One of the greatest gifts of teaching (aside from impacting lives, I know, I know…) is summer break. And it is quite a gift. During the school year, the job is a non-stop, all consuming, emotional roller coaster ride of thrilling highs and jolting lows.
But I wouldn’t have it any other way. And I wouldn’t want to do anything else.
So I always grab the gift of summer to rest, spend time with family, hopefully go on a trip, and to work on my craft (teaching, not Netflix, though sometimes it may seem like it’s the latter).
If I spend year after year doing the same thing in my classroom, I feel like I’ve wasted the summer. One of the greatest gifts of this time (aside from the family thing) is that it’s a chance to grow professionally–to learn new things–to work on our craft as teachers.
This summer, I’m sharing my professional development with you, my colleagues, and I hope you will do the same with me, whether it’s in the comments here, on Facebook, or by email.
I asked what you wanted to learn more about professionally this summer, and I decided to focus my own development around those things.
These were your top responses–edtech, brain-based learning, coaching and mentoring, and social studies instruction. So, based on your feedback, here’s the plan for my summer professional development blog series (and by the way–the underlying theme for everything will be tech, as more and more of us will be taking the 1:1 leap in the fall, and coaching other teachers through the process):
1. Infusing Tech One Lesson at a Time A method for integrating technology mindfully without completely overwhelming yourself
2. Easy Tools to Techify Your Class Simple and free/cheap tools that will make teaching with technology pay off
3. Turn Your Vacation into a Lesson Using that trip you took this summer as part of an engaging, techified lesson
4. The Brain Benefits of Gamifying Why gamifying your classroom can help students learn and a model for implementing
So, here is my first Summer Professional Development Blog Post:
Infusing Tech One Lesson at a Time
Creating lessons is just one part of a teacher’s job, but it’s a huge job. Planning the same way we always have can take up an enormous part of our time, so being asked to integrate technology into our lessons (especially if we’re not sure where to begin) can be overwhelming to say the least.
That’s why we should do it mindfully–with a plan, and not just for the sake of adding technology. A framework for doing this can help us get started.
Dr. Ruben Puentedura has offered a useful framework for educators with his SAMR Model. The model is helpful in guiding us through integrating technology, but first we have to understand how to use it.
I want to take us through the steps as simply as I know how by both explaining the framework and going through the steps with one of my own lessons. I’m going to use a lesson that I’m working on right now. It’s from my next pen and paper sociology interactive notebook.
I generally create the paper-based lessons first because that’s how I think, and then I go back and look for areas that would particularly benefit from the addition of technology to blend.
Here is my simplified version of the SAMR Model:
I think of SAMR as a staircase. The first step is to simply incorporate technology, but as we progress upward, we are actually using technology to transform our lessons into an experience that couldn’t be had without tech.
Step 1: Ask Yourself the Questions
Step 2: Substitution
My next step will be to incorporate technology through substitution. I can take my lecture, and condense it into a brief film. The film will be linked to a Google Slides activity that will do away with the Foldable Graphic Organizer and the copying, cutting, and pasting.
So the point of the substitution here will be to save time and resources on copying and manipulating paper products and to make the lesson more student focused by eliminating the lengthy lecture. Here are before and after pics:
As you can see, students completed the same task they would have before adding tech, but we saved paper and time by substituting technology. Of course, by adding URLs, I did cross over into augmentation just a bit, but this is basically pure substitution.
Step 3: Augmentation
Now, I’ll refer back to my answers in step one and find the ideal place for augmentation, that is, enhancing with tech what I was doing before. The ideal place for this is with formative assessment.
I decided what students needed for formative assessment is immediate feedback. I love exit tickets, but I usually don’t return them to the students until the next day. I can remedy that by turning my exit ticket into an exit quiz, and placing it on a self-grading Google Form, so that it will look like this:
Here is a link to a blog post about how to use the self-grading quiz feature in Google Forms in case you’s like to augment your quizzes. 🙂
Step 4: Modification
With this step, we delve a bit deeper into tech infusion. We’re taking something we were doing before, in this case, my Types of Societies Mini-Book, and we’re redesigning it so that the new product must be created using technology.
In this case, I used a website called mindmup.com to create a digital Types of Societies Mind Map. Here’s the before and after:
Students could feasibly create this by hand, but they wouldn’t have the resources of the web or the power to digitally share.
Step 5: Redefinition
Redefinition is at the top of that golden stairway to technology heaven–the ultimate goal–the purpose of which is to redefine teaching and learning by implementing tasks that would not be possible without technology.
In the “Before” scenario, we are more than likely modifying because students will probably use the web to research their careers and presentation software to compile their presentations; however, in the absence of technology, they could research using books in the library and present by writing a paper or creating a poster or the like.
But the “After” scenario is redefinition because in the absence of technology students would not be able to reach out to and interview face-to-face via Hangouts or Skype employees from all over the world in their chosen careers.
SAMR is a useful model for incorporating technology into your lessons. Many of us have no idea where to begin and SAMR enables us to start on the ground floor and work our way up the stairs at our own pace.
I would add that even though redefinition is the ultimate goal, no matter how adept at infusing the tech we may become, we should never discount the bottom stair, nor even the ground floor.
There will always be times when substitution is appropriate or even just good old fashioned pen and paper work. Technology has opened so many possibilities in education, and we should not discount it. But we should not discount more traditional methods, as well, when they, too, are appropriate.
How have you infused your lessons with tech? How do you plan to in the upcoming year? Leave a comment below, and let me know. And don’t forget to check out “Easy Tools to Techify Your Class” here next week!
As we embark on a year of uncertainty, we must consider equity and distance learning. This post discusses how to make virtual learning more equitable in 3 steps and comes with a downloadable cheat sheet.
Do you feel like you’re teaching in uncertain times? You’re not alone. But there are certain things that will always be certain. Like–your students need you to be there for them. Click through to find out how to do that with Culturally Responsive Teaching in Any Setting.
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