Meaningful Use of Technology
I have been thinking a lot about patient literacy and novel ways to use technology to get meaningful medical information into the hands of my patients. Recently, I had the opportunity to have breakfast with my friend Dave Theune, an English Teacher and Drama Director at Spring Lake Public Schools in Spring Lake, Michigan. Dave and Garth Trask, a first grade teacher, were explaining how they are using tablet technology in their classrooms. Then, as if on cue, one of Dave’s students passed by beaming about his current English project. Suddenly, I was intrigued.
Spring Lake Public Schools, along with several other schools along the Lake Shore, recently started a pilot program using iPads in the classroom. Elementary students in the pilot program are required to purchase insurance for their devices. Those students that cannot afford insurance receive scholarships. Teachers then download appropriate apps onto their students’ devices.
Once the tablets are in the hands of the students, the learning begins. Tablets can be used in a wide variety of ways including the flipped classroom model. In a flipped classroom, students watch instructional videos prior to classroom instruction allowing the teacher’s time to be spent reinforcing and further explaining the material in the videos.
What most impressed me, however, was hearing about how students embrace this technology and use it to collaborate on projects. Dave’s classroom, for example, is currently learning about 19th Century Literature. His class began by using the devices to identify and define the important works of 19th Century Literature. His students were then able to take what they learned collectively and incorporate it into individual projects of interest. One of Dave’s students chose to create a Twitter account from which he tweets Edgar Allen Poe quotes (@Your_Man_Poe). Another student took the narrative poem “The Raven” and has rewritten it as a children’s book. The students in Dave’s class have gone on to take their individual projects and created a 19th Literature Museum which they have opened and shared with our local community.
Michigan Community Invests in the Future: Technology and Children
In the era of public education cutbacks, cost is a major roadblock to getting tablets into the hands of more Michigan students. In an effort to address this challenge, Ludington, Michigan, recently approved a 10-year technology bond for its public schools. The bond gives students in Ludington assurance that they will have access to the latest technology even as the technology changes over time.
In the future, an alternative source of funding might be Michigan industry–if it begins to see the value of having the latest technology school classrooms and begins to understand the value of investing in public schools. Alternatively, the Michigan Legislature might see fit to increase public school funding in the future.
Tablets in public schools appear to foster learning, collaboration, and creativity in the classroom. Students embrace the devices. When each student, regardless of income, has access to the Internet in a supervised manner, they have unprecedented access to knowledge and learning. This opens new and exciting possibilities in public school education for both students and teachers.
Physician Opportunity to Use Technology to Create and Curate Health Information for Patients
Similarly, as tablet technology becomes more affordable and widespread, patients will have access to an almost unlimited amount of health care information. As physicians, we have a unique opportunity to use this technology to create and curate easy to understand educational materials for our patients. In addition, we will soon be able to use this technology to facilitate ongoing discussions with patients in an effort to help them better manage their own conditions. This is an exciting time not only for public education but also for the practice of medicine. We are really only limited by our own creativity in the resources we can create for our patients to improve the quality of health care in our communities.
Your blog was dead on. Tablets promote increased engagement, collaboration, and creativity. But my favorite point you make is regarding equal acess (or more equal access) for students from families with lower incomes.
Jen told me about your Facebook article on the use of technology/tablets in schools. Technology continues to evolve in educational settings throughout our country. In the past 5-yrs. I have seen great improvement and creativity from teacers who have embraced it in various ways; communication, instructional, informational research, data, etc. iPads and/or tablet education is just starting to take hold and some of the education Apps are quite impressive and help to keep students activiely engaged in practice opportunities. I also just recently heard about “Flip” lessons and how educators are using this at the high school and higher learning institutions; cool stuff! It certainly has it’s place and uses. Unfortunately, many districts throughout our nation continue to struggle with keeping up, as both the software and hardware devices are constantly changing and school funding doesn’t allow for all schools to have equal access. This issue is further compounded when it comes to the “have” and “have nots” in relation to family resources, i.e. having dollars to have web access at home. It is my hope that government and private agencies continue to help all schools in their ability to provide equal access to technology resources so that all students improve their 21st Century Skills. Thanks for taking such a keen interest.
I absolutely agree with your blog post. Mr. Theune is the first teacher who doesn’t give our mind restrictions, he encourages creativity. If more schools encourage it, I think students will feel motivated to be themselves. I think working with technology is helping comprehension and making life easier for other students.
Thanks for your support!
Well–our museum day is done. It was an honor to work with students in this way. It was a collaborative, sprawled-out learning experience supported by the use of our technology.
To be frank, yesterday was one of the best days I’ve ever had as a teacher. There are a few memorable moments that linger over years; this is one of them. I’m sure of it.
Over the past three and a half weeks, students have read, researched, reread, written, thought, collaborated, created, celebrated, and reflected. The technology isn’t ESSENTIAL in the process, but it IS an accelerator in the process. Students were able to research more easily and on their own time versus the method I had used in previous years: sign up for the computer lab two weeks in advance and let the students know that they had to do all of their research on the same day, so they better be ready. It didn’t promote learning how it really happens. We all know that inspiration and curiosity hits us at different times and different rates. Having technology in the classroom allows for that spontaneity.
Your observations about equal access is critical. We need to have and use technology in the school and it needs to be available for all; otherwise, we run the risk of furthering the gap between socioeconomic statuses. It’s true that we can’t account for wifi at home even when the technology is 1:1 (where a student can take the device home to work), but, at least in school, everyone has equal opportunities to learn.
I’m working on a video to show the museum day in progress and I hope to be able to post that soon.
Until then, thank you for your thoughts on technology in the classroom. It gives the bright minds in our classrooms an easier way to connect to the world.
I really loved the idea of this project. I really wish that all teachers did this type of projects with their students. I believe that this form of teaching taught students way more than a test or quizzes or even taking notes would. For me this helped me learn way better because it was our freedom to learn for ourselves, it wasn’t the teacher forcing us to learn the things that he wanted us to, it was my curiosity about the lives and stories of the authors that lead me to the projects that I did. Before this project I really new nothing about this type of literature, the only thing I knew was that Poe was a great writer, I had know idea how crazy his life was and how he’d written, but now I know A LOT more about him and also about other writers that I haven’t even ever heard of in my life, and this was all done by letting us do our own thing. I think that if other teachers would let us do this then what they wanted to teach us would be way more beneficial for the student and for our learning. I think that students ability shouldn’t be cut off, but we should be able to explore the things we want to for our benefit of learning the material and that is just what this project and style of learning did.
This is Jordan Smant and I have American Lit with Mr. T. I like the idea of “teachers downloading apps” because I feel like that is better for students to learn at their own pace. There is no pressure when you have your own tablet working on your own. In class you watch students learn quicker and you may feel pressured, rushed, or even embarrassed. I’ve always liked the idea of “your own pace”. This makes that 10x easier.
Starting out my senior year, I was both thrilled and frustrated to see technology like ipads and laptops entering three out of my five classes. Thrilled because they embrace a new world of accessible information but also because they challenged me to express and utilize what I had learned in more exciting, innovative ways than ever before. But I was also frustrated because they’re being introduced to our schooling so late within my education, and I do feel that in our classrooms the continued use of these tools will push the students of coming generations to greater heights. They are relevant resource that can only help enhance the quality and diversity of our education system.
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It’s been two weeks since the completion of our 19th Century literary museum. As I reflect back on it, I have such positive thoughts: the students amazed me. I think about how much they taught ME as their teacher. Of course they taught me about the use of today’s technology (the creation of apps and tumblr accounts, for example), but they were teaching me things about authors I did not know as well. When I ran class last year, I made all the decisions on what the students would read. With so much to choose from, we did NOT read Emily Dickinson. It turns out, many students were drawn to her when they had choice and I learned so much about this great American author from my students. My classroom has become reciprocal. Sure, I have a lot to share with them, but there’s so much I DON’T know. It’s exciting to be a teacher in my own room. I’m engaged in learning throughout the whole process.
So, thank you, Brian. Thank you for shedding some light on the topic. I will include the link to a three-minute video I made of photographs I took throughout the museum day. I hope you enjoy!
Thank you for your comments.
I have really enjoyed the opportunity to learn about tablet technology and how it is being used in our local public school systems. My hope is that I can take what I learned, from you and your students, and use those ideas to try to improve health care literacy in our community.
In reading the comments from students and teachers, it quickly became clear to me that tablet technology is going to change the way in which we learn new material and collaborate with each other in society.
Moving forward, I believe it is critical that all students have equal access to this technology. Students who, for whatever reason, do not have access will be at a significant disadvantage not only in the classroom but also in the workplace.
I enjoyed watching the video of your students and your class project. It is obvious that your students are naturally creative. It must be very rewarding as an educator to be able to use tablets to help students recognize and realize their natural creativity.
I wish you and your students the very best!
I am also a teacher in Spring Lake. I am using iPads for 8th grade US History. We just wrapped up our Congressional Hearing on Indian Removal. Students were researching what actually happened in 1830 and had the opportunity to “change history”. We will be putting “Hunger on Trial” (Irish Immigration) and various other role plays and authentic learning experiences.
I have done these activities for the last 7-8 years but with iPads the depth of knowledge kids can reach is magnified. For example, this year’s role play allows students to research and take on the persona an actual person from the time of the event. They looked each other up as they were negotiating before the hearings and were able to learn about their negotiating partners.
Glad to see you are an advocate. Keep it up and vocal!
I was so impressed with this example of Creativity, sent to me by Dave Theune, that I felt it needed to be added to the post/discussion.
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