Friday, 19 January 2018

Which innovative tools work well in a Science classroom?

I taught my first class when I was 18 years old.  I was fortunate enough to enrol in a Concurrent Education program, meaning I was working on my undergrad while taking education courses, and after final exams in April, I would spend the month of May practice teaching.  It’s been - wow! 13 years since then.  A lot has changed in the classroom since then, most notably the technology.  In that time, overhead projectors have become redundant and  document cameras are a necessity.  Teaching strategies have evolved too.  Thanks to social media, teachers no longer have to wait until a book is published or for a professional development day to be exposed to new ideas.

I’m glad to see tech companies investing in educational tools.  However, not every innovation fits in a high school Science classroom.  I feel Science is a different animal compared to other courses.  The demand on students and teachers is huge.  We have an extensive curriculum to cover that relies heavily on numeracy and literacy skills.  Teachers and students want to have hands-on experiences to amplify the learning, and we have to leverage these experiences with time and safety.  

Which innovative tools work well in a Science classroom?
I’ll be testing out different tools and judging their benefit in my classroom.  For each tool, I’ll perform a cost vs. benefit analysis.  

Cost is more than money:
How much time does it take for the teacher to prepare?
How long does it take students to become proficient?
What is the learning curve like for this tool?
What are the limitations of this technology?
Can this tool work effectively with BYOD (bring your own device)?
Does this tool negativity impact the teacher-student relationship?

Some of the benefits I will consider:
Does this tool improve learning?
Does this tool engage students?
How does this tool affect the classroom culture?
Does this tool improve the relationship between teacher and student?
Does this tool foster independence in the secondary science student?

I have a number of tools and technologies in mind for this review.  If you have an idea that you’d like me to review let me know in the comments?  What innovative tools and technologies worked in your classroom? Which ones were fluff or flops?




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