Tech as TOOL, not tech as TOY

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We’ve all heard the arguments:

“If you let them have devices in the classroom, all they’ll do is text, play games, etc.”    

“How can you expect them to pay attention in class if they’re on their devices?”

Yesterday during a routine math lesson these arguments were proven wrong!

Picture it.  I was at the Smart Board, trying to explain to a group of 13-year-olds why understanding integer calculations was real and important beyond the classroom.  Problem #1 involved comparing the depths of the deepest points in two oceans.  While I could name the Marianas Trench, I had no idea of the name of the deepest point in the Indian Ocean, and said so.  Within seconds one of my students had done a quick search on-line and was able to share the information with the class.  Communicating about the solution became simpler and clearer.  Problem #2 involved calculating the net gain or loss of a person who had purchased stocks.  One stock had produced a gain of hundreds of dollars.  I gave them the example that this might represent a rise in stock values for a well-known company (you all know which fruit I named) which had recently released a new and much-awaited line of phones.  Seconds later, another student said, “actually, Mrs. D., their stock value went down today.”

Talk about student engagement!  A lesson which might otherwise be retained only long enough to pass the next quiz or test now has real-life, potentially memorable connections.  In seconds, without interrupting the flow of the math lesson itself, my students had increased their understanding and knowledge of the world they live in.  They felt connected!

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