Spotlighting Kevin Anderle, 6th Grade Science Teacher
Riverside Middle School, New Castle, CO
"The way I teach today didn't exist when I was in college.
During my junior year of college, a professor told me that I was training for a job that didn't exist yet. It was hard for me, at the time, to believe him. I was training to become a teacher. Teaching is a job that has been in existence for hundreds of years. Surely it would continue to be a job for hundreds more. In the middle of my fifth year of teaching, however, his statement has proven to be true.
I remember playing Oregon Trail on ancient Macintosh computers when I was in grade school. I used a floppy disk to save essays in high school. When I was student teaching, I used PowerPoint on a desktop computer to teach history lessons. My first few years of teaching I was fortunate to be able to use a mobile laptop cart a few times a month. Every year, technology was playing a larger role in my daily life and job. The iPad arrived on the scene during my third year of teaching...my classroom was in for a big change.
I currently share a class set of iPads with my teaching partner. My students have an iPad in their hands whenever possible. The majority of that time is spent on Edmodo and Discovery Education Science Techbooks. Students in my class also use Doceri to create screen-casts in order to show their understanding of a concept.
Edmodo provides a clear and safe format to communicate with my students and parents. I can direct students quickly and accurately through the web. I also can send groups of parents emails and text messages regarding classroom activities.
Edmodo allows students to collaborate with peers from other classes in a safe, teacher-controlled environment. We recently finished a research project in which students compiled and evaluated information with partners in multiple classes.
Our Science Techbook features standard aligned content that is current and interactive, as well as engaging. Student assessments are graded instantly and provide clear feedback to the students and to me. Students and parents can access the techbooks 24 hours a day with any device connected to the Internet. In addition, I am able to adjust assignments for individual students needing enrichment opportunities, extra practice, or struggling with a language barrier.
In past years, students took mostly paper/pencil assessments in my class. However, with Doceri, students are able to create screen-casts instead. My students using Doceri were much more engaged and showed a deeper understanding of the material. The seventh grade teachers told me that the students even remembered some of the information the next year! Any middle school teacher will tell you that this rarely happens.
Technology hasn't changed the content of what I teach. It hasn't changed necessary components like collaboration, research, peer review, assessments, textbooks, make-up work, and differentiation. These have been part of teaching long before Edmodo and iPads. Technology has changed how I teach, how I communicate with my students, and how my students communicate with their peers and me.
Student Product: Student demonstrates understanding of biomes and ecosystems by creating Doceri screen-casts.
Every time my students use their iPads, I think back to what my professor said. He was right; the way I teach today didn't exist when I was in college. His statement holds true, even more so, for my students. I hope that their time in my classroom is a positive step in preparation for any job that exists in their futures.