As part of this month’s Top 12 Global Teacher Bloggers series, hosted by CM Rubin World, I’ve been asked to identify some of the biggest mistakes that I see teachers making with technology. In thinking about how to respond to the query, I kept circling back to the concept of word choice. When teachers describe their efforts with technology, they often struggle with the words they use to define their endeavors.
Word Choice Issue #1 – Integrate
Oftentimes, the teachers in my workshops feel enormous pressure to integrate technology; they see it as a looming weight. Given their limited time to address content and curricular standards, they worry about how to “fit it in.”
However, we don’t hold trainings specific to pencil integration, nor do we ask teachers to specify plans to incorporate pencils into each lesson. Rather than being told to integrate technology, teachers need to have it presented as a way to enhance or support teaching and learning.
Word Choice Issue #2 – “Technology” Projects
Many teachers tell me that they feel forced to create “technology projects” that lie outside the scope of their curriculum, just so that they can check off a box for “integration.” The power of digital tools is in how they give students voice & choice. Rather than assign a technology-based product and stress over how to “fit it in,” give students an objective (i.e. show your problem solving, demonstrate your understanding, communicate your opinion) and then encourage them to use any tools – analog and/or digital – which enable them to be creative.
Word Choice Issue #3 – “What?” vs “What If…?”
Teachers often ask me, “What do I do with this app/tool/device?” or “What app/tool/device should I use?” They begin the conversation focused on the technology and not the learning.
The more interesting question is What If?
- What if my students could explain their problem solving?
- What if my students could collaborate to visually demonstrate the vocabulary?
- What if my students could curate their learning into a multi-media journal?
- What if my students could share their learning with a wider, more authentic audience?
When we start to ask “What if?”, we remove the limitations to our thinking. From there, we might see how to leverage all of the available technologies to best support teaching and learning.
Other words that I like to emphasize when approaching professional development in technology are play, explore, improve, and try. When the intent is improving teaching and learning, teachers rarely make mistakes.
The other bloggers in this series also posted excellent responses to this question. Read the entire post at CM Rubin World.
For the past few years, I’ve been heavily reliant on Diigo – a social bookmarking tool. For the most part, I’ve just used it to save and tag bookmarks. However, in the past few months, I’ve begun to take advantage of the annotation features as well. While this system is great because I can search my notes and links, I still found it a bit cumbersome to then do anything with all of that content.
However, a few months ago, Diigo introduced Outliners and everything changed!
Now, not only can I save research but I can organize it in outline form as well! This is a complete game changer for teaching research skills. To learn more, check out the article that I wrote for Free Technology for Teachers.
Shameless Self Promotion
With EdTechTeacher, I’m teaching a two-day workshop, July 16-17, in Boston this summer on Reading, Writing, & Research. I can promise you that we will look at using Diigo to support these processes. Registration is open!