Going Paperless: A New Classroom Trend?

Project Tomorrow is a nonprofit that gives students a voice on the education they are receiving. This organization hosts the Speak Up Research Project which polls teachers, students, and parents to see how technology is being integrated into classrooms and what these people think about it. Whether we like it or not, the Speak Up Project has been finding a lot of data that suggests we could be seeing heavily digital-based classroom sooner than we think.

While some are not comfortable with the idea of videos and online games taking over our children’s education, Speak Up claims that this is a process that has been seen throughout education. The first technological advancement started when the oral tradition of storytelling was taken over by Plato and his written stories. All of these processes started out the same, with a sense of fear. Eventually, just as written stories took over oral stories, these once feared ideas become the way of life.

The Speak Up findings help to “connect the digital dots for learning.” Their findings do this by “mapping a personalized learning journey and moving from chalkboards to tablets as part of a digital conversion effort.” In these findings it seems that a majority of educational leaders and principals are on board with technology integrated classroom, seeing them as “key drivers to increasing student achievement.” However one thing that is slowing this process down is individual teachers and them not wanting to differentiate and add technology into their lesson.


There were a couple of facts that helped me think about how I would integrate technology into my classroom. The first thing I saw is the fact that elementary school students were more likely to use game based learning. They had the highest percentage of users. With that being said as an elementary school teacher I will try to use a lot of this strategy to help increase my student’s achievement. I think playing a game can better motivate students, as well as keep them more entertained and involved than a black and white book may.

Another statistic that stood out to me was, “scientists say that human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text.” Giving students more picture and video based examples is proven to help children process information better. In my instruction, even if I am given written instructions, I am going to put pictures next to them to help students really process what they are being asked to do.

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“Five Myths About Classroom Technology (And What To Do, Instead)”

I recently read the article “Five Myths About Classroom Technology (And What To Do, Instead).” This article discusses some common misunderstandings people have about implementing technology into classrooms. When technology is taught and and added into classrooms correctly these myths can be avoided and students can become successful.

Myth 1: “Technology fixes all of you or your students’ problems.” 

Not true, technology is just another tool in the tool box. It is just another resource. Technology is only super helpful for certain jobs or lessons. Misuse of it can deter away from the goal of your lesson.

Myth 2: “Technology is dangerous, so we have to limit access to everything.”

The only danger that comes from technology comes from “misuse and poor choices.”We should only limit access to those who are not well informed on what is out there. But children usually have unlimited access at home which is where misuse can begin. Rather than restrict students, we should properly train students how to successfully search the internet and how to use technology.

Myth 3: “Technology leads to student success- just look at the data!” 

There has been a lot of gathered data, but that does not necessarily mean that it is leading to student success. Rather than just repeating facts to get to the next level and improve test scores, students need to use technology to lead to creative learning.

Myth 4: “Educational gaming improves student achievement.”

The article states, “many educational games are mere “guess-the-answer” or “point-and-click” data-collecting tools that really do not engage students in creative learning.” This point is very important for teachers to remember when choosing the games our students play. As teachers we should find more games that ask students to create things rather than just guess the answers.

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Myth 5: “Technology is less meaningful than traditional learning.”

Another great point the article makes is, “a classroom demonstrating best tech practices would have students collaborating and sharing, not drooling and staring.” As teachers, we should use technology to allow students more opportunities to connect and collaborate.

Teachers have a great opportunity to train students how to properly use technology. We first must understand how to properly implement it into our lessons in order to reach higher level thinking.



Picture from: https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-05-07-five-myths-about-classroom-technology-and-what-to-do-instead

Article found at: https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-05-07-five-myths-about-classroom-technology-and-what-to-do-instead


“The Destruction of the K-12 Teacher” in Review

The Atlantic posted an article discussing how the classroom, as well as the teachers role, will be changing with all the new technology implemented. A big take home from this article, “The Destruction of the K-12 Teacher”, is that the teachers role is changing from an expert instructor to simply, a facilitator. It is said that a teacher should transfer from being a “sage on the stage” to being “a guide on the side.” With the immediate and unlimited resources found online, it seems crazy not to take advantage and learn from them.

The classroom is being transformed to a majority of it online. The lessons are now not always being taught by teachers, rather a good video from a top educator who can explain the content in a better way. Videos can come from Khan Academy, TED talks, or flipped classroom videos found on YouTube. It was also found that most of the American pubic will support this technology integrated system because the lessons will be the most interesting and efficient in the world, it will save millions of dollars because teacher salaries will be lowered, testing data can be developed immediately, and equity in the public school system will be achieved. The picture below show what a technology-based class will look like, with the teacher as a facilitator. Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 1.32.21 PM.png



A survey completed in 2013 by Project Tomorrow found that 41% of administrators say “pre-service teachers should learn how to set up a flipped class model before getting a teaching credential,” and 66% of principals say “pre-service teachers should learn to create and use video and other digital media.” This was in 2013, I would imagine the numbers have grown even more now that we see greater amounts of technology in the classroom. There has also been educational resources that have grown to millions of viewers on their websites. The Clayton Christensen Institute found the number of K-12 students who took an online course increased from about 45,000 in 2000, to more than 3 million in 2009. “The institute also projects that half of all high-school classes will be delivered online by 2019.” With all of the resources available online, there is no reason why they should not be in the classroom. The Edmodo CEO  said, “We want to do for teacher resources what Netflix does for movies.”All of the teacher websites are supplying dozens of resources, lesson plans, videos, and assessment for each lesson.

My biggest take away from this lesson was that teachers and students are looking to do whatever is easiest. It is so much easier to Google a lesson topic and find others resources and ideas than it is to create your own lesson. While this is a great way to find resources and materials, I do not know if I agree that classes are better online. I think it is good to watch a video to teach a student the basics, but I think students need that in-person help and ability to do things in person. For example, I am currently taking a Geology class online. While I do like the online components, I do not think I am learning and retaining as much information as I could if I was actually in the lab doing experiments. Much of the class has online interactive labs or readings of certain rocks. I think I would do much better if I was actually feeling the rocks and running experiments on them myself. Now I know each learner is different, so some students may greatly benefit from learning online. However, I don’t think a teacher will ever be able to completely change over to the role of “facilitator” because students need that human interaction and in-person engagement.

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Lets Talk About Equity in the Classroom.

Dictionary.com recognizes the word equity to mean “the quality of being fair or impartial; fairness; impartiality.” In the classroom equity plays a crucial, yet difficult role to fulfill for each student. Especially as technology continues to advance, making sure each student receives the same digital education is important. The Huffington Post posted an article discussing this “digital divide” and how it effects students with in a lower income family.

“Digital Divide Is ‘Major Challenge’ In Teaching Low Income Students, Survey Finds” stated that only 3% of low income students have access to internet at home. With this being said many of these students “get creative” by doing their homework on free wifi at Starbucks or McDonalds. A broadband connection can cost anywhere from $38 to $80 depending on a families location, which can be a great deal to pay on top of all of their other bills. With this being said, there is an added stress to students, parents, and teachers when it comes to homework and achieving higher levels of thinking.

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As a future teacher, I think I would attempt to create the greatest level of equity in the classroom by providing students enough time in class to do any Internet-based work they have before going home. I think it is also a good idea to make sure any internet-based work or resources you use are available in the same format on smartphones. That way if students do not have computers or laptops, they can access it on a phone. Now if students do not have access to a computer or a smartphone, I would try to give them time to stay after school and use the schools resources so that they can learn the same way their peers are.

Equity today is a hard thing to balance. Many school districts and counties are trying to find the greatest way to ensure technology equity so that all student have equal access to learning resources. As teachers, we must find creative ways to involve all of our students and attempt to rid the digital divide.

Article found at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/28/digital-divide-low-income-students_n_2782528.html?view=screen

Additional resources on the digital divide:



“Salman Khan: Let’s use video to reinvent education”

I recently watched Salman Khan’s, the creator of Khan Academy, TED talk: “Let’s use video to reinvent education.” For those of you who do not know the Khan Academy creates a variety of videos teaching different mathematic lessons. Salman Khan started making these videos originally just for his cousins who needed help with math, but lived in a different state. After posting these videos to Youtube he received random feedback from people saying how much the videos helped them. As the videos became more and more popular, there was more demand to create these videos across all areas of math. Today there are over 2,200 videos that cover a great variety of math ranging from basic arithmetic to complex trigonometry.

The Khan Academy sees over a million students a month. Salman believes that these videos are watched so much because you are able to watch them at your own time and pace. If you don’t understand something, you don’t have to be embarrassed to go back and rewatch what was said. One thing I really liked that he said was they are removing the “one size fits all” type lecture and creating a “self-paced” lecture. I believe it is important that each student can go at their own pace and completely master the content.

Another example Salman used that I think is a good way to look at education was the example of riding a bicycle. Because teachers just teach the lesson, test, and move on to the next lesson, small gaps of missed information can turn into a bigger struggle when the material becomes tougher. Khan says, it would be like a kid riding a bike at 80% and giving them the B and telling them to go ride a unicycle now. If we just teach and don’t pay attention to the work that students struggle with, when they get to riding the unicycle it will be a lot harder. Through the Khan Academy videos, we allow students to fill in the gaps where they may not understand.

Another interesting aspect of Khan Academy is it allows teacher to see what content each student is struggling with. The Khan Academy gives students quizzes after each lesson and teachers can see which parts they stumbled over and how long it took them. He said that with his videos, he has seen break throughs in students. Students who may be labeled “slow”, after six weeks with the videos and individualized learning, are greatly excelling.

The last thing, Salman talked about that I thought was very interesting was how the videos are “humanizing the classroom.” They are giving the teachers to walk around and work individually with students, rather than up at the board the whole time. The videos also allow more peer to peer tutoring by pairing up those greatly excelling and grasping the material with those having a tougher time. Overall Mr. Khan hopes to create the notion of a global one world classroom, where students can help each other, no matter where they are located.

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Visit the Khan Academy at: https://www.khanacademy.org

TED Talk can be watched at: http://www.ted.com/talks/salman_khan_let_s_use_video_to_reinvent_education#t-65002


Review of BAM! Radio

For my Computers and Technology class, I was asked to listen to a podcast on BAM! Radio and review how I felt about using a podcast for the learning profession in the future. I listened to a podcast called, “Sparking Creativity and Curiosity in Students, Classrooms, and Schools.” This podcast was a group of different educators from around the United States who work together under the Initiative Teachers Guild, mainly through social media, to collaborate and test out new ideas for the classroom. On this podcast, it was “connective educator month”and they were talking about all the resources they use to connect with teachers to create new ways to spark creativity in students in every classroom. A lot of their collaboration comes on Twitter, if you would like to see some of their ideas search #daretodesign.

As for using podcasts in my professional learning future, I think I would for my personal use, but not in the classroom. I learned a lot in the short ten minute podcast about materials I could use to expand my teaching knowledge. However, in the short ten minutes, there were some times I was sidetracked. I think students, especially at the elementary level, need a picture or many pictures to engage their listening.

If there was a podcast I thought my students would enjoy and learn from, I may add a sideshow so they had pictures to follow while listening. In the podcast they mentioned that “every teacher is a designer” I think this is a perfect way to describe how teachers adapt their lessons in order for each student to grasp on to the material. I think being a designer is a good way to describe how I would try to implement the podcasts, by designing something similar to a movie.



Picture from: https://www.buzzsprout.com/blog/2015/01/15/mobile-learning

Review of Powtoon

In my Computers and Technology class we were asked to review an educational program and I chose Powtoon. I chose this program because it was one I had never heard of or worked with before and I thought the concept was very interesting. The motto of this program is “brings awesomeness to your presentation” and it does just that! This program allows students and teachers to bring their presentations to life through animations, music, and moving words.

When I first went to the webpage I was asked to make an account and select my purpose for using the site (education). By choosing education I was directed to a page with examples of templates used for educational purposes. One that stood out to me, that I thought would be great to use for my classroom was a “teacher introduction” template. I feel like this would be a fun way to immediately grab my students attention from the very first day.

Being that this was my first time using this website, I was a little confused with how it all worked. Before even beginning they give you a brief introduction on how things work and where tools are located. One thing that I really like was that they have a “simple mode” and a “customize mode.” This separates a basic template from all of the complex tools that may be hard to understand on your first try. The simple mode essentially gives you the whole video with some fill in the blanks, such as your name or what you plan to teach. Below is the start to the basic introduction video I started. On this page I was allowed to choose the font, input my name or change what it said, change the character or what she was doing, add music or a voiceover, and many more.

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This was just one template of many! Another one that I saw that would be neat was a Syllabus template. For most students reading through the syllabus can be boring and repetitive. By using this template you can bring it to life and make it a very memorable template. They also have a blank template, which allows you to be creative and put your own spin on things. I think this program has a lot to offer and is a great way to bring your classroom to life. All teachers should try it out or give their students the opportunity to explore this program.