Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tech on Tuesday...on Wednesday evening

Life was hectic yesterday.  Normally, I wake up late and ease into the day, blog the Tech on Tuesday post and then spend the rest of the day chilling, tackling projects, or honestly watching Days of Our Lives.  Don't quit reading my blog because of that guilty pleasure.  Anyway, yesterday I was at school all day.  Nope, I wasn't working in my room.  I was sitting 2 doors down conducting interviews.  When I arrived home after 6, I crashed on the sofa and did not wake up until 11.  Thank goodness it is summer. 

So, yesterday's post is a little behind.  I've spent the last few weeks highlighting a few tools and apps that I use on a regular basis, but today I wanted to turn in a different direction.  I've done a lot of training over the last few weeks with the iPad and I always have at least one person who asks, "Why the iPad?"  Honestly, I think in EVERY technology training there is someone who is asking why to technology, but maybe they don't say it out loud.  I wanted to give MY reasons for using technology.

**Disclaimer:  The opinions expressed here are MY own opinions. 

Why Technology?

1.  The 21st Century is HERE!  We are no longer preparing students for the 21st century.  Guys we are living it right now!  Our students live in a technologically advanced world and it should not just be encouraged, technology should be second nature in our classrooms. Our students wakeup to alarm clocks on cell phones, have refrigerators that hold digital pictures, use smart phones, etc.  If their classroom is not utilizing the same technology they will become BORED.  No, we aren't there to entertain all day, but we have to speak their language and technology is it.

2.  Engagement:  We've all had lessons that we have planned beautifully, but when we stop for a minute and look around our room, sometimes students are tuned out of the lesson.  Technology, whether it is an iPad or a laptop or a Kindle, creates excitement and fosters engagement.  It is SO much easier to teach students who are engaged instead students who are tuned out.

3.  Fun: Admit it, you have been sucked into a word game on your iPad or Farmville on Facebook.  I know I have and time has slipped away because I was having fun.  Why not harness that.  Use Chicktionary as a word center in your classroom.  Have students compete with one another for high scores.  Have a bowling tournament using Wii Sports Resort and use the data to teach mean, median, mode.  Tap into fun and teaching becomes an entirely different arena.

4.  Efficiency:  Yes, I could assign the same pencil paper task to students - write a play and perform it on Friday.  Or, I could have students write a play and create a digital story or Puppet Pals play and host a movie preview instead.  The time it takes to create a digital piece is so much quicker than the paper pencil way of doing things.  Yes, I have a TON of standards to teach, but the use of technology actually frees up time in my classroom because things are done quicker.

5.  Expand the world:  I've taught all over the country in the last 13 years and every year, I have a diverse group of kids. Some children travel to other countries while others do not have that opportunity.  By using tools like Skype, FaceTime, and VoiceThread, I am able to open the world to my students.  We can talk to other classrooms in our building, our city, our state, but what about across the world.  I remember one virtual field trip where a little class in Arizona asked if we wore shoes in South Carolina.  Funny yes, but it expanded the world for all of those little guys and people in Arizona know that we do wear shoes to school :)

6. Collaboration and Critical Thinking:  Using technology is the perfect way to build in collaborative thinking and critical problem solving skills.  Students have to talk with each other to plan ways to approach a problem, choose the correct technology to get the job done, and share leadership as they execute the task.  This is HARD for students.  The more opportunities to practice these skills, the better the result will be. I had to work extremely hard not to give answers or solve problems with technology.  I always ask, "Why?" or "Why do you think that?" or "Have you asked someone in your group?"  At first, I had these written down on an index card to remind myself not to jump in and solve.  By the end of the year, my students were troubleshooting on their own and utilizing each other instead of me.

I am passionate about technology in my classroom and have become more so in the last few years.  If I want to continue to affect change in my students, I have to speak their language.  I doing so, I also become a cool teacher in their eyes and who doesn't want that?


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