This article compiles examples of how classroom teachers are using technology to further learning. Included among the case studies is a group of Minnesota third-graders who are using technology to compete in educational games with other students worldwide. The exercise has led to improved achievement in reading and math. In a San Francisco classroom, chemistry students are greeted each day by a text message asking them a challenge question related to what they will learn that day.

Starting the year off with ideas on the best ways to use technology to support learning, Larry Ferlazzo collected an invaluable list of criteria last year from educators, to which he added more resources in his recent blog post for EdWeek.  Other posts in the series include Using Ed Tech to Create Deep and Meaningful Experiences and Effective Ways of Using Tech in the Classroom. Here is MindShift’s contribution to the collection of ideas.

1.  GAMES AND GROUP WORK.

For those wondering what a game-based classroom looks like in a traditional school, take a peek into Ananth Pai’s third-grade class in Parkview/Center Point Elementary school in Maplewood, Minnesota. Using his own money and grants that he applied for, Pai has managed to round up seven laptops, two desktops 11 Nintendo DS’s, 18 games for math, reading, vocabulary, geography, and 21 digital voice recorders. Students’ reading and math scores went from below average for third grade to mid-fourth-grade level. Students compete in games with other kids across the world, learn about fractions and decimals by riding a virtual ghost train, for instance, work on their reading skills on sites like Razkids, figure out whether they can make a living by growing flowers, learn about their constitutional rights with the Go to Court Game, and so on.

2.  LEARNING LATIN.

Teacher Kevin Ballestrini turned his introductory Latin class at Connecticut’s Norwich Free Academy into an alternate reality with an online video game. The students’ job: to save the world by joining a shadowy organization on a quest to find the Lapis Saecul?rum that was part of an Ancient Roman society. “It’s a mix of a role-playing game and an alternate reality game,” Ballestrini says. Students play the role of Romans in a reconstruction of ancient Pompeii (or ancient Rome) and have to learn to think, act, create and write like a Roman in order to win the game. And those are the same goals of any introductory Latin course.

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