Using Technology to Motivate Middle School Students |
Throughout the last decade, educators have witnessed an explosion in the amount of information available through use of the Internet and other technologies. The possible impact of these new technology applications in the classroom is immeasurable.
For middle school teachers and students, the research is highly supportive of the use of technology integration in the classroom. Middle schools that develop challenging curricula of an exploratory nature are emerging as models in the field of technological integration.
What motivates the pre-adolescent?
Middle school students learn best when they are actively engaged with the content. When students participate in hands-on, inquiry-based learning, they develop lasting skills that often translate into higher levels of student achievement. Lessons that include technology applications provide teachers with ways to motivate students into becoming active, real-world learners.
Computer-based strategies help students develop higher order thinking and problem-solving skills. Participation in real life applications included in technology-rich teaching environments promotes students' abilities to draw analogies, infer relationships, predict outcomes, and analyze data.
How does technology increase learning?
Middle school teachers who implement technology into their content areas report encouraging results. As students are busy manipulating data and learning by doing, involvement in their own learning increases along with enthusiasm. Students are no longer passive recipients of knowledge; they become active participants in the learning process. The learning environment is positively affected by the use of technology-based instructional strategies.
Planning for Success
Before integrating technology into content lessons in middle school classrooms, teachers should be sure that:
Suggested Activities: WebQuests, Digital Portfolios, and E-Pals
- lessons are aligned to national and local standards.
- ample time has been spent planning the instruction.
- necessary resources are available (computer lab, Internet, and software).
- alternative assessments that measure student success have been developed.
WebQuests are inquiry-based activities in which groups of students interact with knowledge acquired from resources on the Internet and make sense of the new information.
|Six Critical Components of a WebQuest
||Provides background information and generates relevance and enthusiasm
||States the objective; must be developmentally appropriate and tied to subject content
|List of sources
||Include all Web documents, links, databases, and other resources that can be accessed to complete the task
|Strategy or Process
||Describes the step-by-step process students should use for task completion
||Measures student learning. Rubrics are commonly used with WebQuests
||Wraps up the quest and encourages enrichment or extension of material learned into other fields
Digital Portfolios are creative ways of organizing and sharing collections of students' work and ideas. Traditional pen and paper portfolios include samples meant to be shown as products created by the author. Digital, or electronic, portfolios provide a clearer, more creative means for displaying the same information. Student portfolios may be used for a variety of purposes. They may display the final or culminating product for a large project, or show student progress in a course over a semester or other period of time. Whatever way portfolios are used, they have several advantages.
Benefits of using digital portfolios:
E-Pals are global communication Web sites that allow students to correspond with other students in the United States and around the world. The databases are easy-to-use and can be integrated into any classroom. Projects can be implemented with other classrooms or E-Pals can be accessed simply to share information or compare ideas.
- Increases student's technology skills
- Focuses on student-centered learning
- Promotes creativity and ownership
- Creates student products that are durable and portable
- Makes materials easy to access
Whichever exchange medium is selected, there are a variety of uses and benefits to communication with other students via the Internet.
Reasons to use e-mail exchange services:
The National Middle School Association supports the use of technology integration in middle school classrooms. The Internet and the revolution in technology that has taken place in the last ten years has become a powerful tool for education. Research indicates that technology can have a positive impact when successfully incorporated as part of the middle level curriculum.
- Introduces a safe method of using e-mail
- Motivates student participation
- Creates cultural awareness
- Supports communication skills
- Establishes a collaborative learning environment
- Facilitates foreign language use of English language practice for English Language Learners
This article was contributed by Tara Musslewhite, Social Studies Department Chair at Atascocita Middle School in Humble, Texas. She is also an instructor of Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities at Kingwood College.