From Indifference to Inspiration – Using Technology In Elementary School Classrooms

It is 1976 and you open the door to your fourth grade classroom with your eyes cast down in boredom as you expect the room to look as it always does every single day.

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You expect to see rows of desks inhabited by uninterested children reading the textbooks that weighed down their backpacks just like yours that morning. You also know you will see a plain black chalkboard along the back wall and an old teacher peering over a student’s shoulder– the same things you always see.

However today, you notice a different atmosphere of excitement as you enter the classroom. You hear your classmates socializing in an energetic manner so you look up to see what is causing all of the unfamiliar commotion. Suddenly a wave of excitement comes over you as you look up to see this:

1960s-classroom

Sitting there on a cart at the front of the classroom is a dusty television. Your eyes light up as you realize your class will finally be watching a movie in class today.

Watching a movie in school during this time was probably one of the most exciting things an elementary school student experienced in their classroom because most schools owned only one television. Students were lucky to even watch one movie during the course of an entire school year.  This single piece of technology completely changed the atmosphere of a classroom and the attitudes of students.

Now imagine it is 2005 and you are once again in the fourth grade at a public elementary school – however at a time where things are very different. You open the door to your classroom and see this:

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Surrounding desks arranged into groups are colorful posters and school supplies. Dry erase boards cover the walls, a television hangs from the ceiling, an overhead projector stands in the front, and three Dell computers sit on a table in the back of the classroom.  With all of these things surrounding you going to school was not that bad.

Finally, picture yourself as an elementary school student in the year of 2015.  Upon entering your classroom, you might see this on a daily basis.  You now may even think of learning as something fun and exciting because of these new additions to your classroom:

AR-120639931.jpg&maxw=800&q=90Interactive-Whiteboards

Many elementary schools throughout the state of Virginia now have Interactive Whiteboards and iPads for both students and teachers to use.  As you can see, the innovation of technology over time has drastically changed the learning environment in elementary school classrooms.

One dilemma that many school systems face today is that many elementary schools do not know whether it is beneficial to invest in new technological devices for students to use. The opinions of whether or not schools should invest their money on these devices are split:

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 9.50.20 PMSome people are simply curious about the rapid change in classrooms and look forward to what is to come to schools in the future, while others are against bringing new technology to classrooms because they didn’t have advanced technology in schools when theScreen Shot 2015-04-29 at 9.50.56 PMy were younger.  Most people who are against bringing technology to classrooms seem to think that because they were successful in school without technology then Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 9.51.29 PMstudents now will be fine without it as well.  However, government officials and organizations are supporting this cause and are presenting schools with devices such as iPads through grants.  And lastly, there are a Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 9.52.08 PMfew people who have done their research or have witnessed the positive impact of technology in a classroom first-hand and know that investing in technology for elementary school classrooms is worth every penny.

Despite these varying opinions and after great analysis of elementary school classrooms with and without new technology over the past few years, studies show that both students and teachers greatly benefit from new technological devices in their classrooms. Numerous studies show that these recent additions to the classroom help engage students, better prepare them for the future, and are overall worth the cost.  Here are the results from a research study sponsored by the Office of Educational Research and conducted by the Stanford Research Institute where elementary school classrooms were observed using technology:

As you heard, technology offers many beneficial resources to both teachers and students.  Along with these study results, technology can also be a very encouraging addition to the classroom.  Let’s take a look at a few more reasons as to why some teachers find technology (specifically the iPad) a very helpful and inspirational resource for students to use in the classroom:

After thoroughly researching this topic, analyzing pros and cons, and as someone who wants to be an elementary school teacher in the near future, I plan to incorporate the use of technology in my classroom in as many ways as possible.  Using technology will not only replace pencil and paper activities, but will provide a helpful, inspiring, personalized and fun learning environment for each and every one of my students.

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