Baby Steps

I recently attended a technology workshop for teachers where a number of online tools were introduced. The teachers left inspired and definitely overwhelmed.

My role at the workshop was to help out where needed – help teachers get places, troubleshoot, etc. I was surprised that I spent the first hour or so of the workshop helping with really basic things: how to send a text message, the concept of different browsers (IE, Chrome, Firefox,) and how to get on the wireless connection.

It does highlight – loudly – the real need for professional development time for teachers. They have too much on their plates to spend time getting comfortable with technology. And yes, it is essential that teachers become more comfortable with technology. It just isn’t an option for them to ignore technology.

Perhaps baby steps are one way to get started. A recent posting in Edutopia by Heather Wolpert-Gawron, Twenty Everyday Ways to Model Technology Use for Students, offers some great ways to take those first baby steps. Read the whole post, but here are some of the easiest ways any teacher, regardless of comfort level, could get started:

  • Post a list of norms for online and offline behavior
    There are great resources for this type of list, or talk to the school media specialist. They should have access to good lists. Common sense is a great resource. Include things like never give a real name, never give your phone number or address, and never put anything online that you wouldn’t want the whole world to see.
  • Create a “tech crew” of students
    We all know that some students are far more comfortable with technology than teachers. Take advantage of this, and give those students a chance to get you set up for the day with whatever technology you’re going to use. Or, take it a step further and ask students for ideas of what to do!
  • Be transparent with your Google searches
    Research is showing that students are not able to perform good searches or make decisions about valid sources. Model this for them. If you’ll be using some sources in your teaching, show the students how you found it. Do the whole search in front of the class. Talk about how you phrased the search terms and why you didn’t always just pick the first thing that came up.
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