch with someone who could have done just that.
While it’s true that I certainly didn’t do anything groundbreaking in terms of technology use, but I think that there are definitely lots of ways to incorporate technology into my lesson. But that’s the fun thing about being a teacher; I can always try again and aim to make it better!