Student Technology Use in the Classroom- 2012 Workshop

Presenter: Kristin Thomas

Teachers who have been teaching for a while, and teachers who may have only been teaching a few years, are finding themselves in an educational landscape that is changing dramatically.  The educational system that we have been educated in, trained in, and practiced in is going the way of the saber-toothed tiger; tigers still exist, they just don’t exist in the same genetic code as their predecessors.

At the heart of this change is technology.  Technology, whether you love it or hate it, has fundamentally changed the students we teach.  The students of the next generation are no longer tolerant of the methodologies of the past.  They demand that we shift our thinking about how people become educated and what the purpose of that education is.

Students have relegated school to the realm of the archaic—it is not relevant to their real lives—and in many ways they are correct.  Their real lives are centered on communication with their peers and the use of their technology.  One way to recapture students, and reenergize the school environment is to use technology as the tools they were meant to be.


Cell Phone Activity

The most powerful interface between students and technology is in the form of their phones.  Most high school students have a phone that will text and take pictures, and many have phones with processors that rival a desktop computer.  They are wired, and they love their technology.

One of the greatest challenges in teaching is to build relationships with and engage the learners in our classroom.  If teachers begin using the thing that students love to help them see the value of the content, the engagement and the relationship become much easier.

However, it is difficult to incorporate technology and cell phones in particular, into the curriculum without making it a distracter or merely a gimmick.  In order for technology use in education to be transformative—to make learning more authentic for students—the technology must be used to advance the thinking necessary for students to fully engage with the content.


Classroom Engagement via Text

  • Socrative
  • Poll Everywhere
  • Remind 101


Technology and the Writing Classroom

Ultimately, what we want is more student engagement and more authentic ways of assessing student thinking.  When we problematize the content, create need-to-know scenarios, and open up the community, students will happily take on the hard work necessary to get the job done.  They will work with the standards to accomplish the task.


Multi-Modal Synthesis

One way to engineer the crossroad of need and rigor is to introduce students with a problem they must solve or a product that they must create.

As a teacher, I want my students to read difficult text and demonstrate understanding; our students have far too few opportunities to read technical writing.  The assignment is for students to read several articles on a scientific subject, the past two years I have had students read about the importance of sleep.  They must then take the information that is presented in the articles, synthesize at least three of the articles and create a presentation using some form of technology that is suitable for a ninth grade audience.

They had to organize, outline, take notes, and communicate ideas clearly to a live audience using technology of their choice.


Shafinaz Ahmed, et al. “Globalism And Multimodality In A Digitized World.” Pedagogy 10.1 (2010): 55-68. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 July 2012.