Capturing the attention, imagination and motivation of students is one of the most critical components in the educational endeavor. But it’s also one of the most difficult to accomplish and sustain. In recent years, the competition from extracurricular activities, interactive games and television seem like co-conspirators, scheming to make the educators’ goals even more elusive.
Still, savvy educators are taking a cue from their competition. It’s clear that kids like to work and tackle challenges together, and they’re comfortable with tech tools and enjoy a real-time, results-oriented environment. And it’s obvious that strong production values can help get students to listen. Here’s how several educators are putting these new lessons to work.
Recognizing the power of interaction between both teacher-to-student and peer-to-peer relationships, Hinsdale High School in Hinsdale, Ill., is in the process of equipping its students and teachers with Tablet PCs. The handheld computers allow teachers to capitalize on teachable moments and dynamically present core curriculum learning. With the Tablets, students receive visual feedback on their writing assignments, while teachers gain the ability to create on-the-fly lessons that are quickly transmitted to their classes. For more on how this technology is transforming the learning curve, turn to p. 28.
Our cover story describes how some schools teach a myriad of critical thinking skills to students through oral history projects within their communities. In “Bringing the Past to the Present” on p. 32, we’ve talked to several schools about these dynamic projects that make exploring history a vibrant exercise for their students. We’ve also done an oral history of our own, interviewing Wilma Mae Groseclose Rector, an educator who taught at one of the last single-room schoolhouses in Missouri during her 42-year teaching career. You’ll find her story on p. 36.
In Tech Debate on p. 46, the technology director of a large public school and the president of small private school square off on the merits and return on investment of a wireless infrastructure. While the schools differ, their goals mirror each other: improving instruction and learning with technology. Both schools are betting wireless technology will increase student motivation, as well as achievement in core subjects and problem-solving skills.
Even as the role of technology expands to improve teaching and learning, all schools must look for new ways to to supplement their technology budgets. The state and federal budget cuts force schools to shoulder more of the burden for equipping their schools with technology learning tools. That’s why we’ve made the commitment to share not only why schools are expanding their technology tool chests, but also how they’ve managed the costs, found funding and gotten grants.
We know that the competition for an educator’s attention is steep. Thanks for checking out the latest issue of Ed Tech—we hope you find it worthwhile.
Editor in Chief