Technology Changes – Your Lessons Should Too

Jeff Herb wrote this blogpost in November of 2012, and I annotated it to highlight a few points and share my own thoughts on it. I think it is without a doubt a good read as we all struggle with what technologies we should use in our classroom. I especially need to think through these steps carefully as I scour the Internet and App Store to find resources that will be of great use to you.

Technology Changes – Your Lessons Should Too – Instructional Tech Talk via kwout

I think the biggest points that I could pull out of are the following:

1. “Do not use technology for the sake of using technology.” I believe many teachers get frustrated with technology because they are not sure what to do with it. When those feelings come to surface, then the devices are not used for their proper intent. Since laptops/iPods/iPads are really tools for learning, let’s compare that to a common, ordinary tool. If you use a hammer for something other than what it is intended to do, you will become frustrated with it and not know the true value of it. In fact, it will probably become the opposite, and that is destructive. You need to know the tool well and understand what it is intended to do. If you intend for it to be a resource just for information, it will be just that. If you intend for it to be a resource to practice skills, that’s all it will be to the student. If you intend for the tool to be an opportunity for student to create digital content to demonstrate their learning, that’s what it will be.

2. “Teach with tools that excite you.” This is true not just with integrating high-tech devices such as laptops or iPads, but any resource that you use for teaching. I remember how excited I was when I realized how useful pattern blocks were for teaching fractions. Prior to that, I never used them properly because I first of all didn’t see the value in it. Second, I wasn’t excited about using them. Once I realized how they can help students conceptualize fractions, I think I used them for an entire week of teaching fractions with slightly different variations. I was excited about it and the students could tell. The students see right through you if there is no desire to teach a lesson or if you are not excited about using the tool that is set before them.

I encourage you to read the article yourself. It will challenge you to take a second look at what you are currently using in your classroom. I know it has caused me to really contemplate my recommendations for teachers.

(By the way, I use the Kwout resource I recently blogged about to get that screenshot. That is a really easy tool to use.)

Big Universe Learning – Engaging Online Reading and Writing Platform for K-8

Big Universe Learning – Engaging Online Reading and Writing Platform for K-8.

Last October I had the opportunity to participate in an interview about the benefits of using tools like Big Universe and also having a 1:1 technology initiative. Earlier this week I was contacted by Anil Hemrajani (CEO of Big Universe) about using the article to help promote his product.

I found it to be a great honor, and an awesome opportunity for East Noble Schools to shine in the ways we are integrating technology.

As I was reading through the article, I couldn’t help but think that the vision of how we use technology has not changed a bit since October. We have to keep striving to communicate to the kids that their devices are tools for learning.

Now that East Noble School Corporation is entering into their third year of being a 1:1 technology school district, we really need to evaluate how we are using the technology. I challenge you all to think of ways that we can pursue “transforming” uses with the technology we have placed in the students’ hands.

Are we having students accomplish tasks with the devices that were previously inconceivable? I think Big Universe can be included in this type of activity as students could take screenshots of parts of texts that they want to reference and annotate. They could then use apps like Skitch  to mark, highlight, and annotate as they wish. All of this without using a single bit of paper. Lastly, they could use an app like 30 Hands to create a slideshow with their voice recording what they accomplished so that it can be sent to a teacher in a video format.

When I was teaching fourth grade, these were activities that I could only dream of doing. Now the reality is here. Let’s take advantage of it!