Technology Integration is one of the current buzz words in the educational marketplace right now. I have taught at schools where technology was a few calculators. I have also taught at schools that have everything mounted, wireless internet, and the latest gadgets waiting for teachers to ask to use them. Which do I think is the best? Well, let’s talk about that.
I am very pro-technology integration. I love it. Yes, I am that geeky teacher with the gadgets. While I don’t have all the latest toys (my school laptop is the oldest WindowsXP on campus). I do make sure that the technology in my classroom is “cool”.
I do not, however, want the technology to be what the students see. I want them to see the material, the curriculum. I want them to discuss the lesson, not the video that I made to deliver the lesson. The technology allows me to provide the material in various formats (print, audio, video). I also communicate with the students in their world. Yes, I Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, text message, e-mail and on occasion even Insta-gram the lesson to them and their parents. I have even been known to accept the day’s assignment as an e-mail attachment from a student’s iPad.
I have students that have high speed internet, and students that don’t even have a computer at home. So, I am fully aware of the different socioeconomic standings in my classroom. I am blessed to be able to provide an additional computer in my classroom. Students are welcome to use it when they finish their work. I work diligently to provide those that don’t have access at home an opportunity to access safely at school.
But the most valuable piece of technology in my classroom is the standard #2 pencil. We use paper and pencil. There seems to be a correlation between students actually DOING the work and their retention of the material. Yes, we go to the computer lab. Yes, I show them all the pretty pictures we can make with Geogebra (thanks, Google). Then we come back into the classroom and I pull out our compasses and we learn to do it by hand.
As educators, we must be aware of our students access to technology or even lack of access. It is very easy to get caught up in the “everyone has a smartphone” culture. How do our students feel if they are kept out of that culture? Until about a year ago, I had dial-up access in my rural home and a “feature” phone. It was all that was available and affordable. My own daughter couldn’t do the things I am doing in my classroom. She would have been one of the disadvantaged.
So, I do what I can. I post the assignments on the outside of my room. (Yes, in the hallway for all to see.) I remind the students as they walk by my classroom on their way to another classroom. I call parents when their students aren’t getting homework done. I have post cards (thanks, VistaPrint) that I can mail home if there is no phone. I do what I can. I am not perfect. I sometimes forget that not all students have the same access.
But, I keep trying to reach them all.