To teach technology or to teach WITH technology
By Anne on April 19th, 2012
It is a great pleasure of my job to speak with amazing teachers. Just recently I’ve come to know Derek Olson, a 2008 Minnesota Teacher of the Year and a 6th grade teacher at Afton-Lakeland Elementary in Stillwater, Minnesota. We asked him to blog about how he uses technology in his classroom. Here is what he had to share about his experience.
With. It’s such a little word, but in the debate over the proper place of technology in education it makes all the difference. Some argue we should teach technology, others that it has little value in the classroom. The answer is simple: We should not teach technology for its own sake, but instead we should teach with technology whenever it better allows us to meet our goals as educators. Technology is, by definition, “tools that assist people in accomplishing goals.”
When my students work collaboratively as a class on one Google doc, accessing the document from both school and home to produce the “Medieval Times” newspaper as part of an integrated Middle Ages unit, we are teaching with technology. When, instead of red-penning students’ writing I use an app like Jing to provide students an audio and video commentary of their writing, I am teaching with technology. When my 6th graders teach their first grade buddies how to use a class set of Ipods to play engaging math fact drill and practice games, we are teaching with technology. When I upload an audio recording of a chapter in the social studies text book to a Posterous account and link it to the class website so struggling readers can access it at school or home from any mobile device, I am teaching with technology. When, upon the completion of a unit on frequency, amplitude, and sound waves, students make their own headphones out of Dixie cups, wire, and magnets, that they can plug into their Ipods and jam out, I am teaching with technology. More importantly, they are creating technology. When students use programming software on a laptop to utilize the engineering process to program a LEGO Mindstorms robot to accomplish a specific task, I am teaching with technology.
That’s in my classroom. There are as many ways to teach with technology as there are teachers willing to embrace them. I see amazing examples in the classrooms of my colleagues every day. This is not technology for its own sake, but to meet standards, engage students, and facilitate the development of 21st century skills.
Now is an exciting time to be an educator. Never have new technologies developed at such a rapid rate. The toolbox of what can be done with our students is ever widening. We would be selling ourselves – and more importantly our students—short not to embrace the new tools available as we strive to meet the needs of each and every student that comes our way.
And if it seems a bit scary, just remember that even the idea of a book was once a new technology.
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