3. Whenever possible, opt for plug-and-play options.
When teachers get frustrated with a new product, that product will likely end up gathering dust on a classroom shelf. Knowing this, we pick our partners carefully, and we make sure those partners have product development, product support, and user-friendly interfaces to help even the most technology-averse teacher continue to move forward down the path to the 21st- century classroom. The Boxlight multiple-touch panels we’re using are so interactive and so easy to use that it really is a no-brainer.
4. Seek out technology that brings the curriculum to life.
There’s no doubt that technology has broadened the K-8 curriculum. I recently walked into a classroom where the students were reading Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, which includes a section where a mouse takes flight on a bird’s back. The teacher immediately went into a lesson on lift—and the aerodynamics that are necessary for lift—and rolled it right out onto the students’ laptops. The kids were looking at the airplanes, comparing them with birds, and learning about airstream and pickup. Interestingly, later that day I saw two students out on the field at recess discussing a bird, how it was circling, and the air currents. This is just one of many examples of how technology brings curriculum to life.
5. Work in the “now,” but plan for the future.
In my high school world history class, we learned about World War II by listening to a lecture, reading a book, and taking a test. Thanks to technology, we can now bring those lessons to life through interactivity and collaboration. Students can speculate and come up with diagrams, ideas, and what-if scenarios that help prepare them for future career success. Knowing that 60 percent of the jobs that elementary school students will fill haven’t even been invented yet, our district is on a mission to prepare those students for successful futures by transforming its classrooms into 21st-century learning environments.
The Classroom of the Future
Walk into one of our classrooms at Huntington Beach (CA) City School District right now and you won’t find a typical classroom. You’ll find groups of students working together, others working independently, and still others moving from one group to the next to discuss different topics. We’re setting the stage for the classroom of the future, where teachers will introduce a concept or an idea and then ask students to use their skill sets, interests, and knowledge to either prove or disprove that concept—and then show mastery in a way that is far more important than simply regurgitating information on a test.