To tech or not to tech?

Wow, how far I have come! Tomorrow I have planned to ask students to share their thinking on character traits, based on details from the book Wonder. My first idea on how to do this was by having students work on their ipads, and respond using the app ‘Padlet’. A great way for the students to show and share their thinking collaboratively. Those trusty post it notes that before would be my go to, will be saved for another day! This tech thinking is not new. As I enter my third year of teaching in a 5th grade class, at a school that has a1:1 Program in Upper Elementary, my current planning consistently reflects students learning through the use of technology. Our recent writer’s workshop was a Blogging Unit, Google Maps features in our Social Studies lesson on Absolute & Relative Location, the app pic collage was a tool for showcasing global citizenship and, student created math tutorials regularly feature in my math planning rotations. Last year I participated in the iLearning initiative in my elementary school. This gave me a wealth of opportunities to tinker with apps, and look for ways to integrate them in the classroom. So yes, I think I am doing a pretty job of promoting and encouraging the use of technology in my classroom!

Yet despite all of the above, does it mean I am  actually any good at it?! I often find myself asking the question ‘Am I even using the technology effectively?’, or, “Does this tool ensure the students are gaining the knowledge with deeper understanding?” There are days where I am giving myself quiet pats on the back, and others, where I am searching out those students who are seriously in the tech ‘know’, and can mentor the students (and me!) who may be struggling with a tech issue. My colleague Disha, in her recent Coetail post titled ‘Where Do I Stand‘, referred to an Edutopia article entitled, What is Successful Technology Integration? Effective technology integration, “ is achieved when students are able to select technology tools to help them obtain information in a timely manner, analyze and synthesize the information, and present it professionally. The technology should become an integral part of how the classroom functions — as accessible as all other classroom tools.”  I am in agreement with her opinion. The video on SAMR – A Model for Instructional Technology Use, gives detailed definitions and examples of their definition of technology related to education. From watching this, I feel I am clearly ‘nesting’ in the Modification stage, with ‘flashes’ of both Refection and Augmentation occurring in my classroom

Image :  Wikimedia Commons

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-7-59-46-pmSo I am left thinking not only about what the best approach to integrating technology is, but how I can move on wards and upwards in the SAMR Model. What can I do about it in my classroom?  KEEP GOING I think has to be the answer! The easiest mindset and approach to integrating meaningful technology in my classroom, is to view it as just another teaching tool, that I will value and use where and when I see it best fits my students and their learning. Looking to include it as I would include a hands on activity for science, ensuring it remains meaningful. If it doesn’t happen that day, well shouldn’t that be ok? As teachers, our commitment is to our students and their learning styles, which can be very different. A range of learning experiences need to be regularly included and revisited, to ensure all learners are benefiting.  My colleague Frank posted that ‘Technology integration is using technology to apply knowledge in new ways’, a statement I find myself nodding in agreement with. Tech is another, be it great, teaching tool.

According to Edutopia article, the SAMR Model of integration states that successful techtechnology integration is achieved at its best, when a child or a teacher doesn’t stop to think that he or she is using a technology tool — it is second nature. In order to get to this stage we need to recognise that this process will take time. The end goal of ensuring technology is integrated should be one that has demonstrates many components – great content with students who demonstrate deeper understanding on the subject matter, and fingers crossed, with some great tech!                                                                    Photo credit : flickr.com

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2 Responses to To tech or not to tech?

  1. Profile photo of Chrissy H Chrissy H says:

    I think we should all ask ourselves your two questions when we’re planning to use technology in our classroom – “Am I and/or the students using the technology effectively?” or, “Does this tool ensure the students are gaining the knowledge with deeper understanding?” Brilliant! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Hi Chrissy,
      Thanks for the positive feedback on my comment! I think it is probably a question many teachers ask themselves, but perhaps at the end of the activity rather than the beginning. The wave of enthusiasm and possibilities gets many of us fired up and ready to roll out great tech in the classroom. It is only when the students have completed the task do we sometimes find ourselves reflecting on how much knowledge did they take from the experience. I know I am guilty of this! I need to know walk the walk of my own talk on a more regular basis if tech is to benefit me as a teacher, and my students in their learning!

      Reply

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