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Posted 06.14.07


Book to Help Teachers Take Advantage of Technology

New book gives teachers ideas for the digital age

COLUMBIA, MO - Instead of thinking of iPods and laptops as distractions, teachers should embrace the digital age and use technology as a classroom tool, according to a University of Missouri-Columbia education professor. However, many teachers just aren't sure exactly how to do that. A new book from the professor outlines technology based social studies lesson plans for grades kindergarten to 12. The book covers everything from podcasting in the classroom to using digital movies to study history.

"We have to prepare students for today's society, and if we are not using technology in the classroom, then we are not preparing them adequately," said Linda Bennett, editor of the book and associate professor in the MU College of Education's Department of Learning, Teaching and Curriculum.

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A lesson on economics uses the simulation software Lemonade Tycoon to help students experience what it takes to run a business. Another simulation teaches history by putting students into 'pioneer families' preparing to travel the Oregon Trail in the 1800s. The students must use Excel spreadsheets to pack their wagons, take virtual journeys and participate in weekly online chats with other students across the nation who are taking the same virtual journeys.

"There are many tools including the Internet that teachers have not considered. In the classroom, teachers can use Google Earth when teaching geography," Bennett said. "Cars now utilize Global Positioning Systems (GPS) for navigation, so it is important for students to be able to understand satellite images.

Teachers also must learn new classroom management skills, according to Bennett. Common issues now include dealing with online bullying and online cheating and plagiarism.

"Besides just the usual classroom rules, we now have to start teaching children how to be good 'cyber-citizens' and that there is a right and wrong way to use technology," Bennett said.

The recently published book - "Digital Age: Technology Based K-12 Lesson Plans for Social Studies" - was commissioned by the National Council for the Social Studies. It was authored by classroom teachers across the United States and co-edited by Michael J. Berson, professor of social science education at the University of South Florida. The ideas in the book meet National Educational Technology Standards.



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