Advances in technology have expanded the classroom walls well beyond campus and into the Internet. Allowing students access to more than pen, paper and textbooks empowers different types of learners. Teachers can differentiate between their students, providing resources that meet their needs. These resources can vary from hardware, like tablet computers, to Internet-based solutions, like teacher websites. Middle school students can engage with content and classmates through technology, giving them more ownership of their learning.
Numerous activities, from apps that monitor student progress to virtual field trips, offer middle school students choice in their learning. Tablets provide a wealth of free apps, such as study tools, writing programs and math assistance, allowing students to practice vocabulary and other concepts on their own time. Middle school teachers may pre-select apps to help empower student learning, but students can choose when to access these tools.
Classroom Without Walls
Internet and cloud based technologies empower middle school students by allowing them access to classroom conversations without physically being in class. A number of word processing and presentation programs allow students to communicate online while collaborating, allowing students to work on projects at the same time in different locations. Additionally, technologies like email and classroom-based social networking sites allow students to communicate with the teacher outside of class time, asking questions as they have them.
A cell phone is often the first piece of technology with which middle school students are trusted. Allowing their use in the classroom allows middle school students to demonstrate their trustworthiness. Students can utilize many of the features of phones for uses as varied as recording videos for presentations to using on-board calculators. Some schools are create QR or Quick Response codes, linking projects with essays on class websites, where interested students can learn more about a given topic. Additionally, cell phones offer a less expensive alternative to tablets and laptops, offering equity as well as empowerment in the classroom.
Document cameras empower middle school students by offering them the chance to see their own work on the big screen. Students can build confidence by having their work shared and can also learn from each other's work. They can edit and revise writing based on student samples, which makes the work more meaningful. Students can also use the document camera to observe small details on artwork and artifacts. Document cameras empower students, because they allow everyone to see the same item, whether artifact or student writing, at the same time.
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