Last Friday a colleague emailed me asked what would I say are the three best pieces of technology available to teachers? These questions really gave me pause to think about the technology I deal with everyday as an Instructional Technologist responsible for training teachers in the latest technology we have available. If I went back to the classroom tomorrow and was told I could take any three pieces of technology with me, what would I take?
In my response I assumed I would have a computer in my classroom with a high speed Internet connection and unlimited bandwidth. I would make sure that as the teacher I would have a laptop loaded with all the software I would need. With that in mind, here were my choices.
1. A ceiling mounted LCD projector. Having a LCD fundamentally changed the way I taught when I was in the classroom. I could bring in images, videos, simulation, and all kinds of interactive media to enhance my presentations and capture the attention of students. I had to rearrange my classroom, string cables and extension cords to get everything to work but it was worth it. Having a mounted projector would just make everything easier and neater.
2. A student response clicker system ranks side by side with the LCD projector. I used everything from thumbs up/thumbs downs to individual chalkboard to help me assess the learning and understanding of my students before, after, and during a lesson. A RF clicker system like Senteo, CPS, or Turning Point not only makes gathering this information easier, it also records the information so I can track each student’s progress. It would vital to readjusting individual lesson, or unit scope and sequencing to best meet my student’s needs. It would also allow me to track all students, reducing those students that never bring any attention to themselves but struggle with achievement. I want all my students to be successful and I want to know when they are getting it and when they need more help before the summative assessment is given.
3. An Interactive white board. If I was teaching elementary school, I would want a SmartBoard (paired with Senteo clickers) and if I was back in middle or high school I would want an Interwrite Board (paired with CPS clickers). Why the different configurations? The SmartBoard allows students to interact using their fingers. This tactile interaction is great for younger students. I like the Interwrite board because you have to use a pen device but with it you have much more precision because of a greater output resolution. This is very helpful when working with spreadsheets and other programs that require more precision. The Interwrite boards are very durable. This is important in middle school and high school where students often underestimate their strength. I have used both boards (and teach others both software packages) and both are fine products. I firmly believe that the use of an interactive board increasing time on task and enthusiasm for learning. Our students enter school with the concept that learning is also entertaining. Think of all the educational shows and programs for preschool students. We need to use this concept to continue the engagement of our students in the learning process.
So here are my three choices. I would love to hear what you think are best tools for a teachers right now.