Out of the Vacuum

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailjpgI recently received a blog article from ISTE about being prepared for tech month. Barry Bachenheimer wrote, “You can’t make decisions in a vacuum. You have to have a shared vision. Empowerment, assessment and engagement all require shared vision.” I began to think about my own experiences with integrating technology in education and what it means to be a transformational leader. Studies have show collaboration and professional development help hone the teacher’s skills and thrust 21st century learning in the classroom. However the people that need to be empowered are the students! How many times do we ask them about what technology they need or want or how it affects their lives? I asked my fifth grade students what they thought a digital classroom should be like, thinking about how we do things in our own classroom. I got out of my own vacuum and began to empower the young learners in my classroom, having them imagine what could be. So all you tech leaders out there who want to make changes listen up to a group of 5th graders who have some BIG ideas!

When you think about technology in the classroom what do you think about?

  • Electronics because our classroom has a lot of those such as computers, laptops, lights, the printer, microwave, and the SMARTboard.
  • Tools such as pencils, calculator, scissors, expo markers, sharpies, pencils, pens, erasers, tape, staplers, markers, glue sticks, chalk, and highlighters. (Not all technology is something plugged in rather a tool to make our lives easier!)
  • Google Drive, Prodigy, and discovery quests
  • Google Chrome and discovering new facts
  • Any machine that runs on power.
  • I think of inventors and how they changed our world.
  • The Internet as it is the main source where we can buy and talk about stuff.
  • I don’t think about technology unless I am designing something. It definitely helps us learn better.
  • Mobile devices and texting
  • How people invented all these creative ideas that changed the world
  • It is helpful to look things up and do projects.
  • Animation and any type of screens
  • I mostly think of video games.
  • Technology is things that I can make when I grow up.
  • I think about science and wonder how we will expand our current technology.

What kinds of technology should be in a classroom?

  • Calculators, pencils, mechanical pencils, scissors, lights, chalkboard, erasers, chalk, highlighters, computers, and a SMARTBoard
  • Math games and you need a school network
  • A keyboard and a mouse
  • Access to a document camera and a phone
  • Instead of books we should have Kindles and use laptops to do our homework on and tablets to use in school.
  • Desks, books, chairs, learning booklets, the room itself, folders, clock (both digital and face), projectors, nametags, cushioned reading chairs, lots of learning programs, writing supplies, and water fountain
  • CPUs, notebooks, clipboards, tape, and legos
  • Mobi views, flat screens, TV, X-box, and super computers

Think about your experiences with the Google Drive. What things do you love about that technology?

  • I love that I can share documents with people. I also love that I can share slideshows with people.
  • I love that you can do projects with it.
  • You can open it up anywhere and you can make anything on it.
  • I love that it has a big map so you can mark places you love, want to go, or to randomly find places you never knew about.
  • It has drawing, typing, and presentations you can use.
  • It makes organizing things simple. With Google Sheets you can send information with the click of a mouse.
  • I love that I can talk with my friends.
  • I love the way it is set up, well programmed, and you can give amazing presentations.
  • It is awesome that you can copy and paste images on things.
  • How you can make things spin and zoom on or off the screen! It takes normal things like drawing and writing to a computer.
  • You can insert an image or a link and you can underline, highlight, and bold type.
  • You can email, present, copy, and do just about anything!
  • If someone is in a different country you can talk to them!
  • You can put personal things on it.

If you could meet with the principal of the school and tell her how using technology effects your learning, what would you tell her?

  • Computers helped me learn things by searching things up on the Internet. I would also tell her an eraser helps me erase mistakes I write with a pencil.
  • Google Docs is a great way to learn!
  • It helps me because we wouldn’t be able to have Google Drive or get information online. And since the pencil is technology if we made a mistake you would not be able to erase it.
  • It tells you everything you want to know without thinking, but you learn!
  • Technology makes learning fun. It’s easy to use, and you can ask Google anything. (touché)
  • There are learning websites and then there are addicting websites!
  • Computers make everything from using the dictionary to learning math easier.
  • On the SMARTBoards we watch our math video and that definitely helps us learn.
  • It would be easier to do your homework on a laptop because you would never be able to do your homework on the bus and everyone always loses their homework so this saves it (So true- I am sure we have all lost things once in our lifetime)
  • It is one of the most important sources to learn something.
  • Every classroom should be as great as Ms. Freedman’s and she should inspect the class so other kids can actually like school.
  • There are many cool websites and apps to choose from and they help me improve on my math, spelling, and digital skills.
  • Since the world is getting more complex we need to know how to work with technology to get a job and learning at a young age will help us improve our skills later.
  • It effects learning greatly. It allows students to look up information quicker. It also lets students communicate when working on at home projects together.
  • I think it is a great experience for children. It makes projects easier and you can do it with classmates and work with each other. It has changed my thinking about Google. It is fun and has a lot of ways to do work.
  • Technology helps you remember things. It makes learning easier because if you didn’t write something down it would be hard to remember.
  • I like the SMARTBoard and the computers because all I have to do is listen.
  • It helps me with my schoolwork.
  • It gives students new experiences but can mess up your eyesight.
  • Technology is AWESOME!



About the Author: Rayna Freedman is beginning her 15th year at the Jordan/Jackson Elementary School in Mansfield, MA. She has taught grades 3-5 and is an ITS. She is also embarking on her doctorate through Northeastern as she hopes to change the field of education some day. Rayna is a member of the MassCUE Board of Directosr and has been presenting at the annual conference since 2010. She serves on the DESE Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards Panel and was the North Attleboro Chamber of Commerce Teacher of the Year in 2011.

For more articles by Ms. Freedman, she is published in Early Childhood Education Today 12th and 13th edition, Building Teachers: A Constructivist Approach to Introducing Education 2nd edition, and Fundamentals of Early Childhood Education 7th edition.

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