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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Integrating Tech Really Does Pay Off

Trying new things is scary, especially in technology. And with all the new tools that come out every year it can be
downright daunting. Where to begin? It is overwhelming when you already have a full plate just keeping up with
day to day responsibilities.

As a Tech coordinator in my school, I try to share out cool and engaging resources as I come across them.
I research tools so I can see how they play out in the classroom and then recommend them to teachers who might
like to try them. I think it’s important to keep the teacher in mind when I try new things.

Of course, my true guinea pigs are my students. If I like something, I will try it in class first, incorporating it into a
lesson. My classes will give me feedback on the new tool so I can judge if it’s lesson-worthy.

Over the years I have refined my go-to tools and use them regularly--the others I use for specific projects as they
fit. I will say as a caveat -- I do not use technology for the sake of it -- and do not recommend it for that reason
either. It must serve a purpose to furthering the learning process and it must make the teacher’s job easier.


With that said, I also think it’s important for lessons to be looked at and refreshed from time to time. After 17
years, I readily admit that even I get bored with some lessons. I often survey students afterward to see what
worked and what didn’t. I adjust the lesson delivery or abandon it altogether. I find something new to make
the topic more interesting.


So with all that’s available, how do you know what’s right for you?


Reach out! Talk to your edtech person (if you have one), talk to your colleagues, get on social media!! There
is a plethora of resources online. There is one thing that I know and yet am always surprised by and that’s the
generosity of teachers. People are using and creating curriculum resources every day. Why reinvent the wheel?
Over the years I have found some tried and true sites that offer fantastic ideas. There are also innovative
leaders in education who are on social media and sharing their stuff all the time (blogs, twitter, Facebook).
Check my links on the sidebar and at the end of this article for some of these people.


To avoid the “try it all and use nothing” syndrome -- PICK 1 THING. Pick one thing to try in a lesson and
use it until you’re comfortable with it. Once it becomes part of your teaching toolbox, try something else.
But, give it a chance. Try it with your kids and reflect on its effectiveness. Soon your arsenal will grow
and become refined. If you have trouble, get help first. If after you’ve tried it and it doesn’t work or
infuse something into your lessons--move on.


Trying new things is scary, but sometimes the payoff is how the student remembered the information
because of the way it’s presented or how they were engaged in it.


Last night I ran into a former student. This was a kid who I worried about. He didn’t always get his
work done--but when he did, it was inspired. He told me how well he was doing, an A student now.
He made a point of saying how well I had prepared him. He had even shown his teacher some
things he had learned with me. (I beamed inside). Sometimes you don’t get the affirmation you want
at the time, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t made an impact where it counts.


Take a look at your lessons. Find one that has some dust on it. Blow the dust off and infuse some
new life into it. Your students might actually thank you.


Some of my favorite Teacher Tweeters
Pinterest is a great resource for whatever you’re looking for - personal or professional
Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) - free and paid lesson plans