So many times teachers defend their ability to integrate technology in the classroom because administrators do not realize the folly in their semantics. The question is not whether they use technology, but whether students have extensive opportunities to use technology. The teacher’s job is to integrate it across the curriculum, not simply use an overhead in a mastery style lesson. Teachers should not put students’ future success on the back burner because there is no time for the internet or use of technology. Literacy is deictic; teachers should be, too (Leu, 2002).
The previous rant is a desperate cry for more suitable technology integrations across the curriculum. Here is an example of an internet workstation used to guide fourth graders through the water cycle. Student pairs will cycle throughout the week according to the previously set workstation rotation.
First, students are given a goal, or purpose. The fourth graders need to understand the role of the sun as a major source of energy in the water cycle (Texas Educational Agency, 2007). Student pairs will use http://kids.yahoo.com/directory/Science-and-Nature/The-Earth/Ecology/Water-Cycle to collect data and information regarding each stage of the water cycle and its relationship to the sun using a graphic organizer (backup url: http://www.kidzone.ws/WATER/). The organizer has four blank squares positioned in a circle awaiting the four stages: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection. Each state will be then be explained within the boxes (Canter & Winberry, 2001).
Subsequent to the data collection period, students will use the data to write a reader’s theater to describe the water cycle. Students will use water droplets, the sun, and all the various elements that make the water cycle a cycle. After completion of the draft, students will word process their final draft.
Technology is a wonderful addition to the 21st century, but a necessary addition to 21st century teaching. There is not enough time in the day for specific technology instruction, but through extensive integration activities, students will have the opportunity to learn what it is like to be literate in a technologically advanced society (Canter & Winberry, 2001).
Canter, L. & Winberry, K. (Directors). (2002) Program 5: Integrating Technology in the Literacy Classroom. [Motion Picture]. In C. Arnold (Producer), Planning and managing the literacy classroom. Los Angeles: Laureate Education, Inc.
Leu, D. J., Jr. (2002). Internet Workshop: Making time for literacy. The Reading Teacher, 55(5), 466–472
Texas Education Agency. (2007). Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills – Fourth Grade. Austin, TX. Retrieved July 1, 2008, from http://www.tea.state.tx.us/teks/grade/Fourth_Grade.pdf