It’s become more important than ever for students to be encouraged to explore educational opportunities for themselves. In traditional education, much of the time was spent waiting for the teacher or other students, but technology promises the ability for students to go as far and as fast as they can.
When students teach others they learn a topic more thoroughly than if they received knowledge in a passive state. It’s important that students see teachers actively learning and going through that process ourselves. I loving bringing students to conferences and exposing them to our learning process.
What is the best part of your job?
Working with the kids, hands down. It always surprises me that it seems like the more accolades and money that an educator earns, the further they seem to be from daily interaction with students.
What was your path to your current position?
I began as a fifth grade teacher and loved it. I integrated technology in almost everything we did as a class and was asked to do the same for the rest of the district. I was hesitant initially because of what I mentioned above, but at every step I have been able to incorporate working directly with students into whatever I do, whether it’s providing professional development for teachers or even going to conferences.
What skill(s) do you feel are most important for today’s students to explore in academic settings (tech or non-tech related)?
Tech should never be the ends in itself, but rather built into some greater educational purpose. The tech skills that students develop should always have a greater purpose. For example, one of the projects we’re looking at now is having my students create 3D simulations for the CDC, who would use them to train health providers across the country. The students learn the tech skills in the development of the simulations and content, but it servers a greater good and will help others in tangible ways.
For a teacher looking to use technology to connect with students, enhance learning or embrace 21st century skills, where do you suggest one begin?
My short and sweet answer would be to explore what’s currently out there being done, find something that makes sense to your own situation, grade level, position, etc. and go for it. There are a ton of educators online who love to help others. It’s really an incredible community. ((Longer answer online at http://thetechcurve.blogspot.com/2010/08/getting-started.html))
Do you have a curriculum strand that exemplifies effective technology integration?
The Student Showcase ((http://www.studentshowcase.org)) we run every year. It’s not specifically meant to be technology focused, but rather a showcase of student talent and much of it has a technological aspect to it. Here is the site we maintain with more information.
It’s crucial for the students to present the work they do to a larger audience than just their teachers. When that becomes the expectation, it changes the ‘game of school’ that kids have always played and it becomes more about the quality of the work over who you are doing it for. This was captured perfectly in a video I did with some of our 1st graders. I asked them what they thought about presenting their work to all the parents and this first grader said it better than I ever could: