Technology Is a Tool in Your Classroom, NOT the Answer

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 grantedon 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 thinkas 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,NOTa “cure all” for all of the issues that exist in myclassroom.

I found that technology can helpindividualize and curate anycurriculum 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 myfavorite 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 ofreally awesome appsthat can make grading lightning fast! They can allow you torespond to student needs faster, save time, and be able to focus on learning and understanding.

Accessibility to Curriculum:You can usetechnology 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 studentsare. This can also help you implement self-paced ormastery learningin 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 tocreate an entire systemto 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 technologywork 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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