Monday, September 24, 2007

Integrating Technology?

The conversation has been tossed around again and again about the integration of technology. Various staff members and I are actually going to be presenting our own thoughts about what integration looks like in elementary classrooms. But the conversation of integration really needs to be changed! We need to instead be talking about embedding technology into our classrooms.

By definition, to integrate is to 'incorporate into a larger unit' or 'blend into a functioning or unified whole.' In terms of technology, integrating is trying to fit it in with that of an existing way of doing things. It is almost like a puzzle, making sure that the piece you are trying to fit into place belongs there. With the way our education system is set up, we are often missing pieces of the puzzle, or we just can't find the right way to turn them to make them fit!

What if we were able to embed technology instead of integrating it? What if we could start from the bottom up, with our technology skills, standards, and tools, and embed them from the start? Having technology as a special, or something that is done once a week or so, does not allow for students to see it's full potential, and does not become a meaning part of a classroom.

Let's work on embedding technology into our classroom...let's focus on treating technology as an integral part of education, not an extra part of education. What could our schools look like if we start embedding instead of integrating?


Wednesday, September 12, 2007


So...this is the start of my 10th year of teaching, and after a decade in the field, there is a lot of reflection that takes place. In the beginning, I started out as a fresh faced first year teacher trying to learn the ropes from my mentors and colleagues. I modeled my teaching after that which I observed, from my days as a student teacher, doing observations as part of my degree program, and other teachers in my building.

After my first year, I could look back and make some decisions for myself; how did I want to do things? What did I think would be best for the students in my classroom? Without even knowing it, I was developing a constructivist teaching strategy - understanding that learners are not empty vessels to be filled with knowledge. Instead, learners are actively attempting to create meaning. In fact, allowing learners to select and pursue their own learning.

Today, I read an article posted by George Siemens about Connectivism. Here is an excerpt:

Connectivism is the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories. Learning is a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements – not entirely under the control of the individual. Learning (defined as actionable knowledge) can reside outside of ourselves (within an organization or a database), is focused on connecting specialized information sets, and the connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing.

Connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations. New information is continually being acquired. The ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital. The ability to recognize when new information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday is also critical.

This idea forces us to reflect on our own teaching, and that of the teachers we work with. If we are going to help the students we teach prepare for the world ahead, then we need to leave some of our old practices behind. I still believe that a constructivist model works well for today's kids, but applying aspects of connectivism will help those students more in this ever changing world.

Here's to 10 years....I look forward to the changing years ahead :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Who Says You Can't Change!

So, in our days of teaching, when some veteran teachers are reluctant to change, elementary school teacher Dave Schlachter, has had to change. Read this article to hear his inspirational story.

Here's an excerpt:

Schlachter, who is part of a growing trend in classrooms around the world, has traded in his traditional blackboard and overhead projector for a SMART Board.

After 32 years in education, Schlachter has developed a disability that makes typing and writing difficult. After having problems writing on the board and preparing lessons for students on the computer, he sought help from the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Just a great story for those who doubt....

Thanks to Dave Solon for the link....

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Web 2.0

So...this is my first video post, so we'll see how this goes! This is a wonderful video demonstrating the power of Web 2.0. I was reading The Connected Classroom by Kristin Hokanson from Upper Merion School District in PA. For those of us that see the potential of using emerging technology in our classrooms, this video is simply a confirmation of what we know. However, showing this video to those that may not know what is out there, it can surely prove to be thought provoking at the very least.

We are in an age and time where we are the web, our students are the web, yet we are in our classrooms going about our teaching in a directed, linear manner. We need to change our own thinking if we are going to prepare our students for what they are truly going to be doing when they grow up.

New Year, New Challenges we are on Labor Day weekend, gearing up for another school year. The family is enjoying the sun for the final weekend of summer, sucking up every bit of what's left. As the year begins, I am reminded that there are a new set of challenges waiting next week. Challenges for myself, teachers and for the students we teach. Tackling all of the challenges at once will cause burnout within a few months, so this year, I want to focus on helping teachers integrate technology more in their classrooms, not just mine.

My goal for this coming school year is to help teachers in my building to embrace technology so that the students in my building will benefit. Sharing resources, coaching in the classroom, and giving them support will allow them to see the true impact that quality integration can have.

That being said....I come to you for help. Please share your thoughts about what quality technology integration means to you...what does it look like? What does it sound like? How have you integrated technology on your grade level? I'd love to hear what you think :)