Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Same Old Problem, New Tool

One of the complaints I hear from teachers now that we've implemented a 1:1 environment with iPads is that students are playing with their iPads instead of paying attention in class.  The truth is that we've all had trouble with kids not paying attention to our lessons at one time or another, but the iPad is offering them a new reason to be distracted!  Whether students are talking to the person beside them, reading a book, writing a note, daydreaming, or playing on an iPad, the situation is still the same.  Whenever students aren't paying attention, teachers need to have some classroom management strategies in place.  Some of the classrooms I have been in try the following:
A.  When the teacher is giving directions, all iPads are turned over or are on the rack under the desk.
B.  Most directions are given before students begin using the device.
C.  The teacher walks around the room during the activity to monitor progress and engagement.
D.  Consequences are posted for students who get off task.
Overall, although iPads can be distracting, I think our teachers are handling the situation in a manner that keeps problems to a minimum.  For the most part, if you can control your classroom, you can control your classroom with iPads.


One of my strongest memories from student teaching (22 years ago) is sitting in the faculty meeting when the principal was telling teachers that they were going to be adding 5 computer stations to each classroom the following year.  Teachers were appalled!  "Why would we need computers in the classroom?" they complained.  I remember sitting there quietly (like a good student teacher), wondering how they couldn't be excited at the idea.  Times have sure changed...or have they?

Yes, we have computers in our classrooms, and our teachers probably can't imagine life without them at this point.  Now, however, we are moving to a 1:1 environment, and the general resistance is still there.  Not only do some teachers wonder why every student needs a device, parents and other community members are wondering too.

For those of us who can't fathom NOT wanting to bring technology in whenever possible, it's important to take a step back and see things from a digital immigrant's point of view, and communicate three important concepts:

1.  I think the strongest argument for technology is the world we live in.  If our goal is to prepare students for the real world, we have to expose them to the tools that they will be expected to use when they get there.  These days most people assume that others have a basic understanding of how technology works...copy/paste, web searching, download/upload, etc.  Although many of our students are very comfortable navigating a program, even a new one, other students are not.  We have to give them exposure to technology to help close that gap.  It is important to show stakeholders ways in which our students will be expected to use technology when they leave our corporation so they can see the importance of us stressing it now.

2. Another point we need to make is that in our days of information overload, there is no way for the teacher to be "all-knowing" as they were assumed to be in the past.  If we want our students to have the most current information possible, then they need to be connected.

3.  Last, but certainly not least, we need to assure stakeholders that we are aware of some of the dangers out there, but like every other danger in society, we can't stop living because of a "what if."  Instead, it is our goal to educate teachers, students, and parents on the issues relating to digital citizenship, and give everyone the tools necessary to navigate technology safely.

Getting stakeholders on board with technology is not always as easy as one might think.  Some people feel that as soon as you unwrap the shiny, new devices, people will be hooked; however, that is often not the case.  We need to share with parents and other stakeholders what our mission actually is and how we plan to get there, safely, with our students.

Friday, November 1, 2013

My Technological Journey

          I am fascinated by technology.  I'm interested enough to seek it and comfortable enough that I'll push the buttons and figure it out, but I'm no expert.  In my personal life, I wouldn't say that I'm ahead of the game by any stretch of the imagination. We live in the middle of nowhere so our wifi is limited, meaning everything else is limited too.  We don't use Netflicks.  My son doesn't do XBox Live.  We rarely Skpe or Facetime.  All of those uses are too costly.  Probably the one tech piece that I couldn't live without would be my iPhone.  I always say if I ever lost it, I wouldn't remember when I was supposed to breathe!  Siri enters all of my kids' sporting events in my calendar and reminds me when I need to buy dog food.  I use my phone to check my Twitter account...sometimes, and I burn up my ShopShop app each week when I make the trip to Walmart.  My photos are digital and so are some of my scrapbooks.  I use email and texting often to communicate, collaborate, and share.

          Like many educators, the lines between my personal and professional lives often blur.  I use Twitter, but I probably use it 10 times as much for my educational PLN rather than keeping up with local gossip.  My professional email and texting far outweigh my personal, and most of what I search on the web is somehow related to education.  Because I enjoy it, I've now entered the world of TIS which means technology has changed everything for me.  I now spend most of my day communicating with teachers, planning PD, researching apps and websites, troubleshooting, all in the name of technology education.  

Some of my personal/professional goals include the following:

  • increase my PLN through Twitter, MBC, and this course
  • complete EVSC's 30-Day challenge 
  • create a system to help myself organize all of the resources I find
  • find more ways to get inside others' classrooms to work with students and model for teachers
  • help a few change the way they use technology
  • get teachers to try something new
  • start a tech team with students
  • maintain a professional blog to share with my corporation
          Mostly, I'm just hoping to continue to bring new ideas to teachers and help them find ways to use technology to enhance what they need to do.