By Amy Gold, Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Everywhere you look in the media today, we read that schools are working on how to integrate technology in the classroom. Recently, there have been many articles in professional education journals that are focused on teaching “screenagers.” We are now teaching the Igeneration. The I represents digital technology (iphones, ipad, itouch) and the highly individualized activities and immediate response that these technologies make possible. The face of education as we know it is changing and at Rashi we are keeping pace with best practice by training our teachers to teach with twenty first century tools and skills.
What is important to understand is that we have not radically changed what we are teaching but rather how we are using technology to convey content more powerfully and efficiently. Teaching and learning at Rashi is still student centered. Technology cannot replace the relational nature of teaching. Rather, the Activboard technology that we have here at school enables teachers to create lessons that are more interactive. Teachers can present information through a variety of modalities which helps students to develop richer, more complex mental representations of content.
Last year, we set professional goals in technology for all our faculty, and within the first year, our teachers met the initial goals. Currently, teachers are working on the next set of challenges which are more complex and technical as they require a deeper understanding of how to create and modify content using ActivBoards.
This year we added a complimentary tool to the ActivBoards, the learning response systems (affectionately called LARRYs). With these devices, teachers are able to ask both planned and unplanned questions for in-the-moment assessment and receive instantaneous feedback – which we refer to as dip-sticking. It provides real time data for making moment-to-moment decisions about how to progress with a lesson.
Do I continue to more advanced content or do I need to review some more and provide additional guided practice? The ability to make these immediate decisions helps to differentiate instruction and wouldn’t be possible without this technology.
It is important to remember that technology isn’t changing what we teach, it is enhancing our ability to teach. Teaching is an art. No matter how innovative and flashy technology seems, teaching at Rashi will always be about learning through relationships with students. We believe that technology helps to enhance our instruction, engage students, provide us with new ways to gauge their learning, and connect with our students. However, it will never replace the bond created by teacher and student as they explore new concepts and tackle new skills. With this new technology and professional development, we have invested in out teachers, we have invested in our students, and are providing an outstanding education amidst an ever changing tide.