This posting was originally posted by Education World and can be found HERE:
Technology can be used to engage students in ways that other tools cannot. So what are the most fun or creative ways principals have seen teachers use the technology they have at hand? That’s the question we asked the principals who comprise our “Principal Files” team.
How is technology integration going in your school? Are you happy with the progress your teachers are making as they strive to work technology into their curricula in meaningful ways?
Education World recently asked our “Principal Files” team members to share with us some of the best uses of technology they have seen in their schools. The principals shared how impressed they are with the creativity they’ve seen teachers use. Many lessons that employ technology have gotten students excited and engaged about learning. Other lessons add simple elements of fun or learning that would not be otherwise possible. And one use of technology ensures that students will perform better on annual achievement tests.
TECHNOLOGY BOOSTS LEARNING
At Orchard Hill Elementary School in South Windsor, Connecticut, principal Bridget Braney reports that staff members have made great strides in their use of technology. “The number of projects and applications integrated into curriculum is almost too overwhelming,” Braney told Education World. The best part, she says, is that “their efforts have been motivated by a desire to improve instruction, not simply to prove they know how to use the technology tools. They have been working to integrate technology because it supports good teaching.”
“Technology use is becoming commonplace throughout our school,” added Michael Miller, principal at Saturn Elementary School in Cocoa, Florida. “As part of our district’s strategic plan, teachers are evaluated according to levels of technology implementation. My teachers are at or above the standards the district have adopted.”
Up the road at Doctors Inlet Elementary School in Middleburg, Florida, principal Larry Davis said that progress in using technology was a little slow at first. Davis realized that the teachers were overwhelmed by all the technology related in-service opportunities that were presented. Another problem was that the in-services were held after school when teachers were the most tired, he said. So he came up with a plan that he felt would be more productive for teachers.
“We arranged for a half-day training session for all the teachers,” Davis explained. “We released them during the school day and hired a substitute to cover their classes so they would not be interrupted for 3 hours.
“The half-day session gave teachers time to focus when they had the energy to do it. We trained them to be familiar with the all the software available to them. They got to try out that software and to ask any questions they had regarding its use in the classroom.”
The plan has paid off, Davis added. “Just the other day I saw one third-grade teacher using PowerPoint to present a lesson. In another third-grade class, students were using a program called Fonts 4 Teachers. The children were writing in print form and they watched as the program translated it to cursive.”
In addition, every student at Doctors Inlet uses theReading Counts program each day. Students read books and take Reading Counts tests online. And they do it without assistance, said Davis. “The program tracks the students’ points, which they can ‘cash in’ for prizes,” he explained. “It also provides the teacher with a diagnostic tool for helping students who are having difficulty with reading comprehension.”
WORD PROCESSING & OTHER SOFTWARE
Opportunities to integrate technology stretch across the grades and the curriculum. The variety of tools at teachers’ fingertips help them integrate technology in many ways. At Orchard Hill Elementary, students use word processing and presentation software programs for many different educational purposes. Bridget Braney told us about of a handful of those uses:
Students in every grade at ……