With so many types of software it is sometimes difficult to know which ones to include in our lesson plans. First, as an educator we must know the full scope of what is available to us and how to integrate the software into our classrooms. There are 5 categories of software: Productivity, Research, Communication, Problem-Solving, and Educational. We already use many of these software tools without giving it much thought, Microsoft Word Documents, Apple Works, Excel, the Internet, email, blogs, wiki spaces, and SMART boards. All five types of software can easily be incorporated into a lesson. Beginning with the students introduction to the lesson, the use of Problem-Solving and Educational software could be used as an effective and engaging way to teach the subject matter. Including the use of games, simulations, tutorials, and drill and practice software all could be integrated into the lesson plan easily, especially if there is a computer lab or laptops available for all students. Secondly, with the use of search engines on the Internet which is Research software the class can further their knowledge on the subject at hand. While on the Internet, students would then be able to use Communication software to share, comment, and educate their classmates. Students could use a discussion board, a blog, or wiki space to facilitate this process. Lastly, with the use of presentation software like PowerPoint, which is in the category of Productivity software, this can be used as an assessment tool for the students to create a final project on all of the information they have gained. Obviously this would be a lot of work for a Kindergartner, however my daughter created a PowerPoint presentation in 2nd grade and a wiki space in 3rd grade. These software teaching tools can be implemented at an early age.
So the question arises as to why a fourth-grade student should learn to use a spreadsheet, database, or video editing software. First and foremost we must educate our youth to be successful in our technologically advanced world. A fourth grader is competent to understand and perform these functions on a computer. The textbook describes how spreadsheets allow students to perform calculations and create graphs with the information they have gathered. The spreadsheet software will display patterns and trends that the student can then analyze. Databases are fast and efficient ways for students to retrieve information that has been stored. Rather than going through page after page of written notes, one can manipulate the database with the simple click of the mouse. This process could then be recorded using digital video editing and uploaded to the class website. The use of spreadsheets, databases, and digital video editing in a fourth grade classroom is in alignment with the ISTE NETS and meets the NC DPI Essential Standard 4.TT.1.2.
Lastly we are asked how the use of different types of software can help improve scores on state tests? The text uses renaissance Learning Accelerated Reader (AR) as an example of educational software that can help with test scores. This software is used at my children's school, Hillsborough Elementary, and I remember the first conference I had with Mackenzie's third grade teacher and she showed me this print out from AR. I was not only impressed that such software existed but the range of information available to me, the parent to see my daughter's progress. The use of AR in the classroom while preparing for End of Grade (EOG)tests makes perfect sense to me on many levels. Not only does the use of AR in a computer lab offer the teacher efficient classroom management, each individual students are being met at the same time therefore receiving one on one attention through the computer and its integrated software. The state of North Carolina has proposed the use of computers for testing in the near future. I have linked the information below.
Computerized Adaptive Testing
In the last year, the use of Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT), a testing system that provides a customized assessment for each student based upon his/her level of knowledge and skills, has become a subject of many state and national conversations. As states seek to provide more and better data to enhance classroom instruction, the CAT seems to be a compelling tool. Data from CAT could provide more precise information than traditional tests about which concepts a student has mastered versus those for which the student needs additional instruction.
The multi-state SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium - of which North Carolina is a governing state - has placed Computerized Adaptive Testing as a central component of its proposed assessment system for the Race to the Top Assessment Grant. If the grant proposal is accepted, member states will have the option to implement the CAT system fully online in the 2014-15 school year or use a comparable paper and pencil assessment. Starting in the 2016-17 school year, all member states will have to use the fully online system. The NCDPI released a report to the Board that discusses the benefits and challenges related to implementing a Computerized Adaptive Testing system in North Carolina. It can be found on the ACRE website under Resources and Publications at http://www.ncpublicschools.org/acre/resources/.
Morrison, G.R., & Lowther, D.L. (2010) Integrating computer technology into the classroom, skills for the 21st century. (4th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson
North Carolina state Board of Education (2010) Computerized Adaptive Testing. retrieved from