Over the semester I have had the opportunity to observe two different high school classrooms. One at North East High School and the other at Euclid High School. Both schools are unique in their own ways, NEHS is a rural town high school where as Euclid is a city high school. Both however incorporate technology into their classrooms, teaching, and assignments.
Both classrooms I observed had classroom sets of computers shared by their departments. Euclid had Chrome Books and NEHS has IBM computers. At NEHS there are iPads available for use, but those must be checked out in the library unless a teacher requests to use them in their classroom. Both schools have computer labs, however Euclid’s have become more of a classroom because they had to make room for the 8th graders to be in the building for the school year. There is no lab technician in the lab at NEHS however they do have an IT department that is housed in the middle school building. Both schools have both guest and student/teacher wifi. The firewall on both of the wifi blocked twitter and Facebook, but did not block items such as Instagram or Snapchat. The technology is available to the students, but unless it is necessary for the lesson, then the teacher does not have them out for use. One of the classes I observed at NEHS, it was small enough that the teacher took the students down to the library to use the computers available there because there were only about 9 students to the 15 computers. Neither of the teachers I worked with had much of any say with the technology the school used, I was not able to speak with those who were in charge of the technology at the schools, but both did have someone who was in charge of the school IT departments.
In the classroom, the students are using laptops primarily, if they are using any technology. At Euclid, the teacher did incorporate cell phone use into her lessons because she knows its a prominent issue with her students paying attention in class, so she used that asset to her advantage. Cell phones are the biggest technology that is impeding the learning of the students, especially at Euclid. I asked a few of them why they are constantly on their phones and if it hinders their learning. They all admitted that it is a distraction to their learning. They did however say they would use it as a spell check or means to look up information they did not understand from the lecture. Anytime the laptops are used in either classroom, they are used with the intentions of completing the assignment. I had the opportunity to glance at what the students were doing on them one class period at Euclid, and all were doing their assignment. Both teachers used their smartboards to facilitate lessons, notes, and videos being used during the class. They had their lap tops hooked up to them to project the material. The teacher at NEHS was issued a laptop to use for her classroom uses, but it seemed as though the teacher as Euclid used her own laptop. Overall, cell phones were the biggest issue preventing learning in the classroom. The smart boards and laptops were only used to promote learning amongst the students and exploring on their own to complete the assignments.