Anyone who knows my teaching style knows I love integrating technology and I love to pilot new programs and apps. However, the debate always comes up, how much is too much technology?
First, let me make clear, putting a student on a reading or math program all day is not okay (even if it is at their ability level). As much as I do love using technology in the classroom, I will never condone that practice, no matter how amazing the program might be.
The reality is however, that our children are growing up in a technology rich world, and technology will only increase as they become adults. Teachers must integrate technology for a multitude of reasons but mostly to make sure are students are adequately prepared to enter the workforce and adult hood. Below are a few reasons how integrating technology into your classroom can benefit the student and teacher.
Saving Time for the Teacher
The first reason we need to integrate technology is to save time! At the end of the day, we need to spend majority of our time teaching if we are going to make a difference in a students education. Anytime spent grading, copying, meetings and other duties takes away from that valuable face to face instruction. We need to be creative and find ways to reduce the time we spend on other activities so we can focus on the most important thing, the students!
A few years ago my county switched to standards based grading. While I know standards based grading is in the best of interest of our students, it caused me to spend so much more time grading and completing report cards. A few years ago I ditched the gradebook and adopted this digital gradebook. Rather than inputing scores by date, I input scores by standard. So all assignments tied to that standard are in one location on a Google Sheet. When it comes to report cards, all I have to do is quickly scan the heading with that standard and I can instantly give a final score for a students report card.
To Enhance Understanding
Another reasons to utilize more technology in the classroom is to use to enhance a students understanding of a concept. A few years ago interactive notebooks flooded classrooms and were a huge hit for many. I personally didn’t love interactive notebooks, they were so much work and were a challenge for some students to keep up with. I also taught science at the time and I needed a way to provided great visuals for students that were clear and in color preferably (wishful thinking, right?)
Digital interactive notebooks, are exactly what they sound like they are. They are interactive notebooks that are digital (typically in Google Slides). Instead of cutting, glueing and folding students are typing, dragging and linking. Students are not only practicing computer skills needed for the future, but I am able to provide them with visuals that promote a better understanding. I can also link in online articles and videos on the particular concept. Students will also never lose this notebook since it’s in Google Drive and they can easily share with their families to show them what they are doing in the classroom.
To Provide Rigorous Learning Opportunities
Another reason to integrate technology is to provide rigorous learning opportunities. We know good teaching is all about providing learning opportunities for students, especially real world experiences. This can be so challenging to do sometimes with limited time and resources.
Providing real world experiences can be much easier when you do them digitally. Like this PBL in which students must plan a vacation for a celebrity. They explore different travel websites, and document all their expenses on the Google slides. This saves time and paper for teachers. This also means less chaos in the classroom as there will be no papers students have to keep track. Students are still focused on the math skills, but the integration of technology helps to provide an easier way to apply their understanding.
To Teach Remotely
While not ideal, with Covid-19 impacting or schools in 2020, remote teaching became a reality for many schools across the globe. Teaching students remotely was the only way for us to continue the learning opportunities for our students.
In this case, using technology wasn’t an option for many teachers. Thankfully there were many teachers that created and sold amazing digital products. However, having resources that could be used digitally during remote teaching AND used in physical form when teachers & students were back in the classroom is a huge plus for teachers. They can purchase products that can be used digitally while remote teaching but then can be printed and used when they were back in the classroom.
I will likely always be that teacher that integrates technology daily. It not only helps me, but helps my students with their education. Technology is exactly what you make it, if you just put your students on a computer program all day you will likely not see the growth you want. When you use it as a tool to provide opportunities for learning, you will likely find engaged & excited students who are pushing their learning to the next level. I’d love to hear how do you integrate technology in your own classroom.