Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Ma-TESOL; M.S. SpEd
Literature and writing can be difficult subjects for middle and high school students, with critical concepts like symbols and foreshadowing testing the patience of young minds. To combat this, many English teachers have turned to the language of teenagers: technology.
Kim Arroyo, an Indiana middle school teacher, has found that integrating technology into her English class allows students to conduct research during her lessons, improving the learning experience in her classroom. She received an Apple Watch as part of giveaway for teachers, and she plans to use it in conjunction with her smartphone, furthering her use of technology in the classroom.
Technology does not just make it easier to research famous authors in class; it has also been shown to improve engagement and help students remember what they’ve learned. However, technology cannot replace teachers entirely. In a report published by Stanford, researchers have found that unless technology is used in conjunction with personal attention from a teacher, a student will not reap the benefits of computerized learning, such as interactive environments, visual and audio aids, and creative tools designed for students to express what they have learned.
One of the best ways to test a student’s understanding of recent material is to assign a creative project related to the material. With smartphones, many students have the tools they need to create short films: a good camera and a downloadable app to edit the film. Ask them to create a 3-5 minute video reenacting a scene from a book recently read in class. Encourage them to interpret the material however they like; a dramatic dinner scene can be done with actors or with stuffed animals voiced by the students. These assignments are fun for students and help them retain the critical thinking associated with the material.
Students spend most of their time using modern technology, so leveraging their understanding of these platforms is key to supporting life long development. Once you’ve introduced learning the modern way, the possibilities are endless with the exponential growth of technology and the Internet.