Perspectives from the Field: Integrating Technology into Classroom Instruction

Robin Negrete is a Spanish and Math Intervention teacher at Team Academy, a K-6 charter school in Waseca, Minnesota. As one of the first teachers to have iPads and a smartboard for classroom instruction, she taught herself how to use these digital technologies and found educational resources to support instruction. In her ‘Perspectives from the Field’ Tech Matters Blog post, Robin reflects on the benefits and challenges of integrating digital technologies into her instruction and how the educational resources found on the PowerUp website can support teachers like her.

How can you use PowerUp to integrate technology into classroom instruction?

Over the years, I’ve learned a great deal about digital technology and how to use it for instruction and practice from seeing what other teachers have done and then applying it to my own practice. At Team Academy, I was the first teacher to have a smartboard. Much of what I knew was self-taught. The Internet was a great resource and I learned a great deal from blog posts, articles, and wikispaces that showed what other teachers made and how they used them.

Information related to teaching Spanish to elementary students was hard to find. One source that gave me a treasure trove of ideas was MaestraNadine (https://maestranadine.wikispaces.com/), a wikispace dedicated to learning Spanish through activities, songs, and videos. I could show a cultural video on the smartboard, teach new vocabulary words through sing-along songs, and then have students get up and walk to the smartboard to do a memory game, matching Spanish words with pictures. I also used the website quizlet.com to create activities for students to practice Spanish vocabulary and check their understanding.  My students enjoyed watching videos and learning from songs and interactive games more than doing worksheets.

Educational web resources and online learning spaces such as MaestraNadine inspired me to start my own wikispace. I would put together an activity or project ahead of time. Then I brought my class to the media center so that every student would have a computer to log into and start working on the class wikispace. This gave students more opportunities to be self-directed in their own learning and freed me to provide more personalized instruction.

Now every classroom at Team Academy has a smartboard. This enabled us to receive more professional training from smartboard vendors. More importantly, with a common set of digital technologies, my colleagues and I can learn from each other, collaborate, and share educational resources.

Jill Courtney, TEAM Academy Superintendent has been very supportive. She set aside planning time during school inservices for staff to explore the PowerUp website, which has many resources across content areas such as math, reading, writing, and digital technologies, like the blogs and wikis that I’ve highlighted.  We continue to use the PowerUp website resources for our own professional learning and classroom instruction with technology.

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