Philosophy of Technology Integration (and some thoughts on PD)

Our school is now a 1:1 Chromebook school. Each teacher had to come up with their own personal philosophy of technology integration / blended learning. I thought I would share mine here. I did know I believed all of these things, I just never really had anything on paper. We had to do this during our PD time or at home. 
- Sidenote 1: PD time for my school: 45 minutes before school. From 7:00 to 7:45. Every day of the week. Mondays are designated RTI days. Fridays are designated as team planning. Tuesday through Thursdays change each week. Sidenote 2: I'm not a big fan of group PD. I coach basketball after school. School ends at 3:00. Basketball ends at 5:00. That's 10 hours. So I want my time before school to work on things that will directly influence my students. I don't like sitting in meetings where there is no benefit to myself or my students. I want to spend my time helping plan great lessons. I want to spend my time dreaming of ways to engage my students. I am a very connected educator. I spend a lot of my downtime finding treasure on twitter. Sometimes I feel that large group PD is so useless to connected educators because the connected educators have already heard the news and more often than not, implemented it into their classrooms already. I think meeting everyday is too much. Twice a week is enough. Rant over, back to regularly scheduled programming. 
Although, I'm not a fan of doing things just to fill up time. I feel that I grew through doing this. I do think it's great to put your philosophy onto paper. It helps you as a teacher and as a learner. I originally thought of just using "Use Technology. Use it a lot." as the entire philosophy. I know that it technically would work and it is fairly accurate in describing what should happen with technology, but there were some parameters that I needed to include. I think this "assignment" was good for me, because it forced me to really think about how I will use technology in my classroom.  What's your philosophy? Is there anything that you agree with? disagree with? Anything I didn't cover that I need to? 


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This notion that you must be taught something is no more.  With technology putting education at the fingertips, the student has become the receiver, applier, and creator of knowledge. The information that is available is constantly evolving and improving.  As an educator preparing students for what an unknown future may be like, I need to focus on the skills that will make students successful no matter their chosen field.





My Background


I have always been someone who was fascinated with technology. The information age seemed to begin during my educational career, so I pick up on it very easily and am self-taught at a lot of technological programs. I have found that “playing around” is the best way to learn something new and that is my approach with new technology. I have learned the most from accessing my PLN on twitter.  Twitter’s “community” of educators is phenomenal in that it gives you the ability to connect with others around the globe immediately.



Thoughts on Technology Education


Technology that is integrated into the classroom must be relevant and appropriately challenging. It can’t be a stand-alone entity that is used to just to say you used technology.  Technology must be used alongside the curriculum to enhance the learning.


Technology is just a tool in the learning process. Sometimes, I’m quick to forget that the #2 pencil and lined paper is technology and it still has extreme value. Doing something digitally may not be the best way to accomplish something. I have to remember it’s about the learning, not the technology.


Technology can be overwhelming. There are thousands, if not millions, of ways that technology can be integrated into the classroom. I must be cognizant of what I am using the technology to accomplish. It is better to be extremely knowledgeable on a few items of technology than having hardly any knowledge on many. With that being said, it is equally important to use the most appropriate piece of technology. Technology is meant to make things easier. No matter how hard you try, square pegs don’t go into round holes.


Technology forces us to re-imagine the classroom. Today’s classroom is not a 30’x30’ square with four walls, one door, a whiteboard, a teacher desk, and 30 student desks. The world and the internet is now the classroom. I propose a shift from using classroom to learning environment. Students now communicate and collaborate with each other and with others outside the school network, including adults and others on the other side of the world. I need to start thinking of the classroom as a room with an endless amount of doors to a never-ending amount of more rooms, and an unlimited amount of connection tunnels between all the rooms. No longer is information only available through a 10 pound textbook.


Technology aides in helping students become life-long learners. I can’t begin to tell you how many students have asked me a question while sitting in a computer lab and not realizing that the information was sitting right in front of them. With students and technology being 1:1, learning can happen instantly almost anywhere.


What Using Technology Looks Like


The goals of 21st century learning in the elementary classroom are helping each child communicate, collaborate, and exercise creativity and critical thinking while both consuming and producing content that connects them with their world in ways that are personally meaningful and relevant.


What does 21st century learning look like in my classroom, err learning environment?


The content. Technology allows for the content of lessons to be delivered in many different ways. Lectures have gone by the wayside in favor of videos and simulations. I’m not saying there isn’t a time and place for lectures. But when thinking about the way that students learn today, it is not the most effective.  There are now many avenues in which to deliver content to the students.


The process. The process of education is changing. It has changed from the traditional method of sit-and-get and write essays where the teacher will grade it after submission. With the advancements in technology, students are now able to collaborate alongside the teacher and other students while they are actually completing their assignment. The constant feedback will help shape learners a lot better than after the assignment is completed. Another aspect of how the process is changing is that digital assignment are now given where there is nothing physical to be handed into the teacher. Teachers are now using learning management systems to manage assignments, announcements, and basically anything related to the classroom. Since technology is now available in students’ homes, some of the content can be learned at home. This frees up valuable time during the school day for teachers to devote their time on helping students fully understand the content. While things are changing, these changes are preparing students to succeed later in life.


The products. I believe that while content and process are incredibly important, where I see students benefiting the most from technology is the products created. When students learn something, they need to apply the knowledge in one way or another. The multitude of ways that students can now accomplish application/creation is unreal. When using our Interactive Notebooks in social studies, I try and make the students apply what they learned through creating something that shows off their knowledge. Doing this lets students make sense of the learning in their own way. What is most intriguing about the products created today is that in some situations, the students can become the teacher to others. When students are able to think critically about a topic by determining multiple viewpoints, then are able to create something that represents their thinking, and while creating they are collaborating and communicating with others they are using skills that will benefit them for a lifetime.





Summary


To sum it up, technology is readily available to my students and when using it appropriately will challenge my students and allow them the opportunity to acquire the skills to be self-directed lifelong learners.

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