How is technology used in your classroom? It depends on who is in the driver’s seat. Is it teacher driven, or student centered? It makes a profound difference! Integrating technology effectively involves the intentional design, development and implementation of resources or tools that best suits an instructional purpose. It’s not about how many video clips you can show, or how many PowerPoints you can run, in fact…it’s not really about you. It is more about the ways in which students are actively engaged to learn.
So…. how do you actively engage your students with technology in your classroom? The foundational skills needed for the SOL tests often involve lower level Blooms taxonomy, but upper level Bloom might be just what’s needed. Don’t get me wrong….skill and drill programs like Fasttmath serve a definite purpose. For other content areas, working with abstract ideas might require a different approach. Projects, or activities taught through small groups or work in centers can provide tremendous learning opportunities. Maybe you could have students blog about a particular topic, useVoice threads, , use digital cameras and pictures or video to generate digital posters, short videos or other products. How about creating a digital newspaper or participating in a virtual field trip…. the list is endless. The point is that the students are actively engaged in a task where they are thinking, doing, learning, producing… not simply watching a video or copying notes displayed by a document camera blindly into a notebook.
It requires a shift in thoughts and teaching habits, stepping out of the driver’s seat and into the passenger seat. If you have never tried it, you are in for a surprise. You will find that your role will change from the sage on the stage to that of a facilitator. For some, that is a huge shift. It’s hard to let go. You can do it! Once thoughts and practices have been adapted, the stage is set for transformation to occur. The transformation will probably involve some or maybe even all those educational buzzwords that you keep hearing about like differentiation, collaboration, Marzano strategies, modalities… you know the ones that I am talking about. It’s not easy, but it is rewarding, and can help students in so many ways.
In our school division, we have a wealth of resources, tools and support to afford such transformation. There are computers everywhere…labs, classrooms, and COWS (laptop carts). There are doc cams,digital cameras, data projectors, Promethean boards, voice recorders and other gadgets, plus a plethora of software like kidpix, Kidspiration & Inspiration Software, PowerPoint, Word, Publisher, PhotoStory, Movie Maker and much, much more. We have TRTs who are ready, willing and able to help you make it happen. Want to brainstorm some ideas? Need someone to help you co-teach a technology integrated lesson? Your TRT is there to assist! To see what you can do with technology in your classroom, start small. Adapt. Grow. Keep trying new things. Keep adding new tools to your teacher tool box. Next thing you know, you will have a wealth of high quality, student centered technology activities that provide meaningful learning experiences.
You want to get effective technology in use in your classroom? Get out of the driver’s seat. Explore ways to adapt your practices. Work with your TRT. Add tools to your toolbox. Use the resources, tools and support to facilitate a transformation in yourself and your classroom.