Technology in the Classroom

Introduction and Background

This section of my web site highlights the integration of technology across the curriculum at George Mason Middle School and High School. I work closely with teachers to develop lessons and units that are dependent on or enhanced by technology. I have selected a few for special recognition.

English: Spoon River Project
Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters is required reading in the 10th grade curriculum. Each student analyzed several poems and created a web page to reflect their learning. These were organized as links in a collectively designed web site. Each poem which mentions another person is linked to that individual's web page.

Science: Plant Growth
This project is an extension of the seventh grade unit on the needs and characteristics of living things. Throughout the second quarter, students grew Wisconsin Fast Plants through a complete life cycle. They observed, measured, identified, and described the changes in the plants during their 40 day life cycle. Students worked in groups to design their own experiments to examine how these plants respond to changes in their environment which affect their basic needs (shelter, water, energy, and stable internal conditions). They were given the opportunity to work with spreadsheets as they constructed tables to organize their data and graphs to display their results. The groups then communicated the results of their projects through PowerPoint presentations.

Social Studies: PowerPoint Jeopardy
The "Jeopardy" template I created has proven very useful for students and teachers alike, especially reviewing for the end of year Standards of Learning (SOL) exams which rely heavily on recall of facts.

Math Exploration: Green Globs and Graphing Equations - an analysis
This program has been on the market for over 15 years. It has outlasted similar more expensive programs, which have been marketed with far more hype. I believe that this is because it is a well designed, motivating and visually appealing program that is a useful tool for teaching the specific SOLs as well as fostering an exploratory mindset in the students who use it. 

This program is designed to be used with the active participation of the teacher in creating a classroom atmosphere where open inquiry is practiced and valued. I believe this is a strength since the value of the teacher in the instructional experience is recognized as important.

While the specific SOLs regarding the relationship between equations and their graphs are mastered, the student is learning a more general lesson. Mathematics is not a series of formulas to be memorized but a structured universe to be explored.

English as a Second Language (ESOL) "Welcome to GM"
Our Spanish ESOL students collaboratively created this Powerpoint introduction to help newcomers to our school become familiar with their environment. They used a digital camera to photograph important people and areas of the building. The text is in English but the voiceover is in Spanish. This is a large (4MB) file and not appropriate for download with a dial-up connection. We plan to refine this presentation and add voiceovers in additional languages.