Many times we, in the educational field, discuss incorporating technology in the classroom in terms of the hardware that we use, such as ipads, Smartboards, and document cameras. However, these pieces of hardware by themselves have no impact on student learning. It is the applications that may be utilized with these technologies that even have a chance of effecting a student’s learning. Even still, technological applications must be coupled with best practices to achieve 21st century skills fluency and make the greatest impact on student learning.
Following the classroom-level integration model ASSURE, I will demonstrate the use of a computer game to create an integrated learning experience for students to meet instructional objectives in a fifth grade classroom.
The following process will follow the ASSURE method of ID Development as an example of how other teachers may incorporate technology and 21st century skills into their classroom.
Lesson development begins with identification of learner characteristics associated with the achievement of learning outcomes. In this 4th and 5th grade combination classroom, students fit the mold of “digital natives,” having a depth of experience working with multiple hardware platforms and a multitude of software applications. Students also have limited, but general background knowledge of United States history, moderate geographical understandings and skills, and very limited, if any, understanding of economic theory. The students learning styles are fairly typical for upper elementary students with a fair mix of auditory and visual strengths.
State Standards and Objectives
Standards to be covered originate from the 5th grade Colorado Common Core in the areas of reading, writing, communicating, history, geography, economics, math, and earth systems science. Learning objectives were created from these standards specifying target behaviors and conditions required for performance, as well as the degree to which the new knowledge or skill must be mastered.
Select strategies, technology, media, and materials/ Utilize technology, media, and materials
Using the learner analysis that identified the students’ present knowledge, skills, and attitudes towards the skills and content to be covered, the following strategies and technology were chosen to meet the learning objectives:
1) The use of guiding questions were implemented to focus and deepen student learning, develop writing fluency and note taking skills, and give a basis for formative analysis of acquired content knowledge.
2) Multiple sources for content acquisition were provided that included text and multi-media.
3) The game “Civilization Colonization” was selected to both provide a simulation of realities of the time period, exploration and colonization of the New World (1492 – 18th century), to base inquiries upon, and to engage learners thinking in the inter-relatedness of history, geography, economics, and social dynamics.
4) Using best practice strategies such as group work roles, and student conferences, students engage at depth with members of their group to discuss strategy, compile a timeline, keep track of financial interactions, reflect on social dynamics, create maps of landforms, available resources, and trade routes, engage in both diplomacy and espionage, and investigate important historic individuals both in their historical impact and their simulated impact on the game.
Require learner participation
The kind of learner participation that the instructor requires of the students has a profound impact on the degree to which students both meet the learning objectives and retain the skills and knowledge that were acquired. With the use of guiding questions written to higher-order thinking skills to focus the learners’ mind on key concepts, rubrics to detail quality writing expectations, group conversations to clarify understandings and address misconceptions, detailed examples of quality group role work, and clear behavioral/social interaction expectations students’ have the opportunity to “practice with and apply new knowledge or skills and receive feedback to guide learning before being formally assessed.
Evaluate and revise.
The formal and summative feedback loops allow for instructors to evaluate the unit or individual lesson on how it achieved the specified learning objectives, utilized technology, and the effectiveness of the processes used. This evaluation is then used to make instructional adjustments in the lesson by the instructor, make adjustments to future lessons, and the unit as a whole for future use.
Lowther, D. L., & Ross, S. M. (2012). Instructional designers and P-12 technology integration. In R. A. Reiser & J. V. Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and issues in instructional design and technology (3rd ed.) (208-214). Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.