Technology Integration in the Classroom

 

Technology at Central Christian School has grown tremendously in the last two years. During this time, Central has made numerous acquisitions and upgrades, equipping classrooms with tools for instruction and ensuring students are prepared for secondary school and future careers. Furthermore, Central hired a full-time technology specialist, Dr. Lisamarie Collaco, whose doctoral and continued education research ranged from assistive technology to media discernment. As a result, Central is impacted on many levels by a specialist who thoughtfully creates vision and oversees technology instruction.  Dr. Collaco has designed and implemented a digital literacy curriculum for students in Junior Kindergarten through 6th grade. This curriculum includes skills such as typing, multi-media presentations, graphic design, online safety, Google Apps, and more. The curriculum aligns with both the International Society for Technology in Education standards and our 12 Outcomes of a Central graduate.

The 2015-2016 school year marks an exciting transition in technology education at Central Christian School. Full-day students in Junior Kindergarten through sixth grade will participate in computer class just once per week to learn the skills in our digital literacy curriculum. With the additional time in each grade’s schedule, students will participate in deeper technology integration within our existing classroom curriculum. Rather than using technology in isolation within the computer lab, classroom teachers and Dr. Collaco are teaming together, so students can apply and utilize technology skills in conjunction with their classroom learning. The possibilities include everything from creating movies and iBooks, integrating music with graphic design, and making various curricular connections through “virtual field trips”.

According to Stratham and Torell, “When used appropriately...technology in classrooms stimulates increased teacher/student interaction, and encourages cooperative learning, collaboration, problem-solving, and student inquiries.” Most of the research on technology integration echoes similar conclusions.  Having studied technology integration, taught a number technology courses, and visited a number of schools implementing technology integration, Dr. Collaco confirmed the need and importance of technology integration at Central.

This past winter, Dr. Collaco collaborated with Summit science teacher, Deb Barham, for a trial integration. In preparation for the upcoming science fair, fifth and sixth grade student work sessions were held after school to provide feedback and expertise on projects. While Mrs. Barham’s time was focused on answering students’ questions about content and process, Dr. Collaco provided technology support for these sessions. Students’ skills were strengthened as they printed from iPads, created graphs using Numbers, and wrote bibliographies using both iPads and iMac desktop computers. Many Summit students advanced to St. Louis Regional Science Fair at Queeny Park, and each of these students won a regional blue ribbon! Two fifth graders even earned scholarship money! This experience over several months confirmed technology integration has significant benefits to both students and teachers. 

Along with technology integration comes the greater need to teach about media discernment, healthy usage guidelines, and online safety. According to the Barna Group, there exists a need for “...a Christian or faith-based perspective about how to be a good user of entertainment and technology without letting things negatively impact” students and families… The implication is that faith communities could take a leadership role in teaching about the proper use of technology…” Deeper integration at Central includes our desire to teach the appropriate use of technology through a biblical worldview. In addition to her lab and classroom work with students and teachers, Dr. Collaco will also lead Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) on technology integration for interested teachers. These small groups will read articles, watch videos, and collaborate about their own experiences in classrooms. They’ll learn how to better integrate technology, co-teach, and understand how to approach technology from a biblical worldview.

 

In the age of teaching the “net generation,” we know technology is or will soon be a significant part of our students’ lives. We’re committed to teaching students how to select, discern, and use current technologies according to a Biblical worldview, all while learning methods and principles as new technologies are developed or updated. In 2015-16, we continue our refinement of technology integration, aiming to stay relevant within the context of the computer lab and other classrooms. We look forward to the challenges and the journeys ahead!

For additional information on technology integration and media discernment, see the following resources:

http://www.davidleeedtech.org/#!technology_integration/c8ui
http://www.iste.org/docs/excerpts/itsele-excerpt.pdf
The Barna Group, How Technology is Influencing Families, https://www.barna.org/barna-update/family-kids/488-how-technology-is-influencing-families#.VUOIptNViko