Teacher Preparation

Arizona State In-Service Teachers Take Tech to School

A recent "technology integration showcase" gave in-service and experienced teachers at an Arizona school the chance to share what they'd learned from their experiences attempting to integrate technology into their classrooms. The event was the culmination of a grant-funded program focused on teacher candidates attending Arizona State University's Teachers College.

In 2014 the college received a $50,000 grant from the Jane A. Lehman and Alan G. Lehman Foundation to run a technology-infused version of its "iTeachAZ" program. iTeachAZ doubles the amount of time that future teachers spend in the classroom, from one semester to an entire school year. Each student-teacher is teamed up with a mentor teacher.

The grant allowed the student-teachers at Avondale Elementary School District #44 to add technology into the courses where they were teaching. The anecdotally-reported result: Children learned faster and were more engaged. Lessons were individualized and classrooms became paperless.

"It was night and day to see that the students who had been disengaged from the lessons — even defiantly not participating — were the ones who created the most abstract and creative presentations," said Hayley Hoskin, an Arizona State student, in an article on the program. Hoskin, who is teaching a grade 8 math class at Avondale, noted that her students created animated stories and wrote a song to explain proportion. "It was nice to see how it reached every kind of learner in the classroom."

Lynda Scott, who serves as Arizona State's coordinator with the Avondale school, applied for the technology program to find out the impact of putting technology into the hands of her school's students. Previously, she pointed out, while student-teachers would use videos and games in the classroom, rarely did the students have the chance to do so.

"A lot of people think that classroom management would get worse with technology, but we could see that classroom management was better because the kids were so engaged in what was happening and they were listening," she said.

In her classes, Scott modeled for both the student-teachers and their mentors how to integrate technology appropriately. "We knew it would not be perfect," Scott said. "We knew there would be times when the kids wouldn't use it appropriately. One day our Internet was out. We had trouble with the apps. But I told them, 'This is going to happen in the classroom, so what's your Plan B?'"

Among the findings shared during the showcase earlier this month by both student-teachers and mentors:

  • Students learned more quickly. One student-teacher, Lola Dominguez, who uses a storytelling app, said her first graders "listened the first time, and they got it the first time";
  • Assessments can be faster. Experienced teacher Rebecca Haines, who has been in the classroom for nearly 30 years, experimented with Plickers, a formative assessment app that allowed her second graders to answer questions on a card with a barcode. That allowed her to know immediately how many got the answer right. "It's a quick and easy assessment, and it helps our understanding of what they understand," she said; and
  • Engagement was greater. Hoskin, for example, said that while her eighth-graders weren't required to work on their projects at home, most did.

Now, the grant money is gone. But Arizona State's pre-service teachers said they hope to continue using the devices, apps, videos and other gear as part of their courses. Lindsay is on the hunt for additional funding to expand the program to other schools that the university works with. "I would like to find a donor who says 'This works, I can see it.'"

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.