Teaching with Technology

One of my favorite teacher bloggers, Mr. Coward, is one of my mentors, even if he doesn’t know it.  I’ve been following his blog since my second year of teaching, which was my first year teaching middle school.  Since the middle school animal is quite a different breed from the high school animal, I turned to the internet for help, as any good first wave Millennial will do…  And I ran across his awesome Seventh Grade blog, and have been along for the ride ever since.

Since the late 90’s, Mr. C has posted student classwork and homework on the web, he was the first teacher I knew to use Wikis in the classroom, and he had “Clickers” before I even knew what those were.  That same year, I got my first SmartBoard, and have been a self-proclaimed TeachingTechJunkie ever since.  What I’ve found, after working in two different states and three different school districts, is that there is still a fear of technology in many secondary classrooms.  Even young teachers.

My own high school career was low tech, but I was on the Internet at home in 9th grade, so I felt I was pretty tech-savvy going into the classroom.  It’s turned out to be one of the easiest ways to motivate kids.  A math lesson is just a math lesson, until you watch a few Khan Academy videos or play a few math games on the iPad.  Poetry is fine, but watching Rives or an episode of HBO’s Brave New Voices on YouTube makes it even more fun.

A previous post I wrote, School 2.0, lists a lot of suggestions for how to engage students through technology in an English class, but we teachers should also think about how much easier our jobs can be when we use technology.  Peer-to-peer file sharing software like Dropbox can help you organize and share lesson plans with other teachers in your district.  Evernote is where I store all of my lesson plan notes and attach documents for assignments, because I can access it from any computer, my iPad, or even my phone.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been sitting at the doctor’s office or in traffic and had a thought for a lesson that I wanted to write down.  The smartphone has changed my life.  The Cloud is like icing on the cake.  And e-books – oh how I love thee… (seriously, my husband gets jealous of my Kindle).

The iPad by itself is revolutionizing education.  In my dreams of the future, every student will be issued one that includes all the e-books they might need, as well as access to the Web, Apps, iTunesU, and the world is at their fingertips.  I’ve heard of some private schools in my area requiring parents buy their children an iPad, but it will be a while before we get to the point where every student will have one.  At the moment, however, we’ll go on buying heavy textbooks, updating computer labs, and sending kids home with backpacks full of notebooks, pens, and binders… when one $400 iPad could change all of that.

Sigh. Maybe someday.
What do you think, parents?  Would you buy your child an iPad if his/her school required it?  Would it cost taxpayers less if we issued one instead of buying textbooks and providing computer labs?

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