…the teacher makes the technology. One of the things I hear from teachers is that they do not feel like they are good at integrating technology in the classroom. I think the technology push has made teachers feel substandard if they can’t implement every new web tool into their curriculum. Technology should be a tool. Great teachers are great teachers no matter what tools they have to work with in the classroom. I would rather a teacher be comfortable using one piece of technology well than using lots of technology inconsistently. For those teachers who desire adding technology to their curriculum, here are a few steps to take.
1 – Find a lesson or unit that you have already mastered and feel comfortable teaching. This is great starting point for adding technology. There is nothing worse than test driving a lesson and technology at the same time. You will feel much more confident handling technology issues that arise if the content is solid.
2 – Play around with the technology on your own before you use it in the classroom – on the hardware you will use in your classroom. There are so many nuances to websites and software that seem to work fine at home but on school wifi and with locked down devices things may not work as smoothly. There are lots of online tutorials for learning new programs. I would choose a program that allows you to create in any subject area – like Word or PowerPoint for starters. (Those are standard fare in our district – but Google has great basic tools as well.)
3 – Your students know more than you about technology and are less afraid of the consequences. I have taught students to use PowerPoint to create research presentations. I spent a lot of time teaching them how to set up the slides and helping them plan. What I didn’t expect? They not only perfectly laid out their slides and photos, but added sounds and animations without any instruction at all. 2nd graders! The beauty of it all was that I was just the guide and they were the researchers and publishers. Of course, for some students it was still scary but for others it was their time to shine.
4 – Try it multiple times. You will learn right along with the students what works and what doesn’t.
An example – students in 1st grade do animal research projects every year. They love it and the teachers know the research unit thoroughly. So, we added creating a powerpoint (I like tools that work even if the internet doesn’t!) to the instructional unit. The students did their research and then came to the computer lab to create their slides. I love this addition of technology because it allows for great diversification among the students. Some students will do a great job and make a beautiful presentation with their 5 slide requirements. Others will find technology to be a great incentive to create 10 slides and will research as many resources as they can to create more.
Just adding this one tool to the research unit will allow you to integrate technology in many lessons. Even if that is the only tool you use throughout the year, if you use it well it is all you need. The next year you can add a second tool. Technology moves fast and the changes and additions are hard to keep up with for someone who works with it everyday let alone for teachers where it is priority number 25. Don’t worry about all the noise. Learn one tool and use it well. You are still a great teacher with or without technology. You can just be a great teacher who happens to know PowerPoint.