Should technology drive curriculum, or vice versa?
Technology is an educational tool. A super-awesome-amazing tool, but a tool nonetheless. Unless you're teaching a technology class, then it should be used to support and expand the curriculum rather than being the curriculum. I don't like the idea of using technology in the classroom just to use it; it needs to have a purpose and it has to add to the learning environment or make learning more accessible for students in some way. I am particularly in awe of one of my colleagues in our Special Ed department and the phenomenal opportunities and supports she has been able to provide by using technology to its full potential.
I was wary when my school first got iPads. There was a lot of excitement, with some of us thinking it would somehow make certain problems disappear. I was caught up in this, too. Everyone has a device, so no one will have any reason not to have a typed final copy! Except they're middle school kids. Someone always has a reason not to do something, even if the reason is just that he didn't feel like it. Yes, I can post video lessons and link tutorials for my students to access whenever they need extra help. Does that mean they watch and follow the videos when they need to? Not all of them. Like any other tool, the operator has to want to use it in order to benefit.
I try to find apps and websites that make what I do easier. Easier for me to stay organized, to make my classes more efficient, for the kids to get excited about what we're doing. I don't look for apps just to say that I used tech in my class today.
*Can you tell my heart is just not in this post today? I'm not sure if it's fatigue; I mean, it is Day 28 of the challenge, and burnout from sticking to the prompts is rearing its head again. I also have stacks of papers to get to, which I've put off all weekend. A grueling ten mile training run in abnormal late-September heat has zapped my energy today and thinking of something reflective to say about technology just isn't enough to get me excited. I want a nap, some snacks, a book, and to ignore my teaching responsibilities for just a little bit longer (until last-minute Sunday night panic sets in).
What are your three favorite go-to sites for helps/tips/resources in your teaching?
(It's our Homecoming tonight and instead of playing an easy team, we're going up against #1 in our conference, so I'm going to keep this brief. Yes, me, brief.)
This site is a joint venture by NCTE and the IRA (the reading IRA). I like the search feature where I can put in keywords and see lesson plan ideas that pop up or just search by grade level. I usually check readwritethink.org for supplements to see if anyone has posted anything interesting related to units I'm currently planning.
I think webenglishteacher.com was the first site I really "discovered" in my first year of teaching. I stumbled upon via random Google search (and I'm still a big fan of those, by the way) and I check in every once in a while to see what's new. I love that it compiles links to various sites and resources by topic.
Is it cliche that I use Pinterest for school ideas? Do I care if it is? There's a reason this site is so popular and that's because it's a great database for a little bit of everything. I've stumbled on a lot of eclectic writing ideas by connecting with blogs through Pinterest that would have been impossible for me to find otherwise.
Three sites I need to use more often:
Sorry to say, it wasn't until finding out about this blogging challenge that I realized some of the awesome content teachthought.com provides for educators. An entire section on their page for iPads in the classroom? Why am I not broadcasting this to every teacher in my building? I need more time with this one for sure.
Kevin was our beginning of the school year PD speaker this year, and he's awesome. His site is chaotic, but there's a lot of great tools there if you take the time to navigate through (which I've only just begun to do). I'm especially attracted to the "Free Tools You Can Use Tomorrow" link from his main page because a) teachers love free stuff, and b) I'm impatient and like to put new ideas to use right away.
Yes, I am embarrassingly late and reluctant to use the Twitter thing, but I know that's where voices in education are sharing and linking ideas in real time. I'm just not sure how to incorporate it as a useful tool without being another time suck in my daily life.
So there they are. Any others I should add to my never-ending list? Now, if only I had some extra time to take full advantage of the potential of each of these sites...
My school started a one-to-one iPad initiative two years ago, and in that time I feel like every day has been an exercise in implementing, succeeding, and failing with technology. I find myself in a strange limbo in this area: I'm young enough to be somewhat of a digital native (born in 1983, so close enough to wikipedia's definition of someone born after '85 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_native ), but I'm not exactly a tech-lover. I implement tech when beneficial to my classroom (or budget, or paper-saving) but I'm not married to the idea that technology makes everything better. I write this post with the concern that too many teachers and administrators see technology as a miracle cure, when it's really just another tool to enhance learning.
That said, I know I don't provide my students with enough real publishing opportunities. Yes, they write for their peers and me, and even for the school website, but none of that is authentic as what I feel they probably should be doing. I want to try to give them more publishing opportunities this year, but (as always) I'm cautious about what will best suit my classroom and my students.
One website I'm currently looking into for this is Lulu.com. This is a site where anyone can self-publish and sell their original books. The idea of having an end of the school year anthology of all my students' best work is appealing. I usually have them create a portfolio for their final grade, but if I decide to go with Lulu, I could have their final assignment be to pick and perfect one single piece of writing to go in the anthology. It would also be a great gift if I could provide each student with their own copy of the book itself (their parents, grandparents, and adoring masses could also buy their own copies through Lulu, if I understand it correctly). As with all tech in the classroom, I need to give it a test run to work out the kinks before I introduce it.
Another option for tech is blogging. My students already write blogs for their social studies class, so I would not have to create new accounts for them through KidBlog. It's a safe site and relatively easy to use, but I need to decide what I really want it for. Is it any different than having them share in class since the blog is protected and will only be seen by other students and teachers? Many of my students write about very personal, sensitive topics (I encourage their freedom to do so); will this censor some of them who do not want to share publicly?
I teach 7th and 8th grade English in rural Iowa and hope to reflect, connect, and share with other English teachers. Iowa Council of Teachers of English Executive Board member. Iowa Writing Project superfan. UNI MA:TESS graduate.