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Andrew Plemmons Pratt was a 2010 D.C. Region corps member and is a regular blogger for EdTech 101, Teach For America’s technology blog for corps members and alums. Pratt sat down with 2009 D.C. corps member Jin-Soo Huh to talk about his first school year as an ed-tech leader in New Orleans.
AP: What is one ed-tech tool you can not live without?
JSH: If you’re in a 1:1 program with iPads, tablets, or laptops, Edmodo is so valuable for teachers. Plus, it’s cool for students because it’s like Facebook for schools. For teachers who are wary of technology, it doesn’t necessarily change the delivery of a lesson, because you can still put a quiz online or an exit ticket or upload worksheets as pdfs. It also lets students share instant feedback and has personal learning network tools for teachers built right into the platform.
AP: What is a significant instructional breakthrough or student achievement gain that an ed-tech tool has helped you achieve?
JSH: It’s definitely been Socrative. The ability to deliver good checks for understanding is a skill that teachers try to master for years and years and years. But with Socrative, you can instantly see exactly who gets it and who doesn’t get it and how well they got it. Before Socrative, I wasn’t able to go around and get every single student to respond. With it, I could adjust course immediately. You’re able to see exactly what level of understanding students have.
AP: In your current position, you are integrating technology in a high-performing school that is beginning its exploration of technology. Where do you begin?
JSH: I think the big thing is to show other educators how technology can help them meet the goals they have for their students. Part of this is just making teachers aware of the tools out there. There are so many great tools , like Classdojo, MasteryConnect, and ThreeRing. It can be daunting sifting through all of the options to find the best tools out there. So starting by sharing tools is great. From there, it’s about showing how these tools are actually used in the classroom to overcome skepticism. What are you supposed to do with an iPad? Showing a model where technology is integrated and enhances or transforms a classroom illuminates what is possible. It is critical to show that the technology is not just flashy, but is a medium through which deeper learning can occur.
AP: How are you using these tools in your math classes?
JSH: I’ve launched a fully technology-integrated class. Students come in and do their warm up on Edmodo. They then watch a video lesson that I’ve recorded or one that I’ve found online. Students can re-watch parts at their own pace, then they answer a question on Socrative. I get their answers on my iPad and check in immediately with any students who made a mistake and immediately provide remediation. I’m able to pull a small group while other students are still engaged and learning. The social aspect of technology is also huge. A student can make a video or write an ebook about what he learned in class and share it with not only his class but with people all over the world. Ultimately, I would like to leverage technology better to have my students use and develop their creativity and problem-solving skills.
AP: What’s on the horizon for ed-tech in New Orleans that’s got you the most excited?
New Orleans is a great city to be for ed tech right now. There’s a strong focus on education and an emerging tech scene. Organizations here like 4.0 Schools are pushing people to innovate in education. I started an Ed Tech MeetUp group to facilitate the sharing of tools and techniques between educators, parents, developers, and others. Schools here are recognizing that if our students are going to succeed in this increasingly technological world, being digitally literate will be crucial. I’m excited to see more schools here better leverage technology to provide a strong education to our students and to help teachers do their jobs more effectively.
AP: What kind of tool do you wish someone else would build?
JSH: Especially now, with so many startups, it would be amazing if there was one program that could pull data from every program I’m using and put it in one place. This would allow teachers to use whatever program they want. I’m encouraged by the work groups like AlwaysPrepped and Clever are doing in this area.
Jin-Soo Huh teaches high school math at Collegiate Academies in New Orleans. During his three years teaching sixth grade math in Prince George’s County, he led the charge to integrate iPads into classroom instruction.