Seeing tech in the classroom as ‘just another thing’

Technology doesn't have to be something else to add to your already full plate in the classroom. It should be the secret sauce that takes class from good to great. (Sketch by Matt Miller)

Technology doesn’t have to be something else to add to your already full plate in the classroom. It should be the secret sauce that takes class from good to great. (Sketch by Matt Miller)

Jam-packed curriculum. State assessments and required lessons. Field trips and school assemblies.

Our lesson plan books are already packed to the gills.

Class time is so precious. With all the interruptions and impositions on it, we feel like we have to make the most of every minute, especially when lots of goals and benchmarks ride on student performance.

Adding something else to that already full plate can feel back-breaking and impossible.

When teachers talk to me about using technology in the classroom, they’ll sometimes say, “I don’t have time in class to add technology. We already have this and this and this to accomplish.”

They see technology as “just another thing” that they have to squeeze into their already overloaded schedule.

I can sympathize with that, but I also know there’s a whole different perspective to it.

Don’t see technology as “just another thing.” See it as your secret sauce. Your secret weapon to doing more and doing it better than ever.

Using technology in the classroom isn’t the silver bullet to cure all education ills. But it can be the key that opens up:

  • More engagement with students
  • More efficiency in classroom activities
  • Extra access to information and resources
  • New experiences students couldn’t get otherwise

If done correctly, technology shouldn’t be an extra piece to add to the puzzle. It should be the secret ingredient that makes the whole product higher quality. (I hope I didn’t mix metaphors too much there.)

If it can’t make class more engaging or more efficient, if it can’t provide more access or better experiences, here’s what I say …

Don’t use it.

I still use a pretty low-tech survey tool: raising hands. There’s no faster way to analyze data in a group than to say, “Raise your hand if you …”.

I could set up a Google Forms survey. I could use Poll Everywhere or TodaysMeet to let people vote.

Or I could just ask them to raise their hands. No tech can beat it for simplicity, speed and results.

For a moment, just for fun, let’s swap out technology with tartar sauce and see what happens. Imagine a teacher who says …

They say that tartar sauce is really good. I’ve heard that it makes fish taste much better. So … I’m supposed to use it. I tried eating it with a spoon out of a bowl, but that was pretty gross. I tried it on various things, like cereal and fruit salad and toast. It just doesn’t go with any of it.

How do we use tartar sauce? Some people add it to fish because they think it improves the fish experience, but they probably don’t add it to much else. Tartar sauce works in that situation. We don’t force it into every situation.

And we definitely don’t see it as a stand-alone. We wouldn’t invite friends over and serve it as the main dish or even a side. It enhances the experience of something else.

I’m pretty judicious about what “sauces” I let into the classroom. (By sauces, I mean technology. I know … now I’m really mixing metaphors!) I hear about lots of new tools and new ideas for instruction and student activities. I use very few of them with students or with teachers in professional development.

For me, they have to be simple, doable and scalable to a whole class. They have to save time or make for a much better activity than I’m currently using. Or I throw them out.

An example: Google Maps Street View, a tool I’m on a mission to spread to as many classrooms as possible. We used to look at simple pictures of world cities and basic maps. With Street View, you can drop students down on the streets of practically any city and let them check it out for themselves. They can use their own devices and explore, learning lessons like they would if they were really there.

It’s simple. It’s doable. It’s scalable to a whole class. The experience is much better, so I stick to it.

Finding that kind of technology to use in your classroom is a wise investment. Put it into place and it will pay dividends for years to come … maybe for the rest of your teaching career.

Let technology in the classroom be your tartar sauce, or your secret sauce. Add it to your favorite dish to enhance the experience. And if it doesn’t go well on your cereal, then just leave it in the fridge.

Question: What do you think of the phrase, ‘Tech is just another thing I have to deal with’? How do you manage integrating tech in the classroom? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Interested in having Matt present at your event or school? Contact him by e-mail!

Matt is scheduled to present at the following upcoming events:

  Date Event / Event Details City / More Info
+ 01/19/2015
Western Wayne (Ind.) Schools Pershing, IN
  Full-day Seminar:Ditch That Textbook: Why and How?Private Event
+ 01/31/2015
9:00-12:00 p.m.
U. Indy's Power of Education Conference Indianapolis, IN
  Keynote:Ditch That Textbook: My JourneyPublic Event
Sponsor:University of Indianapolis Student Education AssociationRegister to attend
Venue:University of Indianapolis Schwitzer Hall Basement
Indianapolis, IN
+ 02/03/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
World Languages Workshop @ Lafayette Jeff HS Lafayette, IN
  Venue:Jefferson High School
1801 S. 18th St.
Lafayette, IN 47905
765-772-4700
Private Event
+ 02/26/2015
9:00-4:05 p.m.
Indiana Conference on Learning Indianapolis, IN
  Workshop:Ditch That Textbook (et al)Public Event
Sponsor:American Student Achievement InstituteRegister to attend
Venue:Wyndham Indianapolis West Hotel
2544 Executive Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46241
317-248-2481
Get more information
+ 03/18/2015
08:00-04:00 p.m.
Fall Creek Intermediate School Workshop Fishers, IN
  Venue:Fall Creek Intermediate School
12011 Olio Road
Fishers, IN 46037
(317) 915-4220
Private Event
+ 03/19/2015
7:30-3:00 p.m.
Hamilton Southeastern (Ind.) Schools Fishers, IN
  Full-day Seminar:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
+ 04/09/2015
04:00-06:00 p.m.
PVETI Social Media Workshop Rockville, IN
  Sponsor:Parke-Vermillion Education and Training Interlocal (PVETI)Private Event
Venue:Rockville High School
506 N. Beadle St.
Rockville, IN 47872
765-569-5686
+ 04/11/2015—04/12/2015
08:30-05:30 p.m.
Indiana Google Apps for Education Summit Franklin, IN
  Sponsor:EdTech TeamPublic Event
Venue:Franklin Community High School
2600 Cumberland Drive
Franklin, IN 46131
317-346-8100
Register to attend
+ 05/01/2015
09:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ CIESC Indianapolis, IN
  Venue:Central Indiana Educational Service Center
6036 Lakeside Blvd., Building A
Indianapolis, IN 46278
317-759-5555
Public Event
+ 05/08/2015—05/09/2015
Education On Air by Google for Education  
  Sponsor:Google for EducationPublic Event
+ 05/08/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop (CIESC)  
  Sponsor:Central Indiana Educational Service CenterRegister to attend
+ 05/11/2015—05/13/2015
Ivy Tech Community College Tech Workshop  
  Sponsor:Ivy Tech Community College of IndianaPrivate Event
+ 06/02/2015—06/03/2015
PowerED Up Conference Leopold, IN
  Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
Venue:Perry Central Jr/Sr HS
18677 Old State Road 37
Leopold, IN 47551
812-843-5576
+ 06/04/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
HSE Summer Learning Fair Fishers, IN
  Sponsor:Hamilton Southeastern SchoolsPrivate Event
Venue:Fishers High School
13000 Promise Road
Fishers, IN 46038
(317) 915-4290
+ 06/08/2015
Greencastle EdTech Conference Greencastle, IN
  Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
+ 06/10/2015
08:00-04:00 p.m.
Connecting the 4 C's Conference @ Mt. Vernon (Ind.) Mount Vernon, IN
  Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
Venue:Mount Vernon High School
700 Harriett Street
Mount Vernon, IN 47620
812-833-5136
Register to attend
+ 06/11/2015—06/12/2015
8:00-3:00 p.m.
Yorktown WeLearn Conference Yorktown, IN
  Keynote:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningRegister to attend
Venue:Yorktown High School
1100 S. County Road 575 West
Yorktown, IN 47396
(765) 759-2550
Get more information
+ 06/15/2015—06/16/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Summer Spark Symposium Milwaukee, WI
  Venue:University School of Milwaukee
2100 West Fairy Chasm Road
Milwaukee, WI 53217
414-352-6000
Public Event
+ 06/17/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
eLEAD Madison County Anderson, IN
  Sponsor:CAPE of Madison CountyPublic Event
Venue:Anderson University
1100 E. 5th St.
Anderson, IN 46012
+ 06/22/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Seymour Schools Tech Workshop Seymour, IN
  Sponsor:Seymour Community SchoolsPublic Event
Venue:Seymour High School
1350 W. 2nd St.
Seymour, IN 47274
812-522-4384
+ 06/23/2015—06/24/2015
Digipalooza 2015 Scottsburg, IN
  Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
Venue:Scottsburg Middle School
425 S. 3rd St.
Scottsburg, IN 47170
812-752-8926
+ 06/25/2015—06/26/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
South Vermillion trAnSfoRM Conference Clinton, IN
  Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
Venue:South Vermillion High School
770 Wildcat Drive
Clinton, IN 47842
765-832-3551
+ 06/27/2015
09:00-03:00 p.m.
#ReadTL15 Conference Reading, West Berkshire, UK
  Sponsor:Reading College (Reading, West Berkshire, United Kingdom)Public Event
Venue:Reading College
King's Road, Reading, West Berkshire RG1 4HJ
Reading, West Berkshire, UK
United Kingdom
+44 800 371434
Register to attend
+ 06/28/2015—07/01/2015
ISTE Conference 2015 Philadelphia, PA
  Full-day Seminar:Sharing Is Caring: Collaborative Google Apps ActivitiesPublic Event
Sponsor:International Society for Technology in EducationRegister to attend
Venue:Pennsylvania Convention Center
1101 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
800-428-9000
Get more information
+ 07/08/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
USD 242 Weskan Schools Staff Development Weskan, KS
  Venue:Weskan Schools
219 Coyote Blvd.
Weskan, KS 67762
785-943-5222
Private Event
+ 07/22/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Northeastern Middle School Workshop Fountain City, IN
  Venue:Northeastern Middle School
7295 U.S. 27 North
Fountain City, IN 47341
(765) 847-1331
Private Event
+ 07/24/2015
08:00-3:00 p.m.
Greater Clark Connected Conference Jeffersonville, IN
  Sponsor:Greater Clark County SchoolsPublic Event
+ 07/28/2015—07/29/2015
Catching the Wave of eLearning Lafayette, IN
  Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
+ 07/30/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Seymour Schools Tech Workshop Seymour, IN
  Sponsor:Seymour Community SchoolsPrivate Event
Venue:Seymour High School
1350 W. 2nd St.
Seymour, IN 47274
812-522-4384
+ 08/10/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Idabel Public Schools  
  Sponsor:Idabel (OK) Public SchoolsPrivate Event
+ 08/13/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Palmer ISD (Texas) Palmer, TX
  Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
Venue:Palmer Independent School District
Palmer, TX
+ 08/18/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Brandywine Heights Area School District Topton, PA
  Workshop:The Digital PIRATE 
Sponsor:Brandywine Heights Area School District
+ 09/08/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Cascade Middle School Clayton, IN
  Venue:Cascade Middle School
6423 S. County Road 200 West
Clayton, IN 46118
(317) 539-9285
Private Event
+ 09/15/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ SIEC Jasper, IN
  Workshop:Ditch That Textbook Public Event
Sponsor:Southern Indiana Education Center
+ 09/23/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ WVEC West Lafayette, IN
  Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
+ 09/24/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ CIESC Indianapolis, IN
  Workshop:DItch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:Central Indiana Educational Service Center
+ 09/25/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
MSD of Steuben Co. (Ind.) Angola, IN
  Keynote:Ditch That Textbook Private Event
Sponsor:MSD of Steuben County
Venue:Angola High School
350 S. John McBride Ave.
Angola, IN 46703
260-665-2186
+ 10/03/2015—10/03/2015
weLEAD Symposium Islamabad, Pakistan
  Venue:Margalla Hotel
Islamabad, Pakistan
Pakistan
Public Event
+ 10/06/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Anderson (Ind.) Schools Anderson, Indiana
  Workshop:Ditch That Textbook Private Event
Sponsor:Anderson Community Schools
+ 10/07/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ Region 8 ESC Decatur, IN
  Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:Region 8 Educational Service Center
+ 10/08/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ NIESC Plymouth, IN
  Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:Northern Indiana Educational Services Center
Venue:Christo's Banquet Center
830 Lincolnway E, Plymouth
Plymouth, IN 46563
+ 10/12/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Tyler ISD Tyler, TX
  Sponsor:Tyler Indpendent School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 10/15/2015—10/16/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
ICE Conference (Indiana) Noblesville, IN
  Sponsor:Indiana Connected Educators ConferencePublic Event
Venue:Noblesville High School
18111 Cumberland
Noblesville, IN
Register to attend
+ 10/22/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Mt. Vernon CSC (Indiana) Fortville, IN
  Workshop:Ditch That Textbook Private Event
Sponsor:Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation
+ 11/10/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Cascade Middle School Clayton, IN
  Venue:Cascade Middle School
6423 S. County Road 200 West
Clayton, IN 46118
(317) 539-9285
Private Event
+ 11/11/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Hamilton Southeastern Schools (Indiana) Fishers/Noblesville, Indiana
  Full-day Seminar:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
Sponsor:Hamilton Southeastern Schools
+ 11/14/2015
09:00-02:30 p.m.
Northeast Literacy Retreat Fort Wayne, IN
   Public Event
+ 11/17/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ ECESC Connersville, IN
  Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:East Central Educational Service Center
+ 11/18/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook @ WCIESC Greencastle, Indiana
  Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:West Central Indiana Educational Service Center
+ 11/19/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Elgin Local Schools (Ohio) Elgin, OH
  Sponsor:Elgin Local SchoolsPrivate Event
+ 01/13/2016
8:00am-3:00pm
Madison eLearning Madison, IN
   Private Event
+ 01/18/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Hudson ISD (Texas) Lufkin, TX
  Venue:Hudson Indpendent School District
6735 Ted Trout Drive
Lufkin, TX 75904
936-875-3351
Private Event
+ 01/26/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
South Putnam Greencastle, IN
  Sponsor:South Putnam SchoolsPrivate Event
+ 02/03/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Sheridan MS/HS Sheridan, IN
  Sponsor:Sheridan Community SchoolsPrivate Event
+ 02/09/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Southern Indiana Education Center Jasper, IN
  Sponsor:Southern Indiana Education CenterPublic Event
Venue:Southern Indiana Education Center
1102 Tree Lane Drive
Jasper, IN 47546
812-482-6641
Register to attend
+ 02/15/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Educational Service Unit #13 Scottsbluff, NE
  Workshop:The Digital PIRATEPublic Event
Sponsor:Educational Service Unit #13
+ 02/16/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Rockford Public Schools Rockford, MI
  Keynote:Ditch That Textbook!Private Event
Sponsor:Rockford Public Schools
+ 02/24/2016—02/25/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
ICE Conference St. Charles, IL
  Sponsor:Illinois Computing EducatorsPublic Event
Venue:Pheasant Run Resort and Conference Center
4051 E. Main St.
St. Charles, IL 60174
(630) 584-6300
Register to attend
+ 02/25/2016—02/26/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
ICE Conference (Illinois) St. Charles, IL
  Sponsor:Illinois Computing EducatorsPublic Event
+ 03/07/2016
01:15-03:30 p.m.
Mandan Public Schools Mandan, ND
  Sponsor:Mandan Public School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 03/09/2016—03/11/2016
MACUL Conference Grand Rapids, MI
  Sponsor:Michigan Association for Computer Users in LearningPublic Event
Venue:DeVos Place
303 Monroe Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 742-6500
Register to attend
+ 03/14/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Concordia Lutheran HS Fort Wayne, IN
  Sponsor:Concordia Lutheran High SchoolPrivate Event
+ 03/23/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Westwood Community School District Sloan, IA
  Sponsor:Westwood Community School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 04/13/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Wabash Valley Education Center West Lafayette, IN
  Workshop:Ditch That Textbook!Public Event
Sponsor:Wabash Valley Education CenterRegister to attend
Venue:Wabash Valley Education Center
3061 Benton Street
West Lafayette, IN 47906
(765) 463-1589
+ 04/18/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Monroe #1 BOCES (New York) Fairport, N.Y.
  Full-day Seminar:The Digital PIRATEPublic Event
Sponsor:Monroe #1 BOCES
+ 04/26/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Caesar Rodney School District Camden, DE
  Keynote:Ditch That Textbook Private Event
Venue:Caesar Rodney High School
239 Old North Road
Camden, DE 19934
+ 05/03/2016
Paoli Community School Corporation Paoli, IN
  Venue:To be determined
Paoli, IN
Private Event
+ 05/25/2016
09:00-09:45 a.m.
Pacific Northwest Apprenticeship Education Conference Portland, OR
  Sponsor:The Bureau of Labor and Industries, Oregon Building Congress and Oregon Tradeswomen Inc.Public Event
Venue:DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Conference Center
1000 NE Multnomah Street
Portland, OR
Register to attend
+ 05/31/2016
10:30-12:00pm
West Central Career Cooperative Crawfordsville, IN
  Venue:Crawfordsville Country Club
Crawfordsville, IN
Private Event
+ 06/06/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
PowerED Up Conference Leopold, IN
  Venue:Perry Central Schools
18677 Old State Road 37
Leopold, IN 47551
(812) 843-5576
Public Event
+ 06/07/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Making a Splash with Digital Learning Conference Batesville, IN
  Venue:Batesville Community School Corporation
626 N. Huntersville Road
Batesville, IN 47006
(812) 934-2194
Public Event
+ 06/08/2016—06/09/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ignite Your Superpower Lafayette, IN
  Venue:Sunnyside Intermediate School
530 N 26th St
Lafayette, IN 47904
(765) 771-6100
Public Event
+ 06/13/2016—06/14/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Summer Spark (Wisconsin) Milwaukee, WI
  Sponsor:University School of MilwaukeePublic Event
+ 06/15/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
REMAST Conference (South Dakota) Brookings, S.D.
  Sponsor:South Dakota State Noyce Scholarship ProgramPublic Event
+ 06/20/2016
Indianapolis Sister Cities Int'l Conference Indianapolis, IN
  Keynote:Connecting Your Classroom to the WorldPublic Event
Sponsor:Indianapolis Sister Cities InternationalRegister to attend
Venue:Covenant Christian High School
7525 W. 21st St.
Indianapolis, IN 46214
+ 06/22/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Western North Dakota ESA Dickinson, ND
  Workshop:The Digital PIRATEPublic Event
+ 06/26/2016—06/29/2016
ISTE Conference Denver, CO
  Venue:Colorado Convention Center
700 14th St.
Denver, CO 80202
Public Event
+ 07/12/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
MSD of Martinsville Martinsville, IN
  Sponsor:MSD of MartinsvillePrivate Event
+ 07/13/2016—07/14/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Pulaski County Special School District Little Rock, AR
  Sponsor:Pulaski County Special School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 07/18/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Sheridan/Hamilton Heights Sheridan, IN
   Public Event
+ 07/19/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Launching INquiry Fishers, IN
  Venue:Fishers High School College & Career Academy
13000 Promise Rd
Fishers, IN 46038
Public Event
+ 07/20/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Blended Learning Summit Salina, KS
  Sponsor:Smoky Hill Education Service CenterPublic Event
Venue:Smoky Hill Education Service Center
605 E. Crawford
Salina, KS 67401
785-825-9185
+ 07/21/2016
08:30-04:00 p.m.
iPadpaloozaEastTX Longview, TX
  Keynote:Ditch That Textbook!Public Event
Sponsor:Region 7 Education Service CenterRegister to attend
Venue:Pine Tree High School
900 Northwest Drive
Longview, TX 75604
(903) 295-5031
Get more information
+ 07/22/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Tyler ISD Tyler, TX
  Sponsor:Tyler ISD 
+ 07/25/2016—07/26/2016
E3 Technology Conference Warsaw, IN
  Venue:Warsaw High School
1 Tiger Lane
Warsaw, IN 46580
(574) 371-5098
Public Event
+ 08/01/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Catholic High School New Iberia, LA
  Sponsor:Catholic High SchoolPrivate Event
Venue:Catholic High School
1301 de La Salle Drive
New Iberia, LA 70560
+ 08/05/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Fort Wayne Lutheran Schools Partnership Fort Wayne, IN
  Sponsor:Fort Wayne Lutheran Schools PartnershipPrivate Event
+ 08/09/2016
Southwest School Corporation Sullivan, IN
  Venue:Southwest School Corporation
110 North Main Street
Sullivan, IN 47882
(812) 268-6311
Private Event
+ 08/11/2016
Groesbeck ISD Tech Conference Groesbeck, TX
  Keynote:Ditch That Textbook!Private Event
Venue:Groesbeck Independent School District
1202 N. Ellis
Groesbeck, TX 76642
(254) 729-4100
+ 08/15/2016
Beggs Public Schools Beggs, OK
  Venue:Beggs Public Schools
1201 West 9th
Beggs, OK 74421
(918) 267-3628
Private Event
+ 08/16/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Etoile ISD Etoile, TX
  Sponsor:Etoile ISDPrivate Event
+ 08/17/2016
8:00-3:00 pm
Tech Academy  
   Private Event
+ 08/22/2016—08/23/2016
West Central School District Hartford, SD
  Venue:West Central School District
705 E. 2nd St.
Hartford, SD 57033
(605) 528-3217
Private Event
+ 08/24/2016
8:00am-3:00pm
Walled Lake Consolidated School District  
   Public Event
+ 08/25/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Hillsboro School District Hillsboro, OR
  Sponsor:Hillsboro School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 08/29/2016
8:00am-3:00pm
Service Learning School District Detroit, MI
  Sponsor:Service Learning School District 
+ 09/16/2016
New Prairie High School New Carlisle, IN
  Venue:New Praire High School
New Carlisle, IN
Private Event
+ 09/19/2016
Big Walnut Local Schools Sunbury, OH
  Workshop:The Digital PIRATE: Tech Like a PIRATEPrivate Event
Venue:Big Walnut Local Schools
36 Harrison St
Sunbury, OH 43074
(740) 965-3205
+ 09/20/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
NH Best Practices in Curriculum, Assessment and Assessment Conference Concord, NH
  Sponsor:New Hampshire School Administrators AssociationPublic Event
Venue:Grappone Conference Center
Concord, NH
+ 10/12/2016—10/13/2016
Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency Betterdorf, IA
  Sponsor:Mississippi Area Bend Education AgencyPrivate Event

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17 thoughts on “Seeing tech in the classroom as ‘just another thing’

  1. I consider myself a moderate user of tech. I am a 40 something teacher and am therefore not a native user. This year I adopted a digital textbook. It has been a weird transition, but I am committed to using it rather than complain about it. Is it the same as my old textbook, “no”, but it also offers interactive tools for my students and they don’t have to haul that big book home. I’m sure I am not using it to its full potential, but like old school textbooks, as I become more familiar I will use it more. I say that, but I also go weeks where I never use the book in the class because we are completing a pbl project. I like the blend of old school content and new school pbl. I must be experienced, but not too experienced.

    • Perhaps the biggest problem is not being able to use technology to its fullest potential. I too am seeking the blend of text and data which sometimes drives my students, their parents, and the administration up the wall. Hang in there and keep expanding your horizons. That is what all excellent teachers strive to do.

  2. I have embraced technology and its integration for many reasons. Holding on to the old norm and mores and teaching is hard to justify in the 21st century and that has driven me to fully integrate my class.
    Consider this: I teach Middle School Social Studies. Because everything is on the computer I never worry about students forgetting a book, paper, pencil, assignment, or resource. They only have to remember the computer.
    If they forget to have the computer charged, I have charging stations on the tables. I never have the debate about whether an assignment has been turned in or not graded. Everything is on Google classroom.
    Lessons only get stale if I let them. The web is an infinite source of new ideas and tools. I am trying new things all the time and as each new tool is presented, students then get to choose their favorite one. This empowers students.
    Technology allows me to incorporate my Global Collaboration seamlessly. My students have already talked to students in 5 different countries with 5 more scheduled for the rest of the year. My kids love doing this and it is so much fun.
    Finally, and most importantly, people who created the tech tools and lessons know that if that are to clunky or difficult to use people won’t use them! They have to be user friendly. My students watch a YouTube video, I give them a little sandbox time, and we jump in. Students know that they will be given the opportunity to express if that they like the new technology or not at the end but they MUST have a reason for their belief

  3. It is a team effort involving parents and home. In Wichita we are exploring using increases visuals that allow the child to make their own decisions and discovery. Time is wasted forcing concepts that are resisted. By giving more choice the flow increases and will eventually inspire the parents to play a larger role in their own curiosity which works for both. Like kids using enthusiasm to win parents. There also may be experimental off campus connections with community, using desired role models to win the kids imagination to become. This positive role admiration goes both ways and creates the methods to win parents next. It does take a village

  4. I teach 7th grade math, which is kind of the transition year from learning how to work with numbers to learning how to solve problems. I used to feel that technology was “just another thing.” I couldn’t figure out how to incorporate technology, inquiry-based learning, real-life projects, and the standards that are assessed every year. Thankfully, I discovered that technology can help me do many of those other things that we are supposed to do – differentiate to meet student needs, use formative assessments, motivate students, and of course provide quick and meaningful feedback. I use Forms if I just want to assess accuracy, and Formative or Docs if I need to see student thinking or how they are solving problems. Instead of worksheets to practice a concept, they use games, then take a quick quiz to show me they understood. My kiddos love the auto-grading – they want an immediate response on everything. For those that aren’t understanding, I use sites like Khan Academy to give them tutorials and extra practice. I also make presentations with Slides and embed videos so they have help at home. All of this is delivered through Classroom, which has been amazing to use. I spend less time grading, make way fewer copies, and have fewer students with zeroes.

  5. Perhaps we could think of technology as the delivery system for what we want to teach, rather than “just another thing” to teach. Taking the food metaphors at “bite” further, technology may be the secret sauce to add “flavor” to the lesson, but technology may also be the bread or the bun that, like a “sandwich,” makes the lesson easier to get a hold of and munch on. Buon appetito!

  6. As a teacher of 40 years, I first ran from the thought of using computers in my classroom. I wanted to use paper, pen, and raising hands to communicate. Yet as I become immersed in this “brave new world” that allows the user to control not only the source of information but also the amount of information gathered, I realize that I must develop that ability to use and to teach using such tools as the CLOUD, GOOGLE CLASSROOM, DRIVE, and even social media sites. I want my students to know how to use the tools of technology so that they will succeed in both the virtual and real worlds. Many time I flounder trying to explain something I do not fully understand, but some one in class can usually translate what I am trying to say into language that most, if not all, students understand. The more I explore the possibilities for education that technology holds, the more I realize that staying only one step behind the explosion of technological uses, hard ware, and soft ware is fast becoming the norm.

  7. I totally disagree with that attitude of tech being a burden. I consider myself a Digital Resident and I understand that makes it easier for me than for other teacher peers. I use tech if it makes my life easier, makes my students’ lives easier, or allows me to do something I couldn’t otherwise do. For example: I post our materials on our LMS (Canvas) so I don’t have to make a thousand copies a day. I assign homework through an app (Duolingo) so students can work on it anytime anywhere. Or I use things like Skype or Twitter to connect with people not in our building.

  8. I think the concern about tech on the part of teachers is often misplaced. Here is a part of a piece that I am working for a Shanghai publication that addresses why I believe the focus on tech is a distractor, a chimaera:
    Life is fundamentally relational. This understanding is key to the teaching profession. The first priority we K-12 teachers have is to establish a positive relationship with all of our students. Our challenge is to prepare our students for a life of learning, growth, and collaboration in both formal and informal settings. We seek to guide our charges toward becoming insightful and conscientious citizens of the world. To accomplish this task we teach content and skills, model behaviors, and employ instructional strategies and tools that maximize the teaching/learning process and foster the teacher-student relationship.
    One means through which we build effective relationships while modeling lifelong learning is mastering the educational tools that are most engaging and effective for the task. Education Technology, or Ed Tech, is a subset of these tools. Like other tools, the focus must not be on the tool itself but rather on the task being accomplished. As Dr. Heidi-Hayes Jacobs, master of curriculum design, reminds us, “Teachers need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing it as an add-on, an afterthought, or an event.” There really are times when a pencil and paper are the best tools for the purpose. At other times using Ed Tech tools that make possible the building and analyzing of data sets, constructing and programing of robots, or the crafting of virtual worlds are the best tools …
    Alvin Toffler, Sociologist and Futurist, is quoted as saying, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” K-12 teachers use Ed Tech tools to teach the new literacy.

  9. I think teachers have to find a good balance. It cannot be looked at as something additional in the classroom. Perhaps start small, give your students a Padlet or a Poplet to complete or an option to do a hand-drawn poster or a screencast. Build the tech in slowly. The technology piece has helped me tremendously in terms of not having so much paper. For example HW can be completed via Edmodo or other platform making for quick feedback to students. It is a big learning curve, but for me, it has opened up many more opportunities for students to show me what they know other than through the traditional assessment pieces. Thanks for an informative piece.

  10. Sometimes the trick is using tech with just a couple of students at a time and keeping things simple. For example, this week I’m teaching my preschoolers to use the camera on our iPads. I show two at a time during playtime, and then I say, “Now, go find three things in our room that are circles and take pictures of them. Come back when you have three pictures.” I focused on one skill – using the camera – and just two students. At the same time, however, I was able to assess one of our math standards – identifying circles. Breaking big projects into smaller pieces makes the task more manageable.

  11. This is exactly the post I was looking for! I am doing a PD session with my staff next week on this very topic. I agree, technology doesn’t need to be used just for technology’s sake. It also doesn’t have to be used an entire class period. But it should be used when it will enhance a lesson and when it will make a teacher’s job easier. Great post, Matt!

  12. I LOVE this post! I was just thinking about writing a similar post, but you beat me to it. 😉 I’ve started using the world “intentional” with a lot of areas in my life. It works perfectly with tech integration. If I’m not intentional about using the technology, the students will see through the smoke and mirrors. Using tech for tech sake is a terrible idea. People are surprised when they come into my room, and I’m not using technology. I tell them that there are lessons I just want the kids to act out or draw on their desks or step away from the technology altogether.

    My school is going 1:1 next year, and I know this is going to be a common phrase we hear as we try and train the teachers in using the tech meaningfully and intentionally. I want to make the teachers’ jobs and lives a bit easier with great technology. I hope we can provide the teachers with a few sites and apps that’ll make their life easier and better in the long run.

  13. Technology is just another tool; it’s almost like our curriculum and resources we have available. Pick and choose what works for you. You don’t have to do it all!

  14. I love the ‘tartar sauce’ analogy. It is hard to incorporate technology in meaningful ways, sometimes. Getting bogged down with day to day lessons, activities, and requirements can really overwhelm a teacher.