I spent a little time tonight looking back at the classroom blog that I started back during my first full year as a teacher, before I was even accepted in the Pinnacle Technology Leader program that we have in my county. In fact, I had forgotten that I even HAD a blog way back then, but the proof is there! What’s interesting to me is comparing the blog I had then to the blog that I had the next year. One reason I love having a personal blog is because it’s like a diary of sorts that reminds of those sometimes mundane turned awesome life happenings when memory fails. As is turns out, my classroom and professional blogs work the same way.
In looking back at my first classroom blog, it was totally there to distribute information. It wasn’t to provide collaboration or spur discussion, but simply used as a tool to get information out to parents and students.
|1st Class Blog
|2nd Class Blog
But then I took a look at the classroom blog that I used the next year, and it had obviously evolved into something more than simply information distribution. By this time, I was not only using the blog to post assignments and communicate with parents, but was also using our classroom blog as a weekly literacy/content center, and as a place to get student feedback on many activities we did in the classroom.
But thinking back on this time in my classroom, not only had my use of blogging changed, but my use of technology in general had changed as well. When I first started teaching, whatever technology I used was mostly just that- me using technology. I was lucky enough to have a school laptop that I could use to write lesson plans on, and had easy enough access to a projector when I wanted to show a video or a website for use in my lessons. And I think that was natural, especially when I take into account that I started teaching in my own classroom half-way through a school year. It was more about survival and figuring out where to pick up than making things my own.
But…just like my blog evolved in my 2nd year, so did my other use of technology. I started focusing on letting my students use whatever technology was available, not just me. And it wasn’t just about using the technology… I figured out that what was most important was what students were DOING with technology. So using the technology wasn’t important, but learning was. And learning new technologies wasn’t even important, but learning about the moon, or other countries, or about the life cycles of plants, or about how to work together even with people you aren’t best friends with was the important stuff. And if through doing that, students learned new technology or got to use the newest “it” site great.
And you know what? Teaching with technology, and integrating it in a way that was seamless and flowed wasn’t always easy. BUT. It was possible. I know it was, because I did it. But that doesn’t mean that it is going to happen overnight.
So my advice to all those trying to figure out ways to teach with all this new technology? Whether you’re a veteran teacher trying to update your teaching practices or a novice teacher already in love with all things tech…take it step by step. Baby steps are okay. The same methods don’t work for everyone, and that’s okay. If this year or this semester, you want to try using a class blog or give a site like Edmodo a try and just focus on communication, that’s okay. Don’t feel like you have to do everything at once, and don’t feel like you have to try every single new thing out there. Because you know what? Technology and all the cool new stuff shouldn’t really the focus. Your content should be. All that cool stuff may be a great way to engage your students in your content…but that’s what your Instructional Technology Facilitator can help you with too!
So if you’re scared, it’s okay! Take small steps, and don’t be afraid to ask for help!
What’s your advice for integrating technology into teaching?