I posted earlier describing my skepticism about the benefits of using technology in the classroom. Though I help students and their families use technology a lot through our home computer project and our after-school ESL Computer Lab, along with other opportunities, I don’t really use it much in my own classroom. In my earlier post I emphasized that I thought the key was the teacher, not the tools.
A very thoughtful comment was left by Dorothy Burt, and I read it at just about the same time I was putting an experiment in place for the next school year. Her comment helped me further develop my thoughts.
A more accurate statement of my position is probably to say that it’s the “teacher and the curriculum” that are the key, not the tools. I believe that pretty much any teacher, (with training and support) can help raise student achievement with an engaging curriculum — with or without technology. We have an example of that in our school with an extraordinary ninth and tenth grade English curriculum that doesn’t incorporate technology but has been very successful on many levels, including student/teacher engagement and student academic achievement.
So, yes, I believe that an engaging curriculum without technology can work great. And, yes, I believe that an engaging curriculum involving heavy technology use can be great, too.
So, given (in my mind, at least) that both curriculums can work well, can an engaging curriculum using technology be more successful than one that doesn’t use it consistently?
I suspect not, but I’m open to exploring the possibility and being wrong. And it looks like I’ll be exploring it very intentionally next year.
I’ve made a proposal to my school that I teach two separate classes of the same subject (two U.S. History, Geography, World History, or Economy/Government classes for English Language Learners, or two Intermediate English classes). In one of the classes I would use the same engaging curriculum I’ve done before and has had very positive results.
In the other class each student would have laptops, at least for the time they were in the classroom, with a wireless connection to the Internet. I would develop an engaging curriculum maximizing the use of technology for that period.
We’d have a series of assessments for each class, and compare the results at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of the year.
School staff seem pretty enthusiastic about the idea, and it obviously sounds interesting to me.
What do you think? Am I missing something?