Friday, December 4, 2009

Null & Void

NullAccording to Merriam Webster, it means amounting to nothing or having no value.

Void – Merriam Webster says void refers to anything that is not inhabited, contains nothing or is without something specified.

How does THIS relate to technology you ask? Simple. If your use of technology in your classroom is not directly tied to curriculum… it should be considered null and void.

Instructional technology is one specific area of technology that is sometimes squeezed into a box. But, on the contrary, it far exceeds any limitations that can be placed upon it and the value it holds for our students and teachers alike. Actually sitting down to “plan” the implementation of technology into the daily curriculums in our schools is (and should be) goal-oriented, copious, and even a bit circumstantial. What is my mission in this industry… to bridge the gap between those who see technology as a “thing” and those who see it as a resource with educational benefits beyond our imaginations. How do we accomplish this? Easily. With a plan.

So… you’ve actively participated in a workshop, or two, or seven that we’ve offered within our visits to your school. But, what’s next?

Start small….

  • Identify a (that is just one for starters) lesson that you really, really like teaching.
  • Take some time to mull over how you assess what the students have learned at the very end of the assignment
  • Now… from that assessment, slide some type of technology application or resource into the final project and envision what that assignment would be like if they “turned it in” differently – using technology
  • You should still be able to assess their learning levels – but – you should also notice a difference in their project engagement, overall assignment creativity, and a different learning perspective encountered.

What exactly does turning in assignments “differently” refer to? Here is a classic example…

Say you have assigned a research paper. The students are expected to pair off into groups of two, to do the research, write and/or type the paper and then turn it in. If time allows, you might even have them stand in front of the class the day the assignment is due to give a verbal recap.

Here is the 21st Century Skills scenario #1. The students are expected to do the research, type the contents of the paper into a PBWorks wiki, where they can also add copyrighted images and a video. Now, not only does the “paper” come to you… it is there for the feedback from their peers in the form of comments, as well. Indirectly speaking, you are teaching the basic goal/overall objective for the research paper, but you have also added in 21st century skills with keyboarding, digital citizenship, digital etiquette and online collaboration since the students were working in paired groups. How do you determine who did the most work? Easily…. With a wiki, revision histories are captured allowing you to see every time a student logs in and specifically what their contribution was. Did the public speaking portion get lost? Not at all. The day the projects are due, you can still have the students address the class, but… now they have visuals and talking points to go along with it. Want parents involved? Give out the wiki address and let them marvel at their student’s writing skills and use of technology in the classroom.

Here is the 21st Century Skills scenario #2. Assigned yet another research paper? No problem! This time, the students take their finished paper along with copyrighted images they found and upload them into Microsoft Photo Story. In addition to the photos that visually tell the story of the paper, the students record their voice to do a narrative (straight from the paper they’ve written). Adding music to the background and saving it as a Windows Media Player file makes it a finished digital product.

So, at the end of the day – your assignment was still a research paper – but I am quite sure the lasting impact and impression from the finished project will go much further than just two pages of research typed and printed.

Just as passionate as I am about the direct integration of technology into daily curriculums? Check out these sites for further perspective and examples.

Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?

Technology Integration Made Easy

Make sure your use of technology in the class is for a specific purpose – and far from being null and void. If your choice of classroom technology is tied specifically to a SCOS goal and objective… you are on your way to technological success within your daily instruction! Need a beginning point? Find unit/lesson plans in our Learning Village Curriculum Warehouse.

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