“It seems a waste,” writes Hechinger’s Meghan Murphy. Despite “millions of educational apps, millions of lesson plans available online, millions of laptops in the hands of students,” few teachers “find ways to infuse technology into their lessons.”
Teachers say they need more and better training, she writes. In a 2015 survey, 90 percent of teachers said technology was important for classroom success; almost two-thirds wanted to integrate it into their lessons, but said they needed more training.
A nonprofit and several teacher-founded companies are developing interactive training methods to help teachers use digital tools effectively.
Jessica Anderson has “blended” her ninth-grade earth science class in Deer Lodge, Montana. She’s is the state’s Teacher of the Year for 2016.
On a day in December, a girl worked on her laptop to illustrate the cycle of water through the atmosphere, while a boy used Google 3-D glasses to take “a virtual field trip, researching various ways that communities across the globe use minerals.” Each student was on a self-directed path, writes Murphy.
BetterLesson, founded by former teachers from Atlanta and Boston, provides “master teachers” who help someone like Anderson “create a strategic plan for doing blended learning” and a way to measure effectiveness, writes Murphy. “The team then meets along the way for coaching, feedback and accountability.”
When Jessica Lura taught a lesson on mood in writing, she used a PBS Kids video as a hook for her eighth-graders at Bullis Charter School in Los Altos, California, writes Murphy.
By the end of the lesson, they’ll have written sentences in various moods, written and recorded a monologue, and made that monologue come to life with an animation app.
Lura’s teaching is captured in the “Lesson Flow in Action” video on Graphite, which is Common Sense Media’s portal for teacher resources. Common Sense featured Lura because she’s one of their certified educators who integrates technology comfortably into her classroom. Her lesson plans are hosted with about 2,200 other lessons on the site, which also has almost 12,000 app reviews accessible to its more than 310,000 teacher members.
Another sites, Teachers Pay Teachers, provides free and paid resources. Teachers have earned $175 million for their lessons.