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Technology Is a Tool in Your Classroom, NOT the Answer

Posted by on in Education Technology
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You’ve finally got that requested tech…now what?

So you’re school just got 1:1 tech, or you just got your request for iPads granted on an online funding site you signed up for (congrats! that’s awesome!) For a lot of teachers that I talk with, it seems like they think as soon as you get that tech in your room the world will change and all of your problems will disappear. To be honest, when I got some additional tech for my room, I thought the same things was going to happen.

The Reality

When I first received some additional tech that ended up being 1:1 after a hodgepodge of some laptops here, iPods here, and tablets over there, I thought everything was going to just magically improve in my classroom. The reality of it was that I just had another tool to help my students, NOT a “cure all” for all of the issues that exist in my classroom.

I found that technology can help individualize and curate any curriculum in a way that was more meaningful to students and most times more engaging as well. As I began utilizing the technology I had available more, I even began picking my favorite formative assessment tools, and ways to increase the effectiveness of my teaching. What I quickly understood though, was that it wasn’t the technology that was helping my students, but rather the instruction behind it.

Technology as a tool

So many teachers I work with think that the “tech” they want will be a magic bullet. Sometimes it can be, BUT without good instruction, technology is useless! If you don’t have solid instructional practices, engaging lessons, and meaningful learning experiences for your students, the technology doesn’t matter.

Before you start worrying about the technology you wish you had, make sure your instruction is ready for it. When you finally get those devices you’ve been waiting for, try to enhance your already awesome instruction wherever you can.

“Ok, great Chad, I get it. Make sure my instruction is good. But what about when I actually do get that tech?”

Well, let’s look at some ways you can improve your instruction with technology: 

Assessment: Whether it is formative or summative, technology can help you deliver, collect, and grade assessments faster. There are a lot of really awesome apps that can make grading lightning fast! They can allow you to respond to student needs faster, save time, and be able to focus on learning and understanding. 

Accessibility to Curriculum: You can use technology to make your curriculum and materials universally accessibly to your learners. By utilizing LMS sites like Google Classroom, Edmodo, Schoology or many others that exist, you can house and provide access to all learning, regardless of where your students are. This can also help you implement self-paced or mastery learning in your classroom, which can drastically increase student achievement. 

Differentiation: With technology and the availability of resources, it is easier than ever to individualize instruction for students. After an assessment and immediate feedback is received, you can group or assign students using your universally accessible curriculum and align tasks to your students’ level of understanding. If that sounds like a lot to put together…I understand. I had to create an entire system to help me (and other teachers) make the most out of their new technology.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of how cool the new toys you got for your classroom are, or how excited you are to get going, I want you to remember one thing: “YOU are what makes technology work for your students!” Nothing is a replacement for good instruction and no technology can replace the power of a passionate, dedicated, and adaptive teacher like YOU. Enjoy the tech you have but remember its a TOOL…not an answer.

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After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree In Biology, Chad Ostrowski or “Mr. O” as his students fondly call him, set his sights on education. He was chosen as one of only 50 individuals in the state of Ohio to be granted the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship through the Ohio STEM Learning Network.  Through this fellowship, he received his Master’s in Science Education and gained intensive training and expertise in STEM education, Problem Based Learning, Inquiry-based instruction as well as other cutting-edge educational research and modern pedagogical theory. 

Ostrowski has since presented research at the NSTA National Conference onProblem-Based Learning in the Gifted Classroom and Continues to develop and research modern innovative educational practices. Chad has been teaching  Middle School Science in a high needs urban district for 4 years. In that short time, due to his dedication to teaching, innovative teaching methods and educational leadership he has been named Science Department Chair within his building, Building Leadership Team member and District Co-chair of Middle School Science Curriculum. 

It is through these foundations that he has created and developed  the The Grid Method - Mastery Learning System in order to synthesize his knowledge of best practices in education into a system that allows ALL of his students to meet and exceed  their potential. 

Chad has now left the classroom to shre his innovative practices, techniques and strategies with educators all over the country. He does this through speaking at conferences, providng teacher development and workshops, as well as producing blogs, and videos.

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Guest Monday, 15 July 2019