Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

If We Had Then What We Have Now: Today's Technology Tools Would Have Made My Foray into Teaching a Lot More Successful

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

If We Had Then What We Have Now: Today's Technology Tools Would Have Made My Foray into Teaching a Lot More Successful

Article excerpt

AS AN EDUCATION MAJOR, I spent my senior year of college student-teaching. I didn't have access to the whiz-bang tools of today--electronic whiteboards, laptops, and the like--but I was able to discover the power of technology in the classroom. For that lesson, I have one student in particular to thank. His unwitting demonstration of the motivational power of technology got my attention, but the setting of the story was key to its impact on me.

The scene was a bleak inner-city high school, a far cry from the wealthy, white-bread neighborhood I was raised in. When I met my class of 10th-graders, it was all I could do to pretend that seeing pregnant teenagers and kids with rap sheets was nothing out of the ordinary for me. Then came the challenge of meeting the needs of five new students classified as emotionally handicapped.

Fortunately, my internship allowed me time to observe the lead teacher. I picked up cues from her, but I thought she was boring the kids because the lessons were so rudimentary. When I had a turn at the helm, though, I saw the relevance--these students ranged from functionally illiterate to, tops, what would consider seventh-grade level.

Barely recovered from culture shock, had to adjust my expectations again. had to scrap my "high school-level" lesson plans and more classroom management from the bottom of my list of priorities to the top. And I knew if I didn't make classtime engaging, I didn't have a chance of reaching anyone.

I found ways to spice up remedial English. The best results came from a quiz-show format that the lead teacher and I used to disguise spelling and basic grammar drills, Our motley crew stayed on task most of the time--a huge accomplishment for the EH kids--competed passionately but not rudely with each other, and took enormous pride in "winning" points I tracked to reward them for class participation. …

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