Technology in schools is always a hot button issue. For every teacher that loves their tech, another hates it and vows to never use it; for every school that goes 1-1, another throws away all their devices and digs out their old textbooks. I find myself firmly in the middle.
Full disclosure: I am a tech coach at my school, a school that has only recently given all of our students their own iPads. It has been just over a month with individual student devices, and I am certainly no expert in how to use them effectively at any given moment. My colleagues ask me questions, and I am just as likely to know the answer as send them to another coach who might know more than me. My department calls me the “Tech Goddess,” a nickname I appreciate for its irony on days when I throw up my hands because I cannot for the life of me figure out what is going wrong.
My personal philosophy on tech is that I will use it when it makes sense to. I am not going to switch everything I do over to digital for the sake of doing something digitally. I want to make sure that when I plan something for the iPads, it makes sense for that task and what I want my students to be able to do.
Here’s what has worked so far:
1. Digital lessons- I record my lecture for students to listen and take notes on individually. It gives students the ability to work at their own pace, pause, rewind, and listen again as necessary. Students who are sick can easily do the work from home and avoid falling behind. My favorite part: it frees me up to talk with students one-on-one for grade checks, writing conferences, and anything else I might need to take care of.
2. Easy typing- Our students have cases with built in keyboards, which means no more booking a computer lab weeks in advance, no more trekking across school to get students to type up their papers. Students can type in class anytime they are ready, which means I can let students work at their own pace and not demand everyone be at the same point in the writing process for the sake of being in the lab at the same time.
3. Instant feedback- Using Googleforms or online assessments I can assign students practice quizzes for our grammar concepts. Instant grading lets students get immediate feedback and make corrections to see if they are ready for upcoming assessments. Students get practice, and I get data, all without having to mark stacks of paper.
Of course, since this is new, there has been a learning curve. The biggest thing I have had to deal with is forgetful students. Whether they left their device at home or forgot to charge it, there have been some bumps in students consistently being prepared for class. I solved one issue by purchasing a power-strip, so students can plug in when they show up to class. Depending on what we are using devices for, students can look over their neighbor’s shoulder or complete the assignment on paper if they forgot their device.
After a month of tech immersion, my problem solving skills have been fine-tuned (although I have found that a hard restart does not fix all). There are days when students use their device, and there are days when it stays in their bag. For now, I am happy with that balance, but I want to keep finding ways I can integrate our new tech tool. So, how do you use technology successfully in your classroom?