Is Seamless Technology Integration the Missing Piece in Your Classroom?
November 16, 2022
November 16, 2022
By Patrick Hausammann and Debbie Tannenbaum
Have you ever been told to integrate technology into your classroom, to make it a key part of your instruction, but didn’t know how or where to start? The prospect of new technology can feel so overwhelming: There are so many options, and it can seem like just something else added to your plate after two rollercoaster years.
In our respective roles as a Supervisor of Instructional Technology and as a Technology Coach, both Patrick and I understand these challenges. In this article, we’d like to help you find some of the magic that technology can create in your classroom and share a few gems we think will make a big difference for you and your students.
While the term “technology integration” can sound intimidating, it really only means trying to make technology a seamless part of your classroom. It’s not an add-on offered when time allows or because it’s mandated. It’s a process through the year of building technology uses and skills for both students and teachers. It doesn’t even mean that technology is always used; instead, it means that technology is known and available to be used when it fits, when it extends a lesson, when it offers opportunities or options that don’t exist without it—in short, when it enhances a learning experience.
Technology is not a silver bullet, replacement for a great teacher, or even always the best option.
But it can be an outstanding tool in an educator’s repertoire. Here are six reasons why:
Students are beginning a new unit and you’d like to see what they already know about concepts such as translations or money. To demonstrate this, they log onto Desmos and use a polygraph activity. During this activity, students work with a partner (either as an anonymous or known partner) as they play this math version of Guess Who. One student selects a card; then another asks math questions to determine which card it is. Students get a chance to work with multiple classmates and the teacher can collect data on their understanding based on the questions asked. Later in the unit, this could also be used as a formative assessment to see progress made.
In English/Language Arts:
When students arrive, they know that Google Classroom is always the first place to check. There they find an entrance ticket activity to use Flipgrid, Google Docs, or Google Canvas to reflect on everything they learned the day before, as well as to pose any questions about what they didn’t understand. Before the day’s lesson begins, students have 3 minutes to connect with a peer and co-reflect to try to answer the questions on the entrance ticket. The whole class discusses briefly, then the new lesson begins with students utilizing a digital interactive notebook to take notes during direct instruction. For the latter part of the block, students divide up into groups they’ve been in to work on a project to craft persuasive arguments for a cause of their choice. They research using databases from the library, Google Scholar, and more, and work together, both verbally and virtually, via their collaborative medium of choice (Docs, Flipgrid, Google Classroom, etc.). Class wraps up for that day with students turning in a draft of their projects (essays, podcasts, art creations, videos, etc.).
While studying the solar system, students can get a better grasp on the relative size of the planets’ orbits by using a Gizmo, an online simulation, which will show them the length of time each planet’s orbit takes. Rather than just reading about this, students collect data and use their research to draw their own conclusions. Moreover, this Gizmo, like the others on the ExploreLearning site, are aligned to state standards, making the integration seamless.
Students begin a collaborative brainstorming session with Google Jamboard and Docs, responding to your prompt to work with a partner or in a group to become a tour guide to one place or person they’ve studied this year (or will study). They collaborate and communicate, both in-person and virtually, using these tools alongside video conferencing and/or asynchronous video with Flipgrid. Throughout classes, they add notes to their information as lessons continue and questions are answered in direct instruction, video, and class work. Storyboard That or grid mode of Google Slides is used to map out their final products (presentations, videos, flying tours in Google Earth, or a teacher approved medium). In every element of the ongoing work, students choose the technology components or offline mediums that align to their skills and passions. The teacher provides both tutorials for the technology and time for support as needed. Wherever possible, students become the teacher to demonstrate tools for the class and support each other.
The art teacher has learned from the math team that students will be studying geometric shapes, so to help reinforce those concepts, students will be finding, creating, and showcasing geometric art. The students get information on the project that will be worked on both verbally and within their LMS (for later checks). Any students without a camera-enabled device are provided one. The class then makes their way outside to take a walking tour of the area surrounding the school to capture as many shots as possible of geometric shapes. These will serve as part of the inspirational part of their digital portfolios (websites). After half the block outside, students return to the classroom to upload their images to the cloud for safe storage and begin researching online images of geometric shapes both in real life and in still art. The block concludes with students reflecting on their progress throughout the period and using this to outline the next steps in building their showcase (planning their creation). They’ll later present their creations to the class live or through video, with peers using electronic peer reviews to provide non-evaluative feedback.
We’ve included a list of resources to help you strengthen your technology knowledge and skills in “Resources for Your Toolkit” on page xx.
In the end, every educator’s technology integration journey is as individual as their path was to making their career choice. Many of us were forced to use technology to excess during the COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s move past that and shift our focus to the aspects of technology integration that were enhanced during the pandemic. Many more teachers and students know the basics of technology than ever before, and have moved to higher levels of communication and collaboration. Do away with the forced use of technology and, instead, embrace its integration to provide students with opportunities and access they’ve never had before. Embrace your PLN to support you along the way and use what you learn to help others. We’re always happy to help any educators that reach out. Let’s collaborate and always share the amazing opportunities we can create for our students!
Patrick Hausammann, a member of the Clarke County Education Association, is the county’s Supervisor of Instructional Technology and an ITRT at Boyce Elementary School and Johnson-Williams Middle School. Debbie Tannenbaum is a school-based Technology Specialist, consultant, and blogger.
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