At one time there were chalkboards, and the teacher wrote information in white chalk, so that it stood out against the dark green or black background. Today’s classes probably have smartboards, which enable them and their students to interact and engage with the board in numerous ways. A pencil and paper were once standard fare, as well. That was education then, but learning has turned a corner. Technology has changed the landscape of the classroom today, and it may never be the same.
iPads are starting to emerge in classrooms. Before that it was PCs and laptops. Teachers can teach a lesson using all kinds of digital technology. This demands that they not only know and study the curriculum, they must know about different forms of technology and how to maximize them in the class. Consider the words spoken by John Dewey when he understood that the classroom would advance forward. “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow,” he cautioned.
Bell ringers, which are activities for children to start on upon entering the classroom, used to be projected onto a screen with a Buhl or similar projector. Now, teachers can go to various websites and find videos with short lesson activities that students can do by following a tutorial. This keeps the students busy while the teacher takes attendance.
Teaching vocabulary and spelling used to be an involved process. Sometimes the teacher would introduce the words on Monday or day one. For homework that day, students would write each word five times. On day two, the students’ homework might involve using each word in sentence. On day three they had to write the definitions. By Thursday they needed to study all that previous work in preparation for a spelling test to be taken the next day. This system was labor intensive and involved a lot of writing. Today, teachers are using sites like Spellingcity.com to mix things up. Students still have various forms of preparation for the spelling tests, but the options may include games, practice exercises and quizzes. On Dovewhisperer.com students can access vocabulary flashcards already created by others to help them prepare for tests and to incorporate the new vocabulary.
The volumes of encyclopedias that used to drive research have been replaced by internet search engines, and even digital encyclopedias.
Tests can be taken without a pen or pencil. In fact, with online learning, many students take their tests online and complete discussions and other assignments online.
Students today are blogging on subjects as part of the classroom assignment. They are also using podcasts, creating websites, taking virtual field trips and more. The integration of instruction with technology has been the driving force behind good instructional lesson planning for many years running. Furthermore, with common core curriculum, new testing protocol dictates that headphones be used. Headphones also show up in the classroom when students listen to taped lessons, practice vocabulary or listen to a recorded lesson from their teacher. It’s a whole new world.