Middle/High School Integration Scenarios

Read the first scenario below, and discuss it with your colleagues. Is this a good use of technology? What could be better? What would you do (be specific) to help raise the quality of integration? When you've completed scenario one, read scenario two and discuss the same questions.

Scenario One

Mr. LaPointe has been searching for web-based resources to help him teach geometric transformations to his 10th grade geometry class. In his five years of teaching, he has discovered that spatial reasoning can be a very difficult concept for many students to grasp. While he really likes the text series available to him in his geometry class, he knows that trying to learn 3D concepts from a static 2D page is part of the problem. In conducting his own search of the Internet for interactive math and science resources, he recently discovered the Shodor Education Foundation’s Interactivate website. After previewing many of the available applets and lesson suggestions, he’s identified two different tools that will help him introduce the different types of geometric transformations to his students. The first tool, Transmographer, will help him illustrate how to plot basic shapes on the Cartesian coordinate system and then demonstrate how to translate, rotate, or reflect that shape. He really likes this tool because it is restricted to a beginning level of transformation. It only uses three basic shapes and it only works on reflecting across a vertical line. Mr. LaPointe believes that scaffolding instruction and tool sophistication will be more beneficial for his students in the long run.

Once they are comfortable with conducting transformations using the Transmographer tool, he intends to introduce the Transmographer 2 tool that allows for more difficult applications of transformation. He realizes he could save class time and just introduce the harder tool because it will offer all the same features of the easier tool; however, he knows that the tool might get in the way of his students’ learning if they are confused by the many options. One of the other features of the Interactivate website that Mr. LaPointe really appreciated, was the “what?”, “how?”, and “why?” buttons available with each tool. As he was exploring the website and evaluating the resources, he found these buttons to be extremely helpful in getting him to think about his teaching of these concepts – especially, his goals and reasonable objectives. The information gathered from exploring these buttons really helped him focus his instructional use of these tools. He especially appreciated the suggested open-ended exploration questions that were provided when he visited the “what?” button. In fact, he printed them out and used them to guide his questioning and instructional direction when he introduced the tool to his students.

Is this a good use of technology? What could be better? What would you do (be specific) to help raise the quality of integration?

Scenario Two
To spice up a sometimes dull unit on economics, Mr. Cortez introduced the business simulation, The Ice Cream Truck to his sixth graders. He had worked with the language arts teachers, as well as the other math teachers to see if he could come up with a project that would address a number of standards, so he could keep this project running for a while. The students worked in teams to name their business, paint their truck, and choose posters and music for advertising their ice cream products. Each team received a Business Ledger (template prepared by Mr. Cortez) which they were to use throughout the simulation to keep records of their expenditures, their sales, and their profits. Once everything had been explained and demonstrated, the teams were allowed to start using the program. At the end of each business week, they had to analyze their week and fill out a report. Mr. Cortez periodically called a meeting of the “Better Business Bureau” (away from the computers) to give the students a chance to share their learning with each other. At those times, he made a point of introducing/reviewing economic terms the students had learned in previous years such as producer, consumer, inventory, cost, price, division of labor, supply/demand, profit. Early in the project, a class database was created to track the financial profits of each team. Mr. Cortez would take a few minutes each Friday to show a summary of the whole project to the class. During their work time, students used spreadsheets to help them keep inventory and financial records. Twice during the project, teams were audited by the IRS (Mr. Cortez) & fined if they were not keeping accurate records. They had the option of writing an appeal letter to reverse the fine. At the end of the project, the students learned how to sort the database to determine which team’s business had the most success. That team was rewarded with free ice cream! It took Mr. Cortez severy tries to really get the project running smoothly. At first, he was very hesitant to try something this in-depth. Now, however, he says he'd never go back to the basic book and worksheet mode - students simply zoned out.

Is this a good use of technology? What could be better? What would you do (be specific) to help raise the quality of integration?