My Use of Technology in our Curriculum at Suffield Academy

Interdisciplinary Connections Writing Process Brain Research Suffield Academy Return to Bill's Home Page Evaluating Tech Projects

Below are three reasons why I use technology in my English curriculum. I have highlighted in bold red text the specific software that we used for the particular task; click on the links for student examples.

In the spring of 2002, I received a laptop grant from Suffield Academy; the Computer Science department supported me with a new Mac iBook to help me use technology more deliberately and productively in my classes. I began to teach all my students to maintain their own web page in the fall of 2002. Teaching students to set up a basic web page only requires requires one thirty minute September time slot; interestingly, these student web pages grow quickly and individual student voices emerge. These student pages also endure as electronic portfolios.


Explore and Emphasize the Writing Process


Interdisciplinary Connections

Brain Based Conference

Click here for the link to the conference that I have been attending regularly.


I have learned so much from these conferences, and each time I read brain research material directed towards helping educators, I refuel my creativity tank and brainstorm new technology assignments that will help students foster long term memory. If we all remember that the hippocampus is the place in the brain stores long term memory, then we as teachers must wonder how can we set up assignments and activities (besides field trips) that access that region on a regular basis. As more brain research shows that the hippocampus only functions when one is calm and stimulated, teachers should also ask what environment, atmosphere and assignemtns encourage meaningful moments for long term memory building. Moreover, brain research also shows in many ways how the brain loves to discard meaningless information and make patterns and connections with important material. With this in mind, I think that structured technology assignment can become fascinating ways for students to engage with the curriculum and build personal projects that will encourage students to know more about each other in class. Thus, I try to create assignments that have my students marinate a curricular piece with personal, cultural and historic connections. Then, when we share each other's pages, this process also helps create an atmosphere where students care about each other and are comfortable taking risks.


Evaluating Technology Projects

In my expectations page for each year, I specify for students what percentage of their grade stems from technology assignments. I will often email the students directions for each step of a project and then demonstrate in class these steps with a volunteer (usually someone uncomfortable with technology) in the driving seat, which is our technical term for the person whose computer is projecting on the white board. When we finish an important or interesting project, I have students help me with evaluations. I will have students establish a grading rubric and criteria, which usually blends design with content. Then, I will have everyone call up his or her web page on the computer in front of them, and then we will wander around the room and view classmates' web pages as if we were in an art gallery. Sometimes soft background music and finger food help create this atmosphere.

Beyond the classroom: below are two pages from students of last year. They are currently using their English Page from last year to host additional projects from this year.


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