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Technology Integration

My philosophy of technology integration has changed greatly in the last year. Until this year, I have been so overwhelmed trying to fit inside the “box” of meeting all the requirements (testing, teaching, implementing C-Scope with fidelity, Easy Tech skills each week, library time, figuring out who hit who on the playground, handing out Band-Aids for paper cuts, dealing with issues being brought from home that affect focus, progress monitoring, etc…) that I had lost sight of the ultimate goal: to enable self-motivated, life-learners who cherish education and see the value of it in their lives. And somewhere in between all of those things- I am expected to teach them to read and write along the way.

Until this time, technology integration has been “just one more thing to do.” Then we were told the campus computer techs would be rotating to various campuses throughout the year (our regular computer tech would be visiting a different campus than ours), and I was really turned off. Not that I relied on her for a ton of things, but she was knowledgeable about our kids, the programs, and what to do in the spur of the moment when you can’t exactly throw in a work order and wait for someone to come to your aid. This meant that we, as teachers, would have to be able to solve our own tech problems as they arose (for the most part). “So in addition to ALLLLLL of these other things, they are now taking away our campus tech who is knowledgeable about our programs, our kids… US away and replacing her with someone who knows nothing about us and we don’t know??!?” If I am honest here, I will admit- I was bitter.

It was then that a dear friend asked if we would like to subscribe to a complimentary subscription of Tech and Learning. Because I can’t turn down anything free, I subscribed. I began reading each month about different programs and issues happening in technology within schools and finding myself excited to receive the next month’s issue. I started looking up some of the blogs and websites the magazine featured. I also signed up for our region’s Mobile Mania Conference in hopes of learning more about how to integrate some of the things I had been reading about.

All of this led to a wonderment about technology and the mind shift began- Technology doesn’t (and shouldn’t) be “one more thing” I have to worry about and learn about. I don’t have to have ALL of the answers. I can pretend to be a guinea pig; and my kids and I can try out different programs and links that we like. This new way of thinking freed up my must-have-control personality to explore and enjoy different sites. I joined Learnist and began exploring other people’s boards dealing with technology in education. This became a Pandora’s Box, along with Twitter chats that I would stalk at night in my free time. These people I did not know and had never met were so excited and alive! I began to see possibilities.

I started keeping a list (hand-written, of course. I do, after all, have an honest to God love affair with paper) of all of the cool websites, programs, and ideas I found interesting, along with any user names and passwords I used to join those sites. This late night routine of cyber stalking various programs and possibilities was like a guilty pleasure. About this time we finished with STAAR testing, and were able to embark on the usual “Oregon Trail” simulation I have played (and enjoyed) with my kids each year after testing. A tickling notion began to take over- what if I implemented some of the cool resources I had been tinkering with? My class and I had just finished using VoiceThread (after reading about VoiceThread on someone’s Learnist board) to create a poetry project and that was fairly successful. Best of all, I was excited and the kids were excited.

Through this series of events, my thinking and philosophy began to change. I started to see technology as something that MUST be included in my content, not only because it’s where we are in society, but ultimately, I truly want my students to be successful in the years to come, they must be tech savvy.

I have come to learn there are so many options out there in the tech world to enhance your content that to NOT use it is a total waste of resources on our part as teachers. As many of us know, we are preparing our children for jobs that don’t even exist for problems in the future we don’t even know are problems at this present time. How can you NOT integrate technology into as many facets of your teaching as possible? My philosophy is simple, to learn and integrate as much as I can to not only better myself as an educator, but also enhance the learning of my students. I’m just beginning; and I can’t wait to see what we create! We currently have 2 student desktops, and I bring in my two personal iPads and daughter’s iPod to use as much as possible!

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