Article courtesy of Gannett via “The Rundown”
Walking into Cindy Mischler’s middle school English class today feels very different than it did just a few short years ago. As students prepare to read “Catcher in the Rye” or “Huckleberry Finn,” instead of pulling out paperback books, students read the classics on a smattering of laptops, cell phones, Kindles and tablet computers.
The technologies allows students to pin notes to a page, to click on words to quickly look them up, and to easily pick up where they left off. But some students still prefer to read on a device without batteries.
Technology is playing an ever-increasing role in the education system – and educators are still figuring out how to utilize the technology to best suit student learning. According to McKinely Academy Principal Kristin Lee, who also serves as the Manitowoc district’s instruction technology coordinator, technology in the classroom has advanced more in the last 10 years than in the last 100, and educators are working to implement those changes in ways that provide students with learning opportunities that prepare them for real-world jobs.
“We’re trying to prepare our kids for living and working in today’s world,” Lee said. “It’s not about the technology, it’s about the learning opportunities, the opportunities to access information, to connect with others, to collaborate with others beyond our school walls. It’s learning anytime, anywhere.”
A tool, not a goal
Lee stressed that educators have to stop thinking of technology as a tool to produce presentations and write papers, and start thinking of technology, such as the new laptops, as tools to start conversations, find answers, take action and drive change.
“The focus isn’t really on the device, by giving the kid access to the computer your giving them access to the world,” Lee said. “We’re really looking to move people’s mindset from, not necessarily what can I do with technical skills, but to what opportunities are available to students now because of this technology.”
Lisa Quistorf, principal at L.B. Clarke Middle School in Two Rivers, said technology enables access to a vast amount of instant information that was not easily available before.
“As a teacher, it provides more,” Quistorf said. “When I taught twenty-some years ago, a student would ask me a question and I would say ‘I don’t know the answer to that, but I can find out. (…) Now, if a student has a question, you can really answer right away, which I think is huge in peaking interested in getting students engaged.”
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