I am completing my observation hours in an 11th grade American Government class. In my observations at Cleveland Heights High School, students have plenty of interaction with technology, but very little structured interaction with each other. In the time that I spent in my classroom, the students did not have any chance to collaborate. Of course the students still talk and interact with each other informally, but they do not have structured time together. They messed with each other, talked about events that were relevant to their lives, and generally chatted as they did their work. Not all of this interaction was harmless, though. In a couple of instances, I witnessed students cheating by talking during a quiz or letting another student copy their work.
Students in the classroom that I observed used technology on a regular basis. In Cleveland Heights, each classroom has a cart of laptops for students to use while they are in that classroom. The teacher takes full advantage of these laptops, as much of their class time is spent on them. Students take quizzes on a site called Socrative. Socrative allows the teacher to get immediate results on each individual students, as well as whole class results. This allows him to see how the class did, and what questions the students as a class struggled with. This tool helps him to see where students need more help or if he needs to reteach a section. As a review, the students also competed by playing a game of Kahoot!. This game is a fun way for students to go over important content, and it allows students to compete against each other to earn points and come in first place. This game is fairly successful at engaging students in the content, but its one downfall might be the fact that it values speed and quick answers rather than true understanding. I also found it interesting that students had access to not only a physical textbook, but also an online textbook and some tools that came along with it. For example, students completed a “matrix” about the Bill of Rights in which they were asked to answer questions to complete each section of a table. One issue that pops up frequently when students use technology is cheating, and it reared its ugly head as the students completed their “matrix.” One student was able to go onto Google and find a rubric to the assignment and simply copy the answers. In this situation, the teacher caught her and she was forced to redo the assignment. The teacher informed me, though, that this was not the first time a student had been able to find answers online and exploit them. Although technology was very much involved in this classroom, most, if not all of it, was still based upon the written word. There were not many instances of different types of media being utilized.
As far as their own outside technology use, virtually all of the students are active in some way on social media. Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok especially. These apps all use aspects of multimedia entertainment. These networks allow students to gain skills working with pictures, videos, and other types of media.