Note this is the first of the posts I will be bringing over from my previous blog. This was originally posted on February 13, 2012.
I have always considered myself a technology junkie. I am always interested in the latest and greatest pieces of technology. When possible I try to get my hands on as much technology as possible. My interests range from the latest televisions to the latest smart phones.
Even when I was in school technology was becoming a factor in education. I remember going to “computers” as a special during the primary grades for math and reading practice. Compared to today’s computer programs the ones I used were beyond bare bones. The screen was black and math problems would show up in small bluish-white text. There were no graphics and there was no sound. In fact, up until fourth or fifth grade the computers had no mouse, just a keyboard (a limited few had a device that looked like a ball that was kind of like a mouse). During my time in middle and high school I was exposed to more and more technology at school, but it wasn’t until my sophomore or junior year that the internet exploded.
While becoming an educator I took a roundabout route. My first undergraduate degree was earned at Syracuse University in English. Four years later I earned my teaching degree from SUNY Oneonta. Interestingly, enough even though I completed my teaching preparatory coursework in the past ten years implementing technology into lessons was rarely, if ever, discussed. My interest and experience of using technology to teach came primarily through observing colleagues. If a colleague of mine was doing something “educationally cool” using technology I would try to copy and build on what they had done. Of course the desire to use technology is only half of what is needed. The second half is actually having access to technology.
My first year teaching fifth and sixth grade I had very little technology in my classroom. In fact, a teacher computer, overhead projector, and a television cart were the only pieces of technology in my classroom. Wanting and knowing how to use technology does not offset the fact that technology costs money. Even though some of technology expenses are reimbursed by the state the costs still can add up very quickly. Over the last six years through grants, solicitation, and good old-fashioned begging I have been able to add a lot of technology to my classroom.
My first additions were small. My second year I was able to get a secondhand data projector and document camera. The following year I was able to permanently “borrow” a laptop from our building’s laptop cart. During that school year I wrote a grant proposal to the Parisian Foundation, a local organization that frequently helps schools out. I asked for funding to buy and install a SmartBoard in my classroom. The installation of the SmartBoard coincided with my move from primarily teaching English to primarily teaching social studies. As a novice SmartBoard user it was much easier to integrate social studies lessons than it would have been to integrate English lessons. (With experience, training and experimentation I have been able to successfully implement lessons in all academic areas.) My latest addition in regards to technology has been the purchase of 19 iPod Touches through funds that were donated.
Almost all of my knowledge on how to integrate technology into my lessons has come from three sources; I earned a master’s degree titled “Integrating Technology in the Classroom,” learning from colleagues, and experimentation. If I could only give one piece of advice to teachers wishing to use technology it would be to not be afraid to experiment. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to “break” technology by experimenting. Many times teachers are afraid that they are going to break something and don’t want to experiment.
As I continue to add to this blog I plan to share some of the things I have done in the past with a limited amount of technology and some of the things I am currently doing and plan to do in the future with the wider variety of technology I have now. If anyone is interested I would love to share any knowledge and/or lessons I have accumulated.
Addendum: (January 7, 2014)
I have moved on from my previous district and now teach in my hometown and home district. I am now teaching 8th and 9th Grade English Language Arts, but still implement the use of technology as much as possible. Currently I have almost unlimited access to an iPad card of 22 iPads. I have also become a one of the district leaders on the district technology committee.