Computers in K-12 Education
We live in the electronic age. To have a classroom without computers is to do a disservice to our students. These children have grown up with computers and in many cases they know more about computers than their teachers! This doesn't mean that teachers have to be afraid of technology, though. Every subject can use computers in a way that supports and enhances instruction and it's not hard to do.
English / Reading
There are many great programs to help teach reading skills to young children. They are disguised as games, but don't be fooled! Students may be playing with bears and bunnies, but they are learning phonics, sight words, and more. As students progress, they can move into more advanced reading programs that require students to read and respond to characters in a game in order to complete a quest and earn points. Reading doesn't have to come from a book to be educational - so embrace these programs as a way to reach today's students.
Many students who have problems learning mathematics are visual - not logical - learners. In a traditional math class, all the numbers and letters and symbols on the page just don't click in their mind. Computer programs that teach mathematics have activities that make math click with all types of learners. Sometimes just a few minutes working with the computer program can make a new concept click with a struggling student.
Computer programs are a great way to combat the lack of funding in your school district. If you can't afford the materials to run a particular science experiment, you may be able to find videos online of people conducting that experiment, or a computer program that simulates the experiment for the students. (Not to mention you can show them footage of experiments that are too dangerous to run inside the school!) What a fun way to bring extreme science into the classroom!
One of the benefits of having a computer in the history classroom is the ability to find interactive timelines. As we know, students learn best when they can connect their new knowledge to some prior knowledge. Instead of having them memorize the dates of famous battles, pull up an interactive timeline and show them what else was happening in the world. Famous scientific discoveries? The birth year of a composer they like from Band class? The year a certain food was invented? Anything to help them draw connections to things they know and like will make instruction more exciting, relevant, and most importantly - sticky in their mind.
Computer programs can help students calculate the calories they burned during Gym class. They can preview what color will be produced when two paints are mixed in Art. They can compose music for their peers to play in Orchestra. There's a program for everything these days!
As a teacher, it is your job to explore the Internet and find resources that are appropriate for your students. You can even create a website where they are able to click links and explore the treasures you have found.
Our students will be using computers in their lives and careers, so it is very important for us to integrate computers into the classroom and teach students the way they need to be taught - using today's bleeding edge technology whenever possible.
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