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General Science and Teaching

Using Technology in the Classroom Yes or No

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Lara Smetana Lara Smetana 6260 Points

Adah, thank you for sharing some of your favorite resources. I will add this one as well, and encourage teachers to review the book in its entirety. When considering integrating a new technology, I always ask myself, what will technology allow me to do that I otherwise would not be able to? How can it supplement other my other instructional modes?

Kathy Renfrew Kathy Renfrew 37248 Points

I think the question posed "how will the new technology help me solve the problem " is the question to ask. In my fairly new position at the DOE, I am beginning to become much more tech savvy. The learning took place because the tool allowed me to move forward in whatever project I was working on. I have recently become familiar with a Smart pen. This tool allows me to take notes. ZZit also records so I don't miss anything and then it transcribes my handwriting to print on the computer. WOW!! Can you imagine? I am an advocate of technology use in the classroom if it will increase student thinking and learning. Kathy

Elizabeth Dalzell-Wagers Elizabeth Dalzell 9945 Points

I love using technology in the classroom. You don't need to have money either, majority of our kids have cell phones. There is a perfect place on internet that allows students to chime in discussion or answer questions by using their cell phones. I also allow student to take video/photos of dissections, labs and activiites to help them study for the test and to the review! Students can use their phones to take photos of stuff and then upload their photos and make a powerpoint or voice thread. Thanks Liz

Susanne Hokkanen Susanne Hokkanen 79520 Points

Elizabeth, The use of cell phones in school is often dictated by the adminstration of your district or school. Students are not allowed to use cell phones at all in my building. We have problems with cyber-bullying and other problems of misuse. I don't think our students are even allowed cameras. So while the world is moving forward with technology, the misuse of this technology prevents it from being fully implemented in many classrooms. Sue

Dorian Janney Dorian Janney 10505 Points

As a veteran teacher who has been teaching now for 27 years, I have been absolutely delighted with the various ways that the use of technology has made my job much easier and so much more efficient, not to mention allowing me to differentiate science content for the varied ability and interest levels in each class. In my school system, the majority of teachers have projectors which are attached to computers that have Internet access. Many of these projectors are attached to interactive white boards, which gives the teachers even greater flexibility. In addition to these, we also have computer labs that we can sign up to take our students to which will allow them to work individually to have access to the Internet and other computer-based tools (word processors, PowerPoint, Excel, etc..). Although it is a lot to keep up with, I have found that using technology and allowing my students to find various ways to interact with technology, has kept me excited and engaged as I strive to find new ways and resources to use while "inspiring the next generation". I have been in classrooms with only chalkboards and have also worked in classrooms with suites of 16 Internet-connected computers as well as an interactive Promethien Board. While I firmly believe that a Master teacher can find ways to bring science live to their students, I also feel that you really level the playing field when teachers can use technology to create PowerPoints and/or flipcharts that they use to steer their daily lessons and which allow their students to interact with the content in a multi-sensory fashion. Having access to computers for student use, at least on a weekly basis, also greatly assist science teachers as they can use the vast array of Internet and computer-based resources to extend their students' learning beyond the textbooks and four walls of the standard classroom environment.

Jennifer Rahn Jennifer Rahn 67955 Points

I would agree that there is a huge mismatch between the technology available and the willingness of administration to allow it to be used. I was in a school last year where phones were not allowed, but I gave students permission to use them to take pictures to document their projects. If students abused the privilege, they lost the phone for the day, and were not allowed to use it again for their projects. There is so much good content available for students today if they have web access. Most of the time, logging on through a school network is tedious at best, if computers are even available in the classroom. On the other hand, so many of the kids have 3G or 4G phones that allow them to log on almost instantaneously. Like so many new technologies though, the fear of the negatives outweigh the potential positive educational uses in most schools. In my mind, the issue becomes one of training our students to use the technology appropriately, rather than banning it outright. As a former tech person (and not a young one), businesses have to deal with this every day as well; there are expectations placed on the users of the technology, and if the expectations are not met, there are consequences... I see at some point in the future that most of our textbooks becoming e-tool based. Already there are textbooks for most subjects on the Nook and Kindle, and while a bit primitive, they have the potential in the future to allow our students to have their books at home every night. A 3G Kindle is under $200; we expect students to pay over $100 for a calculator at some point in middle school. By the way, I grew up with slide rules. The calculator was the new technology. We weren't allowed to use them for several years. Now they are a staple in virtually every math and science class. Are they good or bad? Inherently they are neither. It depends on how we use them. What are some of your thoughts on how we can manage technology, because I'm pretty sure banning it will not work for the long term?

Elizabeth Dalzell-Wagers Elizabeth Dalzell 9945 Points


My school is similar to everyone's else's school in that cell phones are not allowed. However, I sent home permission slips and talk to my administration. This is a great way to promote technology and demonstrate to students how to use it correctly. I have done this with almost 500 students now, and have never had an incident. I feel that it is the expectation that I hold strong too, my students, even the difficult ones use it appropriately. You should consider a trial in 1 of your classes (the better behaved one) and use it as an incentives for others.

For those that are questioning my demographics, we are at 48% free reduce, and are caucasians are 40% of the population.

I feel that by using the excuse 'students will do this... or that...' we should be willing to take the risk and teach them how to make a difference or create something that supports their learning.

This is a time to support the risk, one reason that education is a passion of mine it is allows educators such as ourselves to questions the system, and inspire our students as well as our colleagues.


Dorothy Ginnett Dorothy Ginnett 28250 Points

Classroom technology can be a great tool to reach students of a wide variety of multiple intelligences. Last year I used a WIKI forum in Moodle with 8th graders for collaboration on small group science projects. They absolutely loved it! No more complaints about not being able to meet outside of class and/or someone being absent the day of a presentation. All small group materials were stored on the one Wiki site and everyone could work on it, as they had time available. Glogster (online posters) and PhotoStory are two fun free sites for creative student multimedia presentations. I've used student response systems (clickers) in larege college lecture hall classrooms and they are very effective for student polling (anonymous) and quick review/feedback on concepts that were just taught. Also effectively breaks-up the lecture time, by changing the pacing and activity. Finally, I teach some fully online science classes for both middle school and high school students. This use of technology provides excellent outreach to homebound students (medical/psychological issues), students who need schedule flexibility (pursing sports,or the arts, and travelling), students making up credits (who may have failed it in the traditional classroom, so are trying a different format), students who are accelerated (gifted/talented,and moving ahead of the standard curriculum), and students in rural communities (who may not have a science teacher on site in this subject). Dorothy

Pamela Auburn Pamela Auburn 68625 Points

I have been reading through a Harvard study on factors influencing success in college science. I was surprised that the use of technology in the classroom has no effect (positive or negative) of success in college science. You can view this at

Ruth Hutson Ruth Hutson 64775 Points

I have the privilege of working at a one to one laptop initiative school. For those of you not familiar with this project, I'll explain briefly. For a nominal rental fee, our students receive a laptop that is provided by our school district. Students can use the laptop both at home and school. They may use their laptops all four years of high school and at the end of high school, they may purchase their laptops. Our technology director and technology committee do an outstanding job making long term plans how we can best use this technology in the classroom. I have taught at districts that did not have an one to one initiative in place. I have found that my current students are much more tech savvy than students I have previously taught. I see the laptops as a tool that allow me the ability to teach students more than just science content. I help students apply math skills, use graphing software, design movies, and evaluate web sources. In short, they allow us to think outside the box. I have seen a marked improvement in the quality of student work and motivation. I also think this integrated approach helps them retain the science concepts better because they see how what we are learning relates to the real world.

Pamela Auburn Pamela Auburn 68625 Points

I frequently struggle with this issue and find myself questioning that way technology is engaging my students. When I can use technology to further learning objectives it a a major plus. When technology becomes an end in itself or worse a distraction from major learning objectives the answer is leave it out. I have been very intrigued with data that shows students who graph by hand tend to be more successful in college science. I suspect that hand graphing engages students in a way that encourages different thought process than excel. I wish there were a way to predict which technologies furthered understanding and which impeded understanding.

Manuel Vasquez Manuel Vasquez 1950 Points

This is getting good....a debate that innovation and technology is constantly redefining and shaping our lives. I was reading a good article on this very subject where schools in California share their good and bad about managing technology in the classroom. There was a significant concern that introducing technology into California's classrooms would result in a over-reliance on technology to provide solutions, thereby stifling a student's educational and creative growth? How so? Here is a point within the article they reference using the calculator for mathematics. The article stated...the use of calculators and related technology may have a negative impact therefore creating a mental crutch for student, rather than a tool that promotes higher order learning and balance within mathematics. The key word here is "Balance". How much is too much or not enough is the question? Let's face it we are in a technology driven world from advanced TV’s, computer games, software, online programs, video streamline, smart boards, whiteboard, and the list goes on. Elizabeth...I appreciate your ingenuity and innovation in utilizing the cell phone as a means for learning no matter what the conditions, environment or admin believe :). We have to find creative ways to reach our children is the bottom line...and by some of the tools you all described where doing just that! Thanks Adah for kicking off the forum which spark some interesting views on the subject of Technology in the Classroom. Kathy...I need to get my hands on the Smart Pen. M

Pamela Auburn Pamela Auburn 68625 Points

Manuel, Do you have a reference for the article you mentioned?

Manuel Vasquez Manuel Vasquez 1950 Points you go.

Wendy Ruchti Wendy Ruchti 24875 Points

I'm a big fan of technology in the classroom as long as it serves a purpose and enhances learning... I've recently fallen in love with the iPod Touch as a learning tool. The new 4G has a picture and video capability as well as a mic for podcasting. As long as you have wifi it has internet capabilities. I've been using them (I got some through a NASA grant) in my Science Methods course to access the Learning Center. Their downfall is the lack of Java capability so the WebSeminars and anything Java is not available. We are using several free apps as well and gathering even more as we speak. The pre-service teachers will use them in their pre-internship semester starting in January. NASA has a fantastic app, and I also use a Physics app, a great one to visualize mitosis, and one that creates 3-D molecules. The star chart has been fun as it will move with you to show you different fun for kids. I've seen different schools that are using them in the classroom and there are some great websites out there documenting their experiences. I also use an attendance app (has pictures and the capability to randomly cycle through students, so that everyone participates) in my classes and it's been really fun (no more popsicle sticks!)

Ruth Hutson Ruth Hutson 64775 Points

Adah wrote, 'I have seen this problem as well. I first noticed that when I placed an analog clock on the wall students couldn't read it. I was shocked. But then I realized that they use calculators like gameboys and calculators were being allowed during state tests. Bye the way, eighth graders didn't know how to write in cursive. When do we say we need to stop things and go back the old way because they had to think or when is it time to move forward and go with the new. It is the same as slide rule or scientific calculator. I don't want to go back to beating my clothes on a rock at a stream. I love my digital washing machine (except when it breaks down.) As a society I feel we need to embrase the new and never move backwards.
How about you?'

I think that Manual may have already answered this question in his previous post. The key is balance. :) Decide your purpose for using the technology and then decide whether the new way or the old way better meets that purpose. For example, I like to teach my student how to hand graph, but I do not have them hand graph every assignment. There are times when it is better for them to use a spreadsheet to graph because it takes less time. I want them to see the big picture more than the details.

Pamela Auburn Pamela Auburn 68625 Points

There is an excellent periodic table app for the ipad - free

Lara Smetana Lara Smetana 6260 Points

This has been a lively discussion! Thank you for the several new resources.

Successful integration of technologies, whether it be cell phones, web resources, probeware, etc., requires consideration of the pedagogical challenges specific to the curriculum, students and classroom setting as well as how technology can be useful in overcoming these.
Thinking about how the technology enhances teaching, and science teaching specifically, is at the core of what is known as technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK).
The following website is a good starting place for exploring these ideas further. The “TPACK game” on this site has also been helpful to my students as they try to wrap their heads around the concept:
I'll be curious to hear everyone's thoughts on how this particular framework applies to their own experiences and situations.

Lara Smetana Lara Smetana 6260 Points

One additional resource that I will share that addresses several of the concerns raised in this discussion about the changing nature of the classroom and students is Marc Prensky's latest book, Teaching Digital Natives Just as the NSES promote the teacher as a facilitator of learning as opposed to a disperser of knowledge, Prensky describes the notion of 'partnering' with students in education, and particularly in a technology-enhanced educational setting, preparing students with the content knowledge and skills necessary for success as well as with the ability to apply those in an ever-changing world.

Jennifer Rahn Jennifer Rahn 67955 Points

I have been subbing in a district that has decided to implement a 1:1 technology program next year. They have a pilot program running right now, and the teachers are as divided about the concept as this forum. There are concerns over how the computers will be used in the classroom; right now, students tend to use the technology for purposes other than those intended. Also, a high school with over 1000 identical computers tends to run the risk of theft and damage. Kids who use books for hockey pucks are likely to do the same with their computers. Don't get me wrong - I think we need to implement more technology in schools. The world has changed, and just as I don't often use a slide rule (even though I find them instructive to explain things like logs) our students will interact with their world differently, and we need to prepare them for the challenges. But I also spent about 15 years developing technology. Even the best designed systems will not be properly used if we do not carefully design the virtual systems and completely integrate them into the real-world systems. How do we perceive our students using the technology, and how do our students perceive the technology? Is there a chasm between our expectations, and their use? Sometimes we also assume that our students are more adept at technology than we are. That may not be true - a recent college English I sat in on had the professor explaining how to set margins, spacing, and the like for a paper that the students were to write. Likewise, the professor, who is about my age, spent another class period demonstrating how to set up a blog. The students in the class are "digital natives." What this tells me is that they are not all digital natives, and those who don't have those skills will likely be at a disadvantage as they enter the work world. We need to design our systems to lead students to the skills they need to develop. As such, we need to become highly adept digital immigrants, with broad understanding of the changing technologies and deep understanding of how we will utilize the technology, and rubrics for measuring our own and our students' progress. Finally, we need to be willing to evaluate and adapt continuously to the changing tech scene. Schools seem to forget that. Most schools I have seen are using ten year old computers, because of the initial high investment. Technology is not cheap. Information business invest a tremendous percentage of their earnings in technology to remain competitive. Anyway, I suggest as a start to read the Prensky article in the included collection. We are looking at a brave new world, and we need to strategize to become competitive once more.


Maureen Stover Maureen Stover 41070 Points

by Adah Stock, Wed Nov 17, 2010 10:14 AM
I would like to open a discussion and pose the following questions:
[i][b]Do you use technology in your classroom?
If you do what do you use? What are you views about using technology?[/b][/i]
I am a huge advocate of using technology in our classrooms. Last year I worked as a digital educator. In this role, I used technology in my classroom and helped train other teachers at my school to use technology. Through a grant, our school was able to outfit every classroom in our school with interactive white board technology, document projectors, alpha numeric student response systems, MOBI slates, and projectors (each classroom already had at least 3 student computers before the grant). Although it did take several hours of initial training, by the end of the year each of the 24 teachers at our school used the technology resources during daily instruction. The overall feeling among the staff was that technology engaged our students and helped create excitement in our classrooms.
I really enjoy using the interactive technology in my instruction. I use the interactive whiteboard in every lesson. This technology is used to draw and write like a conventional whiteboard, but offers numerous advantages over markers alone. The notes that I write on the board are automatically recorded. I can then archive the notes (either for my review/records or for students who are absent from class to access from home when they miss a lesson). I can also create interactive lessons where students use my 'magic pen' to open a pop-up window or a magic flap, move objects into groups, write an answer, etc. We can also use the whiteboard for activities that elementary level students usually don't do. For instance, I did a virtual frog dissection with 4th graders. The students also have alphanumeric responders that are tied in to my computer via an IR receiver. I can ask either multiple choice questions or open ended questions. The students then 'text' in their answers (they LOVE this...texting in not only allowed, its encouraged! ;)) I get immediate feedback on my MOBI board (small slate that shows how the students are responding). I can set-up the board to display by table number, student number, correct vs. incorrect, etc. I can use this immediate formative assessment feedback to either reteach a topic or if one table all answers incorrectly, I know somethings going on at that table.
I was pleased to see a few other teachers mention Kindles/iPads. Think of how great it would be if students could have all of their text books, notes, and videos of lectures all on a compact, portable system.

Patricia Rourke Patricia Rourke 45925 Points

These conversations are great and as I peruse them and will return to them later, I want to ask who is using sensors and software to gather and to analyze data. Chime in and let us know how you use these tools as 'technology' in the classroom or do you not consider them to be technology. Patty

Kendra Young Kendra Young 17180 Points

Maureen, I love interactive whiteboards! We had one in our school that had to be shared and it was just sitting in an empty classroom when I came. The software needed to be updated and no one knew how to operate it. I took a free class, talked to tech support, and got it up and running. It was time well spent. Students love the ability to interact - I would love to see these in every classroom. Kendra

Patty McGinnis Patricia McGinnis 25645 Points

Hi Patty, I use Pasco Xplorers and have a variety of their sensors. I just working with a 5th grade teacher this week to design a lab where the children had to investigate microclimates both inside and outside of the school building. The students were amazed that the sensors gave a negative reading which led to discussions about how cold it was in fahrenheit degrees. Since we were looking at microclimates, the advantage to using sensors versus standard thermometers was that tiny differences in temperature became readily apparent to the students. I do consider sensors to be a form of technology; I like them because they allow students to focus on the data. In addition to more exact measurements, the students made fewer errors since they did not have to read an instrument.

Ruth Hutson Ruth Hutson 64775 Points

Patty wrote, “These conversations are great and as I peruse them and will return to them later, I want to ask who is using sensors and software to gather and to analyze data. Chime in and let us know how you use these tools as 'technology' in the classroom or do you not consider them to be technology.” Hi Patty, I use Vernier sensors and software in my physics class on a weekly basis. They are a must! I feel I teach physics better with them because we have reduced our experimental error when collecting data. I also find my students understand the physics concepts better as they relate to the mathematical formulas. They are able to collect data quickly and analyze the data they collect more effectively. They can eliminate bad data points when analyzing data. Sensors have been a great addition to my program.

Sue Garcia Sue Garcia 42675 Points

Should "Technology" be used in the "classroom"...just think of what we, as teachers, are supposed to do. I do not mean teach Reading, Writing, and Rithmatic. My "philosophy of Education" is to give my students ALL of the skills that they need to be successful in life. As times change, our goal do not change-just some of the tools. I taught math for 18 years; I took Calculus and Trig without a calculator and learned what I needed by dedicated teachers using the tools available at the time. As the tools became more advanced, I heard the same arguements for not using technology, that are being voiced now. Nothing has changed other than the tools. Not once has technology slowed down and our students are still having to go to school to learn "Reading, Writing, and Rithmatic". However, in order for them to be successful as adults, they need to know how to use the newer tools (technology). That is our job as the teacher. We are the ones who must adapt and create activities that will enhance the students use and application of this newer technology to aid in their education. There will always be problems that we must deal with and once that problem has been solved, then there will arise another one. That is what keeps life interesting...the journey.

Rachel Engle Rachel Engle 1575 Points

Yes, I use technology in my classroom. Currently I am using my lap top, a projector, an elmo, and a smart board. I also use DVDs and CDs. I love to be able to use the technology in my classroom. It is a great way to give the students access to the curriculum and what you are studying, in ways that just teaching from the book does not. It also gives the students a break from the teacher's voice in some cases. :)

LeRoy Attles LeRoy Attles 56550 Points

Yes I also use technology in my classroom. I have student computers, a promethean board and Cow which is curriculum on wheels. Having technology really meets the needs of visual learners. I forget how much I depend on it until something stops working.

Rachel Engle Rachel Engle 1575 Points

Me too LeRoy. You really do forget how much you depend on the tech until it stops working. Had that happen just the other day. Couldn't get my projector to work and it was thankfully something simple.

Sheena Tapo Sheena Tapo 355 Points

Do you use technology in your classroom? Yes, Daily If you do what do you use? Brainpop, Powerpoints, Videos, Simulations, Classroom Blogs What are you views about using technology? Essential

Lorrie Armfield Lorrie Armfield 51438 Points

I use technology daily in the classroom to actively engage my diverse student population (including those scholars who are English Language Learners and those with special needs). Such technologies include: PowerPoint Presentations; Student Response Systems (Clickers); lcd projector, video visualizer, video microscopes, computer with Internet access; textbook software (Prentice Hall); audio cds; digital cameras (for digital scavenger hunts and student portfolio documentations); and the Interwrite Board. I find that the effective and efficient use of technology not only allows you to do different things, but to do things differently.

Jessica Weedon Jessica Fagan 3795 Points

I use a lot of technology in the classroom. However, I wish I could use more. I am eager to get a digital microscope so I can project images. Currently I use a SMART board and my students use laptops. I have found to be a great resource.

Al Byers Albert Byers 4498 Points

All This discussion as Adah summarizes show the broad views and implications on using technology. The TPACK references I would chime in is a worthwhile, research supported effort to understand and plan how to effectively integrate technology into formal classroom learning. That said, I always like to follow each year's "Speak Up" survey results ( conducted by Project Tomorrow (Julie Evans, CEO, is an outstanding presenter by the way). It seems to capture a pretty good "pulse" of the trends of use of technology by kids. I would offer one observation from an instructional technologist point of for learning could be defined very simply as a tool that helps us extend and enhance our learning. The pencil is even a technology by this definition... As some have recounted historically, technology is sometimes perceived as the “boy who cried wolf,” herald as the next big thing that will transform education (e.g., Radio to TV to Laserdisc, then the Personal Computer with CD-ROM, then DVD, now BlueRay). Then toss in the latest wave of smart phones and tablets (iPads) connected to the net with GPS capabilities "built-in" and bluetooth to access portable science probes. There a great commercial (I think by Sprint), that promotes 4G, and quickly migrates through a selected series of technologies--each one knocking the prior one down--including the Saturn V rocket. It seems there is and will always be technology used to facilitate learning in the classroom, and when it's availability becomes ubiquitous (everyone has and uses it and cost for access not a barrier—radio, TV, cell phone), it then pervades the normal landscape and is "ingested" into the conglomerate of all the other existing technologies. The old ones don’t go away. We leverage the best they offered and continue to use them in various ways (digital TV with DVR, or radio that is now accessed and more customized via satellite don't now not use Radio, or TV, the media delivered by them (text, images, video) is really now just more accessible, more personalized via a digital format on different devices. So it maybe is more about...what are the attributes/features of a certain technology, the delivery mode in when it is accessed, and what instructional strategies might be leveraged to maximize the chance for learning to occur. Using technology to conduct inquiry is also how scientists learn, so it is not a "bad thing" in and of itself. Policies for tech use in schools usually trail for myriad of reasons (e.g., safety, equity, appropriate use, etc.), but the wave of technology integration in schools has and will continue to occur and lag behind that in general society (not necessarily a good thing), as the chasm grows, kids "power down" more and more when in school--and motivation wanes. Power to those that are using technology to support their efforts as it becomes more transparent in our daily lives.

Ronaldo Relador Ronaldo Relador 45315 Points

This video actually discusses more than technology in the classroom, however, I thought this can make us all ponder where and with what do we compete as teachers in the classrooms in the minds and hearts of the students. As we teach, the students also travel in the world more sophisticated, and more predictable in the form of ipods, PSP's, multi-media gadgets.

Lorrie Armfield Lorrie Armfield 51438 Points

Ronaldo, great video. Thanks for sharing. As educators, we know that the effective and efficient use of technology has the power actively engage our diverse student population in ways that more traditional resources could not. Technology not only allows us to do different things, but to do things differently. We are very fortunate in Prince George's County to have access to such tools as Interwrite boards, educational textbook software, LCD projectors, video microscopes and visualizers, computers, etc. We are even blessed to have science coaches and intructional specialists who can facilitate trainings on the use of such tools. It is noteworthy to mention, however, that if educators don't properly plan the use of technology to help our scholars develop the enduring understandings needed to transfer their knowledge of the science learned in the classroom to their world outside of school, then technology will be nothing more than a mechanism for babysitting, as the PSPs, Playstations, XBox 360s, etc.

Rebeca Cambray Rebeca Cambray 200 Points

Hello! I am currently a student in Elementary Education at Southern Illinois University. I have been doing various hours in field experience and have noticed the increase in use of technology in the classroom. One technology tool I had heard about being used in the classroom, but believed it to be a myth as I had never seen it, much less could have imagined it, was cell phones. I was pleased to hear about various ways that teachers in this forum have implemented the use of them in their classroom successfully. I was also very interested in seeing how some teachers also found ways of using iPods in the classroom, something I had never considered. Thank you for opening my eyes! Keep the ideas coming!

Lorrie Armfield Lorrie Armfield 51438 Points

Hi Rebecca, below is a lesson that incorporates the use of cell phone technology.(Note: I know you're interested in elementary school lessons; this particular lesson is designed for 8-12 grades). This lesson is designed for science teachers who are interested in harnessing the power of cell phones in instruction to prepare for a standardized test and was used in a class where the teacher allowed students to bring cell phones to class. The lesson was created by: Jason K. Suter (his information is located at the end of the lesson). Lesson Overview: This lesson is intended to review past science material for an upcoming standardized science exam by incorporating a current event. Lesson Description: In our middle school science course we have been preparing for the upcoming standardized tests by exposing students to current events that relate to material from past science lessons. We normally do this by having the students blog outside of class about various current event articles. However, this particular lesson took place in the classroom. We decided to have our students take a closer look at President Obama's decision to build new nuclear power plants in the United States. This lesson would easily be adapted to any current event issue that has a pro and con side. We began the lesson by creating an online poll using This poll asked students whether or not they believed it was a good idea to build new power plants in the United States. The students had the option of voting with their cell phones or logging into our content management system and following the available link to vote with a laptop. Due to the students willingness to share cell phones, all students voted in the poll long before the first laptop was logged in. After the students took the poll they were given two articles. The first dealt with President Obama's plans and the second discussed the pros and cons of nuclear power. The students read the articles in groups of two or three and were told to write three to five main points from each article. After the students finished reading and writing their main points they were instructed to come to a group consensus on the topic. The group was asked to summarize their opinion in 1 to 2 sentences and post it using their cell phones to a Wiffiti board ( Once all the groups comments had been posted, read, and discussed the students watched a two-minute video ( that served as a great summary of the discussion. The lesson came to an end with the students once again taking the same poll they took in the beginning of class. Poll Everywhere enabled us to instantly see that after doing some reading, talking and thinking about the issue, many had changed their opinion. Here's How... We did some pre-planning before the cell phones were used in the classroom. We did this by using this Google form to survey our students to learn more about their cell phone use and access. Based on survey results we ensured all students who didn't have cell access were partnered with someone who did. We also had students use the online bulletin board to post possible rules for using cell phones in the classroom. Their ideas are posted here We used this as our class's acceptable use policy for cell fancy district or school policy required. Additionally we sent this letter home with the students to explain our intentions to parents. We set up in advance Poll Everywhere, Wiffiti, Google Survey, and Wallwisher accounts as described in the useful resources section. Written by: Jason K. Suter - [email protected] Title:Teacher Subject(s) I Teach: Physical Science, Biology, Environmental Science Grade(s) I Teach: 8 - 12 City, State: Hanover, PA Blog:

Lorrie Armfield Lorrie Armfield 51438 Points

Attached is another resource on using cell phones in the classroom as an instructional tool.


Al Byers Albert Byers 4498 Points

Lorrie Thank you for your thoughts and contributions. I agree with your comments about appropriate instructional planning for integrating technology. Some might call this technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK). It is a framework to help teachers understand the intersection of their content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and technological knowledge. All Maybe consider checking out: Left hand vertical nav menu for different discussions on the topic.

Ronald Rightweiser Ronald Rightweiser 250 Points

I am a senior at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. I will be doing my student teaching in the fall. Technology is a great way for students to get engaged with science. I read a post that stated technology will take the creativity away from the students. How can teachers keep students from becoming too dependent on the new technology?

Patty McGinnis Patricia McGinnis 25645 Points

Hi Ronald, Rather than stifling creativity, I think that technology encourages it. Give the students a camera to create a film or microphone to create a podcast and you will see creativity emerge! If you take a look at Bloom's new taxonomy (, you will see that creativity is now at the top of Bloom's; i.e. can the student create new product or point of view? What better way to create a new product or point of view that through the use of technology? Suddenly every student, regardless of ability, can be involved in a creative venture that exhibits their understandng of a complex concept. My only caution would be that the content comes before the bells and whistles. For example, no camera is put into student hands before a script is written out and animations cannot be utilized in Power Point presentations until the content is complete.

Jennifer Rahn Jennifer Rahn 67955 Points

There are so many ways that we can use technology to enrich our students' experiences. Instead of using technology as an end, use it to support and expand your curriculum. We read science fiction in middle school science, and students use blogs to discuss the literature in their circles. This helps them learn to formulate and express an opinion as well as share a discussion. Just be sure the ground rules are established before beginning. I also like to use technology informally. The other day a class finished a quiz unexpectedly early, and it seemed that they did not feel much like studying, so I started up the smartboard, and brought up a sudoku puzzle. I asked how many had tried to do the puzzles (useful for introducing deductive reasoning) and only a couple had. They started out by coming up to the board and entering the missing numbers, and explaining their approach. Soon the effort became informal, and by the time the bell rang 10 minutes later, I had at least a dozen kids at the board collaborating on a rather difficult puzzle. Of course, I could use it to project powerpoint-like materials, or I can use it to encourage students to interact as a group to learn new materials and interact as a group. The other day I set up a math bingo game on the spur of the moment. It was fun for the kids, and it cranked the enthusiasm up a notch. Technology is only a tool, like a hammer is a tool. Some people only hammer nails, but others find new uses. Others find new ways to fasten things together. Any good tool should be adaptable to many purposes, and with a little creativity, we may find entirely new ways to accomplish the same things. It does not mean that we are controlled by technology, but that we need to master it. I think we probably have many participants on this forum who are quite creative in their technology use, and it would be great if they could share.

Amanda Bublitz Amanda Bublitz 30 Points

I completely agree with the idea of incorporating technology in the classroom. I also agree with the fact that some people do not use it as often because they are afraid of it. I am one of those people who are intimidated by it because I have never been very technologically inclined. But that is something that I am going to have to get over because I want my students to learn and gain as much as they can from my class in the future. So in order for me to get over my fear of technology, I am going to have to learn more about in in order to become a more effective teacher for my students. Sincerely, Mandy

Jennifer Rahn Jennifer Rahn 67955 Points

Good for you Mandy! Just do a little thing. The next time, you will do more. Just remember it is a tool, and you own it! I am curious. What about technology intimidates you? I love to use technology, because it allows me to do so many things. I am not a "digital native" as our students are, but I guess I just embraced it as being fantastically useful when used for "good." But I think most teachers are not ready to embrace many of the tools available to them. What are your thoughts?

Eric C. Sandberg Eric Sandberg 8690 Points

Do you use technology in your classroom? Yes and no, I am a science coach for my district and work in four different k-5 buildings. Technology implementation varies from room to room and school to school. If not why not? (Don't say no because I don't have a budget for it. There are ways out there to acquire it cheaply or even free.) If you do what do you use? Some classrooms are limited to weekly access to a laptop cart or computer lab. Others have Prometheon/Smart Boards, elmo document cameras, lcd projectors. What are you views about using technology? I think using tech in the classroom is an essential piece to the future of teaching and learning. Our kids need to use technology as an access point to learning. Our kids deserve the best!

Kevin Newman Kevin Newman 610 Points

I use technology in my classroom. I feel that if we don't we aren't honestly preparing our students to be competitive on the world stage once they graduate. I know there are many teachers who are technophobes but honestly we jsut have to move past this. I am in the process of moving my classroom into the present technology wise and I must say there are grants out there for getting that done. In a small rural reservation school without technology the world would be a much smaller place for my students. This allows our students to interact with places and people they might otherwise not get to meet or see. I feel it also opens up a world of possibilites to our students as well.

Kim Berry Kim Berry 185 Points

So glad that I popped in here! What great resources you all are sharing. I am actually privileged to teach Technology Education and Pre-Engineering. I use a lot of technology in my classroom and am always searching for more. I LOVE the cell phone lessons which is something that I am really pushing. I want to be able to show students how to use that very powerful piece of equipment as a tool. Another interest that I have is integrating social networking such as FaceBook. Students are on use and using it. I have created a classroom facebook group that students can join. Once they are accepted, they will receive updates relating to technology in the world.

Lisa Coughlin Lisa Coughlin 1070 Points

I think this is a great discussion that is going on. Thank you everyone for sharing all of your resources. I am a big proponent of using technology in the classroom to improve student learning. I am fortunate to teach at a school that has a 1:1 laptop initiative. I love that my students can access different resources via their computers that I would not be able to provide for them in the classroom. I just got back from a conference in Philadelphia called EduCon and realized that there are WAY more things I can do to incorporate technology into my classroom that would directly benefit student learning. Teachers at the conference were using a lot of social networking sites such as twitter, moodle discussions, cell phones to have students interact both in the class and outside of it. Some of the classes we saw had students IMing throughout the class period talking about what was going on in class. Others did a discussion in class where they started it on the computers but wrapped it up by talking about the topic as a class. I believe that it is extremely important that students learn how to use technology appropriately and that technology is not thrown into a lesson just for the sake of using it, but when technology is used effectively it can offer tremendous benefits to students' education.

Angie Fairweather Angelika Fairweather 12180 Points

I am currently pursuing my graduate degree in Instructional Technology. Why? My last couple of years teaching, I have been at a middle school where 90% of the student body is on free or reduced lunch. The majority of students are not comfortable on computers. I had to show many how to turn on a computer. No matter how hard we work to get them ready for college, if they do not understand computers they will be eaten alive on a modern college campus. I feel empowering students with understanding technology will help prepare them for their future. We can not even imagine the jobs our students may have 20 years from now. I love the laptop initiative and would like to find more information. Besides teachers using technology, what are ways we can help our students learn the technologies they will need to be prepared for college and the modern workplace?

Wendy Ruchti Wendy Ruchti 24875 Points

I don't know if this is the best place for this but it's so cool, I had to share it. Our students do a service learning type project in our advanced teaching with tech course. One of our students, Antionio Ruiz, created inexpensive document readers (like an ELMO) for teachers for under $100. I've attached his Powerpoint to tell how he did it. It is pretty darn ingenious. He said the powerpoint took longer to make than the lamp conversion. The PowerPoint DOES have an .exe file embedded to run the webcam as a full screen. I mention this because anti-virus software may flag the exe as suspicious. (I couldn't find the website where I originally got the program from, so I couldn't just link to it.) The software will work with any webcam that has preexisting drivers installed you can even select from multiple connected webcams (but the quality is limited to the capabilities of the camera you select).


Heather Burns Heather Burns 460 Points

I've just started my pre-service training in elementary ed, and for my science methods course I need to give a brief (15 min) presentation on the use of technology in teaching science. I've done some research, and there's alot out there! There are so many directions I could go with this, so many aspects I could cover (tools/instruments, activities, websites, pros & cons, school policies, accessibility). Since I lack classroom experience it would be really helpful to hear from some experienced teachers. What's most important for pre-service teachers to know about using technology in science teaching? And what are the most commonly used technologies in elementary classroom today? Thank you! Heather

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92326 Points

Heather asked, 'What's most important for pre-service teachers to know about using technology in science teaching?'
Hi Heather, Good luck on your presentation! I teach science methods to preservice teachers, and I think many of my students are not aware of some of the outstanding web-based technologies that they have available to them as teachers. I think my students are very technologically savvy. They just need to know what's available. One in particular comes to mind:
The Virtual Lab
The Virtual Lab archived webinar explains this software tool that simulates a scanning electron microscope. Teachers and their students have free access to this amazing technology once a year. The NSTA website provides access to so many of these experiences. It will be fun to see what other technological resources other thread participants have to share with you.

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92326 Points

I noticed that the Learning Center is offering a new webinar on the Virtual Lab on May 25th. Here is the URL to register: The Virtual Lab
The NASA Explorer Schools provide all the information you will need to use this tool: 'With this virtual tool, your students have access to high-powered simulated scientific instrumentation with 90 different specimens and three different virtual tools: atomic force microscope, scanning electron microscope, and fluorescence light microscope'.
It is so cool!

Angie Fairweather Angelika Fairweather 12180 Points

Heather posted above "What's most important for pre-service teachers to know about using technology in science teaching?". Heather you are right about a million different ways to go on this topic. The Virtual Lab resource Carolyn recommended is amazing and it is something you could do to model the application during your presentation. One of my goals with technology is to put the technology into the hands of the students instead of my use of technology to aid instruction. To locate some great sources of K-5 students using technology, I did an advanced search in the Learning Center and entered the keywords "using technology" and selected "elementary school" as a filter. The search results included a journal article with a fantastic 5E lesson plan using digital microscopes to investigate flowers (attached below). Digital microscopes are easier for children to operate and they will become so excited when they discover the new microscopic world. Heather good luck with your presentation. Thank You, Angie


Heather Burns Heather Burns 460 Points

Thank you Carolyn and Angelika for your suggestions! I will certainly use them. Heather UMBC elem education student

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92326 Points

Let us know what you decided to do, Heather.
Rebeca, Lorrie and others who are interested in Cell phone classroom applications may be interested in knowing about a few of the NSTA journal articles on this topic:
Tech Trek: hang up and learn - Cell phones in the science classroom (Science Scope, July, 2010)
Tech Trek: Cell Phones for science (Science Scope, January, 2010)
Science Sampler: A five-step approach to planning for technology in new science spaces (Science Scope,Sept. 2006)

There were also a few articles about the hazards of cell phones:
Cell-Phone Use and Cancer: A Case Study Exploring the Scientific Method (Journal of College Science Teaching, Sept. 2007)
Health Wise - March 2009: Cell Phones & Teen Brains (The Science Teacher)
Cell Towers and Songbirds (Science Scope, Nov. 2009)

Hmmm - do we need to worry about using this technology in the classroom? Is there definitive proof that cell phones are hazardous to the health of songbirds AND humans?

Sandy Gady Sandy Gady 43175 Points

Technology just took another turn for the best and personally, I can’t wait to play some more. A couple of months ago, Asus introduced the ASUS Eee Slate EP121-1A010M 12.1-Inch Tablet PC. For those of us that have always loved our tablet laptop, that we can swivel in a moment’s notice and begin writing with a tethered pen as if it were a yellow pad, it appears our dreams have been answered. This tablet has all of the features of my tablet laptop with the heft of an i-Pad. One of my adult students had one of these in the Algebra class I was teaching last night. Dillon whipped out his pen, opened One Note, (another teachers godsend by the way), and began taking notes faster than I had ever imagined. There was no shuffling of paper, he could toggle back and forth to the online text and split the screen, writing notes while checking out the problems in the book. This tablet is 12.1 inches, easy to handle, has incredible resolution and a lot of accessories that will make any PC turn green with envy. In many places there is a waiting list, but in my neck of the woods, all I have to do is go to my local Microsoft store and they have the tablet on hand along with a bundle that includes Office products, case and pen for just under $1,600 and loose change. I would love to hear if anyone has had a chance to use tablets in their classrooms.

Sandy Gady Sandy Gady 43175 Points

At a recent technology conference, I had the opportunity to learn about Google Apps and all of the possibilities it holds for student success and going green. The workshop I was in showed how a journalism teacher was using Google Apps to publish their school newspaper, where students, parents and staff could all edit and submit articles in real time, making it easy for the newspaper to be relevant and up to the moment. The presenters also shared how they used the same technology they were using with the newspaper to keep their website up to date across the school daily. As I watched and listened to other content areas share, I couldn’t help but wonder what could we do with this tool in Science or STEM curricula? I would love to hear how folks have implemented Google Apps, or other similar applications successfully in their programs.

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