Preparing Pre-Service Teachers to Integrate Technology
Into Secondary English Language Arts Instruction
INTIME, a project funded by a U.S. Department of Education grant, is designed to help prospective teachers learn how to incorporate technology into their classrooms to facilitate student learning. The INTIME program provides a contextual framework for integrating technology into the classroom and showcases a series of video scenarios demonstrating how successful PreK-12 teachers have effectively used technology to foster learning in their classrooms. Methods teachers in a variety of content areas revised their courses to model technology integration, using the video scenarios and online discussion forum, requiring pre-service teachers to apply technology in their lesson plans, and implementing the Pre-service Teacher Competencies as exit criteria for their courses. Methods teachers also shared strategies for integrating technology and course revisions with other faculty involved in the grant through a variety of activities.
I used the resources of the INTIME grant for teaching EG 490: The Teaching of English in the Secondary and Middle-level classroom during the Fall 2001 semester. We discussed the "Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model" and, throughout the course of the semester, explored ways to use technology to teach the English language arts. We also watched and critiqued the video entitled "Publishing Haiku Poems With Avid Cinema" by Julie Carter. After viewing the video, we explored how Ms. Carter used technology to demonstrate the connections between spoken, written, and visual language; how she used technology to help students write their own haiku, illustrated with music and photos; how she used technology to foster collaborative learning in her classroom; and how students used technology as a tool to find resources for their creative projects. After observing and discussing the video, each student wrote a personal reflection on this learning activity, focusing on the advantages and disadvantages of using electronic resources for composing in the classroom.
Because of the INTIME project, I revised my course in a number of ways. I used a new core text in the class—Jim Burke's The English Teacher's Companion, which contains a chapter on "Digital Literacy" and a chapter on "Visual and Media Literacy."
Also, since this was the first time I had access to a SMART classroom, I was able to infuse technology throughout the whole semester. Throughout the course, we were very intentional about looking for opportunities to use technology in the teaching of the several components of English language arts—reading, speaking, listening, writing, and viewing. My students were required to use technology (the ELMO, the Internet, and Power Point) in making class presentations. They were asked to find and share with the class electronic resources for teaching Shakespeare, a poem, and a grammar lesson. They used technology to design brochures, highlighting the value of writing, which they then share electronically with the class. They also were required to include the use of technology in their final unit lesson plans (Teacher Work Sample Units).
Based on an informal assessment of student learning, I feel the use of technology helped my students become better learners and practitioners. They were excited about finding electronic resources to help them design and teach lessons. They were required to find and summarize for their English Teacher Idea Handbook at least one idea per week or incorporating technology into the English classroom. Students seemed to take greater care in preparing their assignments because they knew they would be sharing them electronically. Their daily assignments and lesson plans were also richer and more appealing because they included materials accessed electronically. They realized and demonstrated that technology could assist them in designing scoring rubrics. Most students became more proficient and confident users of technology as the semester progressed. And all of us were more conscious of and apt to look for places and ways to use technology to teach English language arts.
Near the end of the semester the students were given a post-test, measuring their skills, and completed a self-evaluation of skills and attitudes towards technology. Even though EG 490 is not a technology course, my students showed a 29% positive change in their self-evaluation of computer skills and attitudes toward technology.
During the 2001 Fall semester, two colleagues and I shared our experiences with the INTIME project at an Idea Exchange Session for the Kansas Association of Teachers of English Conference held in Wichita, Kansas. Several conference participants asked questions about using technology in the classroom, expressed an interest in the INTIME program, and told us they would check the website.
I wish to thank the Renaissance Group consortium and the faculty of the University of Northern Iowa for the opportunity to participate in this program.