What are your biggest concerns or challenges with technology? Choose two or three and describe how these things hold you back.
- I get overwhelmed by the sheer number of things that are available to sue in the classroom. There are so many things that I know would be really useful to try, but it’s hard to know which ones are the best for me, the students, and our classroom environment.
- I’ll learn about a new tool and get really excited about it, and make all these plans to use it, but then it becomes just another thing I have to keep up with. I want the tools that I use to make teaching more efficient and effective, not more time-consuming.
- There aren’t a lot of other teachers at my school who are willing to try new tech things. While I have access to a lot of great and helpful resources and people all over the internet–thank you, Twitter–sometimes it would be nice to see other teachers at my school who know our community are using them. It’s hard to be the innovator all the time; it’s kind of isolating.
Which two reasons for why technology is worth the trouble that are most relevant to you? Using a specific example for each, explain how using more technology could make a difference for you.
- It helps students become more independent learners. As a fifth grade teacher, I am the last self-contained teacher they are likely to have. And middle school is not like elementary school. Middle school teachers expect that their students are more independent. I want to prepare my students for that environment, as well as for learning for the rest of their lives. From my experience, students are more engaged when they can work on something independently, with tools and instruction available to them when they need it.
- I’m planning on having a self-paced classroom next year, so I will need a lot of tools available for my students in order to make that happen. They will need access to my Google Docs and the instructional videos I made for their mini-lessons. We need a place to keep track of sign-ups for assessments and conferences that everyone has access to so they can see when I am available, and I can see who I am working with that day.
- It saves you time. I know this sounds kind of selfish, but a lot of things teachers do take a long time. Individualized writing feedback: so helpful, but takes forever. Grading writing using a rubric: tedious, and that’s after you make the rubric. I want to be able to do amazing things to help my students learn, but it’s a lot harder when I spend so much time doing the mundane things.
- When my students read Sarah, Plain and Tall last year, they wrote reading reflections on post-it notes. I then read their reflections each day and wrote them a note to help guide them through the next day’s reading. This was awesome, but it took FOREVER. I like the idea of using Voxer or another voice-recording tool to give my students oral instead of written feedback. It will be so much faster, and I can give them more feedback.
Choose two specific tools that teachers who have woven technology into their work and lives use and describe how they might be used in your work.
- EduCanon: Since I am trying to set up a self-paced classroom, I think it would be helpful to have videos with a few questions embedded in them so I can monitor how the students are doing as they watch the videos. I could also use a video embedded in Google Forms as well.
- QR codes: I am hoping to have a BYOD classroom to assist with our self-paced environment, so QR codes would be a great way for students to check their work without me having to print everything up, or come to me every time they need to check things. They can check their own work, make corrections, and move on. I can even put in video links so they can rewatch a mini-lesson if they are getting a lot of wrong answers.
Choose two tips you believe are most important for successful use of technology. Explain why.
- Get clear on the reason: It is so easy to want to use more technology because it is fun and cool. Like with every activity you do in the classroom, it needs to impact student learning in some way. If it’s just fun, why are you using it? And a tool can impact student learning by freeing up your time to work with students one-on-one or spend more time giving them feedback on their work. It doesn’t have to be used by students to impact their learning.
- Start small (and low-risk): Sometimes it seems like you need to do everything all at once to be a tech-savvy teacher, but that’s not true. I found a lot of success with Plickers, which is fairly low-tech, and that opened me up to trying more complicated things. Honestly, Plickers is what put me on this path; without it, I wouldn’t be taking this course. It only required some cards and an app. Super easy, and I felt successful and emboldened to try something new.
Choose one thing you learned from the Q&A section and explain how you might apply it to your work.
- Consider BYOD if your school doesn’t have access to a lot of tech: My school does not have access to many devices–despite being a private school, we are new and are under-enrolled which means money is always tight–but I know my students do at home. I found the 28 Things article very helpful because it gave me a check-list of things to do to make a BYOD program successful in my classroom.
Preview the 30 tool categories covered and choose two that are especially interesting to you and explain how you might use these in your work.
- Flipped learning: Since I am trying to set up a self-paced classroom, I am interested to see the kinds of video and other instruction tools I can use to deliver mini-lessons to my students virtually, at home or at school.
- Feedback tools: I want to give more and better feedback to my students, but I find handwriting feedback takes so long that I don’t do much of it. I want some tools that will help me give more feedback to my students more often.