In another recent education technology integration Englert designed, students used student response systems, or clickers, for in-class instant formative assessment.
When choosing which technology to implement, the “focus is not on whether tool use improves outcomes, but why,” she said. “Clickers work because of the increased opportunities to respond and the role of feedback in instruction. Not because students just like clickers.”
Watch SMART’s video on how to best use student response systems in class:
Englert also explained that many topics as part of the world history project centered on Eastern European history, because many students’ families in Pennsylvania have Eastern European backgrounds.
“It’s essential that when you consider a project that you take into account student interests and backgrounds, as well as your local school, district, and state culture. By incorporating these considerations, students can not only better relate to the content they’re producing and learning about, but hopefully taking the work home to include family.”
To have a better selection of student projects and to also maximize student creativity, individual students were also asked different questions.
“Part of choosing the technology and developing projects around the technology is understanding the individual strengths of students, as well as their desire to be a creative individual. That’s why we decided to have different questions for each student.”
She noted that the questions varied in difficulty as well as content, based on individual learning styles. For instance, if some students needed a broader question to be able to go more in-depth, then those questions were assigned to them. However, if some students needed more structure so as to better understand the material, they were assigned those questions.
Focus on the process
A large part of being able to successfully implement education technology and technology-based projects is in detailing a schedule, said Englert.
For example, in the world history project, Englert and the teacher decided to draft a project schedule for students, describing what parts of the project come first, middle, and last; and also when each part should be completed.
“When students left the class every day they would place a sticky note with their name next to the schedule that was available on the whiteboard. Then, the next day, students would again mark where they were on the schedule, allowing the teacher to see where each student was in their project on a daily basis,” she said.
So really, it’s not just about having a whiteboard with a schedule and cool little sticky notes, continued Englert. It’s about using that education technology to make learning more efficient.
To make teachers’ lives easier as well, Englert always makes a list of all of the standards, Common Core or otherwise, that are being integrated within each project.
“One complaint I often hear from teachers is: ‘Projects take too much time.’ I think this is because without having a visual list of all the standards covered, teachers sometimes don’t realize that even though a project takes time, it’s worth it for all the standards it can pack in at once,” she noted.
(Next page: 6 considerations to keep in mind)
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