11 January 2010 11:01 AM

Learning and Technology

by Dr. Rick

Our latest guest blogger is a respected old friend, Emily Levitt.  Emily's an educator with lots of experience teaching writing.  She's taught middle schoolers, worked for education companies like McGraw Hill, Scranton, Plato Learning, Sylvan Learning, and Handwriting Without Tears, where she's now a Senior Curriculum Designer.


Emily is a member of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).  She received a B.A. in Secondary English Education from the University of Maryland, College Park, and an M.S. in Professional Writing from Towson University.


Embracing Tech in the Classroom


Teachers are quickly coming to the realization that today’s crop of students are “digital natives.”  They aren’t intimidated by technology, and have no problem jumping feet-first into the electronic unknown. In this spirit, some innovative teachers have found ways to take everyday technologies and repurpose them for the classroom.




There’s no shortage of education-related websites on the Internet.  Finding quality sites, however, can be challenging.  Two fun sites that support reading skills are Starfall and PBS Kids.  Both of these sites are easy for young students to navigate independently, and are engaging enough that kids won’t feel like they’re doing schoolwork.


Teachers of older students have started to embrace social networking sites like Facebook for class assignments.  These sites offer a mix of tools that make it easy for teachers and students to communicate and collaborate. It also gives the teacher an opportunity to teach students about safe and responsible social networking skills.


Discussion boards

Pose questions about assignments from teacher to student, or student to student.  Participate in full-class discussions.

Photo galleries

Post photos of class projects, field trips, or other activities.

Live chat

Teachers can offer a “homework help hour” after school for student questions.

Notes page

Post project directions, homework assignments, class notifications, and updates.

Collaboration pages

Participate in group assignments.



Apple’s iTunes music store has gone educational.  It now offers a store channel titled “iTunesU”, where thousands of podcasts, videos, recorded lectures, study tips, and other educational content are available for free.  Students only need an mp3 player and an iTunes account to start downloading.  Resources are posted for K – 12 and for the university level.  Students can download everything from second grade grammar tips to lectures on quantum mechanics from Oxford University.


Cell Phones


Teachers are often engaged in a never-ending battle over cell phones in the classroom.  A few teachers have harnessed the power of cell phones and texting for class activities.  With texting, teachers can communicate homework reminders and field short student questions.  Other teachers have used cells phones to send students on educational scavenger hunts. Students explore the school’s library, art room, or music room, taking pictures of their discoveries with the cell phone’s camera and texting them to the teacher.


Digital Cameras


Cameras are for more than family vacation photos. Students capture pictures for class projects or the class website.  Science teachers turn students into outdoor researchers by sending them on a photo safari of insects, plants, or birds.  Students can then easily turn the photos into a report or project on local plant or animal life, or even a study of the environment around the school.


The primary goal of education is to make children confident explorers of the world outside of the classroom.  Providing students with frequent and engaging experiences with technology will enable an enriching future for all.


For more information about education and technology, visit NAEYC’s Position Statement on Technology and Young Children.





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