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Integrating Technology in the K-12 Classroom Utilizing technology in schools is not a new concept. Since the 1950’s schools have been using calculators, over-head projectors, filmstrip projectors, TV’s, and other electronic tools to enhance learning. Rather than just using technology to embellish lessons, today's teachers desire to use technology as an extension of their lessons to get students engaged in learning. The question teachers are asking now is how to effectively integrate technology to achieve higher order thinking involving analysis and synthesis. True technology integration takes place when students meet or exceed curriculum standards in a certain subject area instead of students just knowing basic computer literacy. Students should be challenged to solve problems and to synthesize information. When students are challenged in this way, research demonstrates that student performance increased. In his article “Integrating Technology in the K-12 Classroom,” Jeremiah Grabowski mentions several successful integration practices for teachers. In science, simulation software helps the students engage in experiments on a level never-before available. With simulation software students can perform an experiment over and over until the students understand the concept. Also, students can “apply theories instead of spending time conducting experiments.” One advantage of using this software is that less-wealthy schools that lack science equipment can still conduct meaningful experiments even when resources are scarce. Some examples of science simulation software are Making SENS and National Science Resources Center. Other simulations that span other school subjects are SimCity, Making History, Revolution, and Real Lives. In history class, teachers can integrate technology by taking their students on virtual expeditions on the internet. With World Wildlife Fund students follow scientist to far-away places, and with Blue Zone students actually get to guide a team of scientist and journalist as they explore the world. Another way teachers can use computer integration in the classroom is to use digital portfolios. Students practice critical thinking and evaluating skills as they create projects and decide which projects they want to include in their portfolios. Digital portfolios lend themselves to connecting with others (using hyperlinks) and receiving feedback. Even art teachers can have their students create digital portfolios to share with a larger audience by using school websites, blogs, media-sharing sites, and a new art sharing website called Artsonia, which allow teachers to create galleries of their students’ work. Integrating technology into the classroom has resulted in higher student achievement and lower discipline problems but resistance to and barriers to full integration persist. Many teachers still use computers as an electronic worksheet or as a rote memory aide with drill and practice. Some technology leaders in education advocate opening up unlimited internet access at school, email and instant messaging for students, and cell phone use during school hours, viewed by some teachers and administrators as anathema. Today’s students are the “digital natives” and to make learning authentic, teachers and administrators—“the digital immigrants”--must throw out outdated ideas and have a willingness to change in order for integration barriers to be dissolved.
Even though I am a single mom with two active teenagers and a full time 6th grade teacher, I am enjoying my second year as a graduate student at UHCL. Each class I take makes me more excited about becoming a librarian, which I hope to be by 2012 when a new middle school in my district will open. I’ve always been intrigued with technology and how to use it effectively in the classroom. I hope to use some of the “things” I will learn in “Library2Play” with my students this year. Let the adventure begin!