Thursday, December 1, 2011

Technology Integration

Over the course of this semester, I have learned how to effectively integrate technology into my future lesson plans.  I have discovered many cool ways to help students learn by use of technology.  I'm normally not a very "tech-savvy" person, but I have gotten the hang of a few different technology routes that will (hopefully) inspire students to delve into the topics that I will teach in my high school English classes. 

In my unit on Macbeth, I employ the use of virtual field trips, Pixton comic strips, Glogster glogs, and Classpress blogs. 
I really like the virtual field trip (done on PowerPoint) because it's so easy to do, and turns out to be very interesting if done well.  Basically for a virtual field trip, it is important that students feel like they're actually going somewhere.  It is not like a regular, possibly boring PowerPoint presentation.  The virtual field trip will have a cool background, lots of pictures, and links to YouTube videos and websites that will "take the students somewhere." The idea is to really hold the students' attention.

Pixton comic strips are so much fun! The options are endless with Pixton.  To be honest, I didn't like Pixton much at first, but as I got into my projects for class, I started to enjoy it a lot more.  The thing about Pixton is, it allows for so much creativity.  You can go on Pixton and choose different characters and modify them as much as you want.  You can have different settings and objects in your comic strips.  For my unit, I will assign students a Pixton project.  They will have to make a comic that reflects some type of knowledge of Macbeth.  It can be set in modern day, since most backgrounds and characters on Pixton are modern-looking. 

In my opinion, Glogster is the very easiest type of educational technology that we have learned to use so far.  It is designed so that younger kids can do it, and I think that high schoolers would have a lot of fun doing it as well.  Glogs are basically posters that you can create online, and add pictures, little clip arts, sounds, text, etc.  There are so many possibilities.  For Macbeth, the students will be required to create a glog that has pictures of a few of the characters with the names of each, decorative images placed nicely on the glog, and a title. 

My favorite use of technology integration for classes is blogging.  In high school, I had teachers that asked us to freewrite journal entries to get us thinking as a warm-up before the lessons.  I enjoyed that, and also reflecting in journal entries after the lessons.  I think that many students, like me, enjoy giving their feedback on lessons via journal entries, and many would rather journal online in a blog.  The blogs can be private so that other students cannot read them, or they can be public so that the students can read each others' blogs and share ideas.  My favorite online journal for teachers and students is Classpress, but I also really enjoy Blogger.  The main difference is that Classpress is much more geared toward education.  In my lesson, I will have students blog on Classpress about what they learn in Macbeth as we go throughout the play.

Blogging by Classpress

The growing world of technology continues to open doors to new ways to learn.  As technology grows and changes, teachers must be willing to do the same.  As much as I love the good old-fashioned pen and paper, I have had a great time getting to know these different learning technologies. 

English is a subject that technology can really influence, with the emergence of iPads, Kindles, online journals and reading materials, etc.  It seems like everything is headed towards online reading and learning, and physical books are starting to collect dust.  Hopefully they will not become obsolete.  I think that it's good to have a balance of technology and old-fashioned learning.  Technology, if handled correctly, can definitely be our friend.

As a high school English teacher, I will have many opportunities to put my new technology skills to use, and hopefully my students will benefit greatly!