Wednesday, May 1, 2013

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.

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.)