Auburn University preservice elementary teachers need to graduate with the knowledge and skills to impact students in a technological world. Currently, preservice teachers are digitally savvy. They own devices (iPhone, Laptop) yet they lack the digital skills and strategies to integrate technology effectively and intentionally into their teaching.
- Using the iPads throughout their coursework, preservice teachers have the ability to explore content, device features, functions, tools, and strategies prior to the Elementary Education Summer STEM camp, to support student learning. Therefore, as they are planning their STEM camp lessons they are mindful of the tools available and the level of technological integration.
- The iPads are a strong tool in education. They offer airdrop of student work, recording, and photography options for both teachers and students. Apps such as Goformative.com serve as an assessment for teachers to collect evidence of student learning, and applications that elementary students use to safely explore the internet, research, and experience content. Frequent opportunities to use this technology help build preservice teachers’ first-year toolbox of digital strategies.
- Many students in the STEM camp come from low socio-economic backgrounds, Title 1 schools, and lack technology support at home (device & internet). The use of iPads during our camp supports not only our preservice teachers as they progress toward their first-year teaching but also students who come from technology disadvantaged environments.
- Ozobot is an inexpensive, useful tool for students to explore robotics, coding, engineering, technology, scientific principles, and mathematics. Ozobot is a small robot that can be utilized in kindergarten through grade 6 to explore measurement, design, and code robotic movement, problem solving, and forces in motion.
- Ozobot challenges students to create paths and codes that can then be measured and recorded. It encourages meaningful data analysis; students can record their experiences using the iPad, and are able to explore the scientific process as they create new challenges for Ozobot. Ozobot follows the marker trail, but different patterns can challenge the code of Ozobot to do things such as turn around, go fast, go slow, change colors, etc… This is an effective introduction to coding and robotics. However, its impact is also as a motivational and real-world tool to teach literacy, science, and mathematics principles and skills.
The classroom teacher ultimately decides the level of technology integration, which is an enormous responsibility to put upon a first-year teacher. NCTE (2013) stated teachers must be proficient in teaching with technology tools, yet many teachers are competent using technology, but not the functions and features to support student learning. There is no better way to build proficiency than through hands-on teaching experiences (iPad, Ozobots, etc.). Our preservice teachers need to have multiple experiences teaching with technology, in order to generalize what they learn beyond the specific device. During our methods courses and our summer camp experience, teachers use iPads as well as other digital tools and Apps (Ozbots, Dot and Dash…) to provide meaningful learning experiences in STEM fields as well as literacy. These materials allow our preservice teachers to experience teaching with technology as we provide outreach to elementary students in the summer STEM camp and in our partner schools where preservice teachers teach.