Lindsay Sereika teaches science at North Olmsted Middle School in Ohio. This year, she found herself with a new tool - Chromebooks for her classroom. This meant new potential for checking in on how everyone was doing in real-time and changing her instruction to match her students’ needs.
Lindsay says she sees technology becoming a more integrated part of the classroom - not something extra that is tacked on, nor a digital replacement for all classroom functions. We talked about this, as well as what she’s learned through implementing classroom tech, how it’s worked for her, and what gets her students excited to learn.
Tell us about your classroom and your classroom technology.
I teach 8th grade science and have been trying to integrate technology more and more through the years. This past school year our science department decided to go with an online textbook so we were able to get Chromebooks to use in the classroom. This has been a huge help in transforming my teaching to allow me the means to help engage students with technology, as well as changing how I structure the class.
We use Chalkup to collaborate and organize the classroom digitally, online sites to create products (emaze, Prezi, Animoto, Voki, etc.), do formative checks (Socrative) and summative assessments (Schoolnet), send out information (Youtube, Remind) and research, and more. I have been dabbling in the idea of a flipped classroom, making videos for notes and lab directions. I also use Evernote, Google Drive, and Dropbox for myself personally to keep myself organized digitally as well as collaborate with colleagues.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve been able to do with Chalkup or any other classroom technology?
I love the ability to instantly get information from students using technology. I’ve used Chalkup for quick checks on what students know about topics before we start a unit. Socrative is a great site (and others like it) to quickly get information for formative checks. It’s given me an easy way to check student learning without having to take a bunch of papers home, gives the quiet students a chance and the responsibility to respond, and is usually more interesting for students than just a paper-pencil type activity.
It also allows me the chance to be flexible and make changes quickly that I might not be able to do with a paper assessment. Getting real-time information can help me make decisions about my instruction on the spot, while also keeping a record of the student responses digitally.
What’s one thing teachers who are looking to implement new digital systems should keep in mind?
It can be overwhelming at first, but start with something small and commit to just diving in. There WILL be snags and challenges, but luckily a lot of kids are flexible and resilient to those things with technology and many can even help you and other students. This is especially true once everyone has gotten into a groove of working with the technology and if you work to build a collaborative classroom environment; students know to just jump in and help if someone asks them or even if they see another student struggling.
Also, although I suggest to committing to trying something, be aware and accept the fact that you don’t have to commit to something digital forever; try it, see how it works for you and your students, and give it a little time. If it isn’t something you see being beneficial or you find something that you think might work better, go for it! No one says you have to stay married to a particular digital medium for something. There is so much out there and guaranteed something for everyone.
Where do you see technology taking classes in the future? What’s your vision?
In the future, I see technology becoming more of an integrated part of school and not just an addition. It should be a tool to help students not just have access to knowledge but to learn how to ask questions, find answers, and create products and share ideas. I don’t think it should replace everything that people have done in the past but I see things that have been done being updated to a digital format as well as a lot of teachers starting to change their practice. I don’t mean that students should sit quietly every day on computers not interacting face-to-face, but rather that technology should be a large piece of the puzzle in getting students to collaborate, share, and research appropriately.
I am hoping to work toward facilitating more and more and working to improving as a guide to instruction, including using technology to offer options to students for differentiating.
On a less personal level but an important one, I also hope that it’s possible for schools to get technology more affordably. Technology is in our future and it’s sad to me that so many schools and districts are so disproportionately equipped with technology. All students should have the opportunity to learn how to be appropriate digital citizens and have the opportunities that come from having technology readily on hand.
What gets your students excited to learn? What do we have to do to get even more students excited to learn?
In science, doing experiments and labs with actual materials is exciting to my students and gets them moving and working. Additionally, working digitally motivates them as well. For both of these, anything associated with a challenge or problem seems to be the motivation that adds an additional layer of interest in student learning.
Having the ability to share ideas and be heard excites them, too. In general, finding a way to allow students a voice, to do and try things on their own by giving them resources and tools to be independent, and giving them the opportunity for choice are all things I try to consider (I don’t always succeed but I keep these ideas in my mind as I plan and work with students).
At this stage, I think educators need to start considering how kids of this generation are different learners and engagers of the world around them, now that they are inundated with technology as compared with previous generations. Knowing how they operate in the digital and non-digital world and meeting them there is the first thing educators need to start doing. Students are different than in the past and we need to start trying new things as the digital world continues to increase in its presence and capabilities.