Role of Technology

The transformational technology that students will be using in this project is the Smartboard.  A Smartboard is an interactive white board that allows teachers to create hands on interactive lessons that engage and motivate students to learn.  Smartboards have a number of unique features that help teachers develop inspiring lessons that engage students in extraordinary ways.  One feature is touch recognition, which gives the student or teacher the ability to write on the screen using the digital pens, or even your finger.  A finger can be used to navigate the screen similar to how a mouse is used to navigate a computer monitor.  The palm of your hand can even be used to erase items on the screen.  The product also comes with Smart Notebook software that is easy to use.  The software allows the user to capture images and writing on the screen and save it to be used in PowerPoint presentations or other multimedia presentations. 

Within the context of this proposed project student learning will be transformed in many ways.  The use of the Smartboard alone is a huge motivating factor in this project.  Students will be actively engaged in using the technology to present mathematical problem solving strategies and capture the steps using the Smart Notebook software.  Typically students at our school complete math assignments using a pencil and paper.  This type of learning will bring our students 21st Century learning. 

In Suggestions, Tools and Guidelines for Assessing Technology in Elementary and Secondary Education, the question, “Are students proficient in the use of technology in the teaching/learning environment?” is discussed.  The article says that, “Establishing and implementing technology literacy standards for students can help guide teacher efforts to integrate technology.”  This article lists construction skills that students should have by the completion of elementary school, which build upon the basic and critical skills found in the Nonprint Media and Technology Literacy Standards.  “Construction skills are competencies involving the creation and use of nonprint texts for developing ideas and opinions, for communicating and collaborating with others, and for enhancing problem solving and personal fulfillment. Construction skills include capabilities for composing, developing, integrating, and presenting.”

Here are a few from the list that pertain to the proposed Smartboard integration project.
  • Use computer-based writing tools to communicate thoughts, ideas, and stories.
  • Use computer-based drawing tools to illustrate thoughts, ideas, and stories.
  • Use multimedia authoring tools in the creation of knowledge products.
  • Use presentation software in the creation of knowledge products.
  • Use WWW authoring tools in the creation of knowledge products.
  • Use videos for self-directed and/or extended learning.
  • Use technology resources for self-directed and/or extended learning.
  • Use technology resources for problem solving.
  • Create nonprint media for personal fulfillment.
  • Use telecommunications technologies to participate in collaborative projects.
  • Work collaboratively to seek and/or communicate information in nonprint formats.
  • Work collaboratively to create simple nonprint information products.

The National Educational Technology Standards provides a list of technology foundation standards for students including, using technology as a problem solving tool, a productivity tool, and using as a communication tool.  The proposed Smartboard integration will motivate students to problem solve, present, and capture information in a productive way.  Within the project students will also be using technology to communicate as they share projects on the internet.

My plan for promoting mathematical problem solving skills incorporates a number of learning theories.  In “How to Develop Student Creativity,” Robert J. Sternberg and Wendy M. Williams discuss basic learning techniques to develop student creativity, saying that teachers need to “Promote creative performance by encouraging your students to define and redefine problems and projects.”  They state that it is important to allow students to “choose their own ways of solving problems, and sometimes choose again if they discover that their selection was a mistake.” Students will also be cross-fertilizing ideas as their creativity is stimulated, by thinking across subjects and disciplines, because this project integrates math, technology, communication skills, and verbal speaking skills.

In Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition, Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe state that, “Understanding thus involves meeting a challenge for thought.  We encounter a mental problem, and experience with puzzling or no meaning, We use judgment to draw upon our repertoire of skills and knowledge to solve it (2005)”  I want my students to meet challenging problems with confidence and use their prior knowledge to develop strategies to solve the problems.

It is best practice to encourage student collaboration, which this project does.  Students will work in teams to solve problems, present information, and create projects.  Working as a team will help all members of the class to feel valued and have a part in the learning process.  “Classroom climate is important.  If students experience the classroom as a caring supportive place where there is a sense of belonging and everyone is valued and respected, they will tend to participate more fully in the process of learning (Lumsden 1994).”

Specifically student learning through this project will be transformed in two ways. 

  • Students will gain confidence in developing problem solving strategies as they work in teams to solve math problems.  Simultaneously they will come to understand their understanding through presenting and capturing their thought processes with the use of the Smartboard.
  • Students will create projects to demonstrate their understanding with video or other multimedia presentation software to share their ideas globally.  As other students from around the world share projects by posting them to the project website, students will come to the realization that we live in a global society in which learning can be connected.

Click here to view a demonstration of Smartboard technology.