Technology plays a huge role in children’s lives these days. It’s helping build better teachers, better students, better classrooms, and build leaders of tomorrow. As someone who learned how to make a powerpoint presentation in college, it’s amazing to hear that children who haven’t even graduated to middle school are able to apply this beneficial skill in both the classroom and at home. Parade magazine’s editor in chief, Maggie Murphy joined me for an interview recently to discuss just how technology is helping teachers build a better classroom, resources available to both parents and teachers, and how to keep kids safe while surfing the world wide web.
Candace Rose: How is technology helping teachers build a better classroom?
Maggie Murphy: “Well, I think that technology is playing a huge role because it’s helping bring the classroom more to life and creating what’s likely going to model the way kids are going to work in their work lives. You’ve got to think about it – kids today are being prepared for jobs that we haven’t yet invented, so technology has to be there just like your basics: your ABCs. But managing that technology is the role of teachers and parents and making sure that we’re giving it to kids appropriately is part of the puzzle we haven’t always figured out yet.”
Candace Rose: What are the resources available to both teachers and parents to help bridge the gap between school and home?
Maggie Murphy: “Well, I think there’s a number of things. Obviously the advances in computer technology has allowed for things like notebooks and tablets that are much more affordable and on the go. Kids are doing their homework online, downloading it. My daughter used a Powerpoint to argue why she deserved a bunny. Kids are really technologically savvy and I think teachers are using that to say ‘Okay, you can do a book report, but maybe you want to do a video report or do a Facebook page’.
I think for teachers the other thing is Bing.com/Classroom, which is a way you can find out about search engines. You can use ‘Bing in the classroom’, which is a guided search. It was role modeled here in New York, I saw an example of it that really keeps kids safe and not searching something or finding something in search that you really don’t want them to see. I think managing that is one of the ways that we can really help guide kids on the right path.”
Candace Rose: Are there specific products and services schools are using that parents need to know about?
Maggie Murphy: “Well, I think Bing.com/Classrom provides a lot of information about what Bing and Microsoft are looking for. I think the other thing that teachers and parents need to do is they need to have a conversation at the beginning of the school year where they ask ‘Suzy gets a tablet in the fourth grade, how will that tablet be used? How can I reinforce that?
On the weekend and in the summer as kids get ready to go back to school, are there programs that will help them in terms of refreshing their math or their reading skills? I think that’s where the old fashioned communication conversation makes sense. Sending your teacher an email and saying ‘How do you want us to communicate during the year? And how can we communicate effectively?’ Sharing information all the time, not just when there’s a parent teacher conference, but giving insight on what’s being done in the classroom so that you can really then follow that up at home.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?
Maggie Murphy: “Well, I think everyone should read the Parade.com ‘How to Build A Better Teacher’, which gives you insight into the way we’ve learned how teachers teach. It’s not just about personality, but it’s about methodology, trial and failure. The best teachers know how to take a wrong answer and make it a right and really engage students and create connectedness. This can be learned like everything else. Parade.com and Bing.com/Classroom are the resources that can help your school catch up and be on top of the technological evolution going on.”