Author: Caroline Brown
Role: K-12 Classroom teacher
Location: Bakersfield, VT
Waterville Elementary School, in Waterville, VT, a small K-6 (78 student) school nestled underneath Laraway Mountain in Lamoille County has identified technology as one of its action plan agendas. Sue Brown, Waterville's grade five/six instructor has identified technology integration as one of her individual professional development plan goals. When she learned that there was a course being offered by NEIREC called Designing for Technology Integration she felt that this could be a catalyst to begin the implementation of technology into units for herself, ultimately benefiting her students, and positively impacting the action plan.
The Designing for Technology Integration Course (DTI) ran for seven weeks in Fall, 2002 and was provided by TERC, an educational research and development organization committed to enhancing teaching and learning using good models for teaching with technology.
Sue designed an interdisciplinary unit in life science focused on mice for her fifth and sixth grade students which tied in math, language, reading, science, social studies, and technology. She aligned it with VT Standards and worked collaboratively with Dr. John Wrazen, biologist, from Johnson State College, Johnson, VT.
The unit has been a hit with her twenty students from the day they met their live, pregnant mouse, which they named Patches. They used the digital camera to take pictures of mom mouse and then her nine babies. They shared these with Dr. Wrazen through email. The students didn't even mind sharing the eight computers in the library and the one classroom computer and have even added a technology component of their own to the unit; reporting on the mice's escapades through the school newspaper. They still have to graph and interpret the growth data for the mouse and babies using the computer, and finish a power point presentation of the whole project.
The design of the unit included the computer to collect information (food webs), serve as communication (email), use for story element mapping (Inspiration), graphing and presentation. Assessment included informal observation by teacher, and end products with rubrics.
Why use technology? Sue knows it creates excitement and interest, aids in divergent learning and thinking, accommodates learning styles and types, presents authentic information, speeds up computational tasks, and allows for solutions and representation of data which supports higher order thinking. Sue also believes use of technology needs to be taught so it can then be a choice of the learner. She maintains that, "you can't decide what's the best tool suited for a job if you have no knowledge that the tool exists."
If more information is needed you may contact:
Waterville Elementary School
3414 VT RT 109
Waterville, VT 05441