When you think of a typical classroom, you may picture a dusty chalkboard surrounded by creaky wooden desks. In the digital age, however, typical no longer means traditional. Educators are increasingly utilizing technology to enhance kids’ learning experiences in the classroom. We chatted with elementary school teacher, Heather Ludlow, about her opinions on classroom technology, and how using it can change teaching for the better.Tell us a little about yourself! How did you decide to be a teacher?
My name is Heather and I've been a teacher in my hometown for three years. I wanted to be a teacher for a majority of my life, and got my MA in Elementary Education. It has been the best decision I've ever made!In your opinion, what are some of the benefits of using tech in the classroom?
Even though I teach first and second grade, I am endlessly amazed at how much my students know about technology. Integrating these devices into their education allows them to learn on things they're comfortable with. I work in a lower income school, and some of my students don't have access to technology at home. Using these devices allows them exposure to tools they'll use for the rest of their lives!Do you feel that students benefit more from technology with a screen, or without? Does it matter?
I think students benefit from both. When using something like the Cognitoys Dino, students are less distracted by anything going on on a screen. However, for visual learners, iPad applications and websites help focus their learning--anything they see is added aide.What kind of technology do you like using in your own classroom? Why?
I love using iPads! I am a title 1 teacher and through funding, my school was able to buy 59 iPads for title 1 students. There are SO many apps that help kids in every area of need. I use them constantly for language arts and math, and for researching topics in science and social studies. The children get SO excited when we use them and that makes them want to learn.How have you seen kids respond to the CogniToys Dino? How has it helped kids learn?
My students are obsessed with the Dino. They love naming him and playing games with him. When we had questions about any topic, we turned to him. He makes research easier, especially for students who haven't quite mastered typing or Google!
I don't buy into the myth that technology is somehow taking away the human aspect of teaching. Apps, movies and websites have made me a MUCH better teacher with so many more tools at my fingertips. It allows the students to move from topic to topic, to question things, to have additional teachable moments. Students communicate with me and each other so much more freely, increasing our human interaction and collaboration.
What role does asking questions play in a child’s ability to learn? What about play?
Questioning is VITAL. It allows students to feel confident when they answer something correctly. Additionally, if they are incorrect, they're given a chance to learn something new. I also love when students inspire their peers to think more deeply about a topic-even at a first grade level. Play is especially important for my first graders because it allows them to use their imaginations. We constantly ask students to be creative, but how can we expect results if we stifle their playtime? Play allows kids to be KIDS, which is sometimes overlooked.
The world is becoming extremely technological, no matter what you study or choose as a career. Early exposure to technology gives students a leg up in the adult world starting NOW. It is so much easier to integrate technology into your everyday life when it is something you are comfortable with. Early exposure allows even the youngest students to become global citizens.Do you have any recommendations for educators looking to introduce more technology into their classrooms?
Honestly, sit down with an iPad or Chromebook and explore their stores. There is an app for everything! Introducing maps? Take students on a virtual tour of a city. Teaching addition? A simple search of "addition games" will result in a wealth of resources. Also, reach out to tech savvy coworkers and ask how they incorporate technology. Your best resources are the human ones you work with every day!