The educators at theNAt, teaching human Impact to 5th graders, decided it would be reasonable to begin modeling environmentally friendly practices such as going paperless in the classroom. This opened up the possibility of integrating more technology tools and enabling students access to the world wide web. Using cloud-based word processing tools such as Google Docs and Evernote also enable students to work more efficiently and produce more refined/polished content. Perhaps one of the main advantages of using technology tools in this rotation is the idea of making the projects more authentic. Using social media tools like Skype/Facetime, students can meet face-to-face with experts in the field around the world. Students can also use similar graphics software that a graphic designer might use to create an instructional poster or film editing software to create a public service announcement. There are also tools that simply make the content more engaging and flexible. Using iPads to access the internet puts a wealth of knowledge and multimedia tools at the students’ fingertips. Instead of choosing a lecture or article for your students to read, you can use websites such as youtube.com and TedTalks EDU to allows students to select their own sources of information, based on their interests.
Not only does going paperless in the classroom mean the educators will save on materials (such as paper and pens etc) but it also means students will have opportunities to become more comfortable using digital tools. This will help prepare them for life in the 21st century in which digital literacy skills are valuable. Furthermore, students with special needs can use technology tools to help include them in the learning environment. A English Language Learner (ELL) can use an iPad equipped with Google Translate to understand read the content in their own language.
There are always downsides to integrating new technologies into classroom activities (including logistics and device management/charging) but they are usually worth the cost. Students of 2017 are eager to use tech tools and some even take them for granted. Because the students who attend SITP all qualify for free and reduced lunch, it cannot be taken for granted that they have access to such technologies at home. This makes it all the more important for our students to learn to use technology tools in effective and efficient ways.
Roblyer, M. (2016) Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th ed.). Pearson College Div.