I started in a middle school that did not have much in the way of technology. Each classroom had a projector; most were not mounted initially, which would project on a pull-down screen or a dry erase board. In the last year or two, we all got interactive boards to boost the technology at each campus. After a few years in a social studies classroom, I got the opportunity to transition to an Exploring Careers and Professional Communication classes. These classes had never been offered in the district before. That means there was no set curriculum for the courses. As part of my transition, I wanted to get a classroom with desktop PCs to try out in regular coursework. Before this, computer labs had only been used in technology courses.
I was interested in trying them as a tool for learning in a class that was not about technology. I designed each assignment, project, and assessment around using the technology. Students went from me handing them information to looking up their information. I was able to give them choices on what they wanted to do. No more limits of resources I could print out or find in a book. They had an entire wealth of knowledge at their fingertips.
Assignments transformed from fill out this worksheet, write out your definitions, or take this test to create this project, research your own ideas, and present your work. The topics we studied have some basic ideas that were part of the standards, but I had the freedom to add in their interests. As part of a unit on entrepreneurship, students completed a project that had them start a summer business. They were tasked with finding the start-up costs from supply lists generated, setting up a marketing plan, setting their prices, and conducting market research.
The student engagement and collaboration instantly made me a believer. I went from the expert handing them the information to a guide helping them through the parts of the project as they needed it. The technology in the classroom transformed the learning and allowed the students to do the driving toward a goal I set up, but they chose the path. Everyone had the same destination, a presentation to the class pitching their business, but each group took vastly different paths to get there. From then on, I looked for ways to create that type of learning in my classroom. I wanted the students to be the leaders, and I wanted to be on the side, helping them to their own discoveries.