By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki
I had an interesting chat with Educator Ilna Colemere, who helps familiarize student teachers with technology applications they can use in the classroom. Her students love the Curriki site, because they say it “provides a wealth of resources indexed by several searchable tags.”
As Instructional Technology Coordinator for the Office of Teacher Education Services with the University of Texas at San Antonio, Ilna works with about 500 students each year.
How important do you feel technology is in aiding student learning?
Technology adds another dimension that isn’t available with a book or other tangible object. It can be used by one person or shared across a group – and the group doesn’t even need to be in the same room. Multimedia technologies can be very rich, community-driven resources that provide real-time learning.
However, it’s important to remember that the strength of student success with new technology does not lie in the device, software or app. The strength lies in the instructional facilitator and his/her ability to guide and encourage thinking outside the box. The teacher is the key and the technology is another tool.
What do you feel is the single, most impactful technology employed in classrooms today?
There really isn’t one single technology, especially with new technologies coming out every day. Handheld devices and robotics are popular in classrooms today. And there’s a huge push for students to learn coding, which is a valuable skill that involves a lot of logic.
Multimedia is everywhere. It attacks all the senses, and it’s instantaneous. Speaking of multimedia, MIT has developed software that captures the vibration of an object to determine the impact of noise levels on living and nonliving objects – an activity that involves math, science, social studies and technology. If we’re able to apply this to seismic activity, perhaps one day it could be used to predict earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. True example of thinking outside the box!
Technology can be both good and bad. We must make sure the resources are credible and support ISTE standards. Be a good digital citizen.
How has Curriki helped new teachers better engage their students?
The assumption is that all young people are tech savvy, but that’s not always true. We’re seeing all levels of proficiency and exposure – some are technology experts, others struggle. Because our student teachers are new to the teaching profession, it’s difficult for them to look at teaching materials with a critical eye.
That’s why Curriki is so useful. Curriki is a multimedia treasure. All the materials have been vetted by teachers, each with a different voice and perspective. Curriki gives student teachers a good idea of standards and answers their questions: “Is this resource valued?” and “Will this meet my teaching objectives?”
What are your favorite Curriki resources?
I like the technology workshops. And I like the ability to save curated resources in “My Curriki” so that I can easily find them again.
I also use the resources that relate to [state of] Texas, even if we are not Common Core, because they focus on a central core of knowledge and skills.
And finally, I recommend Curriki Groups to my student teachers as a place where they can collaborate on specific topics, get new ideas and share best practices. For example, one group I recommend they join is the STEM Group.
How do you accommodate different learning styles?
Not everyone learns the same way and our new teachers don’t want to have to visit dozens of sites to find the different resources they need. Curriki has everything in one place using all forms of media, from lesson plans and units to curated resources. And because all these resources have been vetted by “real” teachers, Curriki gives these new teachers the confidence in the material to meet instructional needs.
Why do you do what you do?
I’ve been an educator for 40+ years, having taught from pre-K to adjunct at the university. I believe the role of a teacher is to empower students to learn for themselves.
If you could tell teachers one thing about Curriki, what would it be?
Sign up for Curriki! It’s only takes a minute and it’s free. Curriki provides a rich collection of cross-curricular materials easily integrated with the adopted state curriculum. Plus, you’ll be able to collaborate with other teachers and use, share and customize the thousands of resources available on Curriki.