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Alabama, United States
Educator and Lifelong Learner, Asst Principal at @cmslions, #NBCT, #EdD from @ucumberlands, @Google Educator Lvl 1 & 2, Google for Education Certified Trainer

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day: Tips on Integrating Technology into Your Classroom

"Rome wasn't built in a day" and neither is your technology integrated classroom!

My classroom is a technology infused space for my 4th graders to grow and learn. Here are a few tips that will help you integrate technology into your classroom.

1)Embrace the technology movement. We live in a society that revolves around technology. This is obvious from the Christmas gifts bought and received this year. I purchased a Kindle, Wii, iPod, USB turntable, DVD player, etc. My students received iPads, Kindle Fires, Kindles, iPod Touches, and cell phones. (I know this from our interaction on Edmodo.) Since we are all surrounded with cool pieces of technology, embrace them and use them.

2)Start small. You have someone in your school who is a tech guru. Don't try to be that person overnight. Take small steps, and it will all fall into place. Begin by using a favorite website (i.e. VocabuarlySpellingCity) with your students during literacy centers. Browse Pete's PowerPoint Station for presentations that correlate with your lessons. Download interactive whiteboard lessons from Promethean Planet or Smart Exchange. Allow your students to create some sort of web based projects (i.e. ToonDoo, Voki, Glogster, etc.) over the course of several weeks. You will find ideas on my Livebinder, Integrating Technology into the Language Arts Classroom, that can be used in any curriculum area. 

3)Don't be afraid to ask. If you see a colleague doing something you would like to try in their classroom, ask questions. No one has ever refused to answer my questions. Email those people that are doing things you would like to try. Tweet your questions. 

4)Get involved in a PLN (Personal Learning Network). Create a Twitter account, and get involved in educational discussions. You will find more tools than you will ever use from teachers who have used them effectively in their classroom. Find those "Twitter Stars," follow them, and follow the ones they follow. My Twitter handle is @WhiteheadsClass. Create a Diigo account to bookmark your favorite sites. Join Edmodo. Not only is it great for classroom use, but it is a fantastic professional tool. You will network with teachers across the world where you can ask and answer questions, find new tools, and share ideas.

5)Use what you have. The biggest complaint that I hear about integrating technology into the classroom is that they don't have the tools or the time. Let me tell you, my classroom is severely lacking in tools, but I make do with what I have. I am lucky enough to have a Promethean ActivBoard mounted in my classroom, but other than that, I have 2 desktop computers-one is a 2005 model with 256 MB of RAM, and the other is a donated computer that is probably about that old (I'm not real sure about its specifics). I have a couple of Flip Cameras, a digital camera, a USB mic, and a webcam. That constitutes our tools. We don't have a scheduled time to go to the lab and work as a class. 10 minutes a week in the lab is max! But, we take advantage of every minute we have. Step foot into my classroom, and you will see students on the computers creating, researching, and learning. Every student in my classroom is given an opportunity to use the computers everyday. They may have to partner up, but they get their chance.  I scheduled 15 minute intervals during our literacy centers for the students to work of the students choose to work on their projects at home because they want to do it. (I don't require them to work at home because several of my students don't have Internet access at home.) Don't make excuses. Make a schedule

6)Share your students' creations. Everyone wants to be complimented on the hard work they do. Take time to email your students projects to their parents. Post them on your class website. Tweet them. Share them on Facebook

Thank you for taking time to read this post. I hope you have found something that has motivated your to integrate technology into your classroom. Please feel free to share your tips with my readers. We are all in this together!



Shannon said...

I am wanting to integrate technology into my 6th grade room and I have a question for you. I want my kids to discuss books online and write little book reviews-what site do you recommend that is user friendly?


Cara Whitehead said...

Hey, Shannon! Thank you for reading this post. I would recommend either Edmodo or Kidblog. Edmodo is a Facebook type platform but you can create a closed group for only your class. Students can easily respond to each other. I also like Kidblog which is an easy to use blog where your students can comment to each other's posts. I use both in my classroom.

Shannon said...

I think I might go with kid blog. Now I've got to get cables for my 3computers in my room. They are on order right now! Haven't had working computers all year! Sigh. :)

Mark Thompson said...

Thought you might like benefit of my experience in UK - was farmer of 20+ years when self-taught myself computers to do farm accounts etc. 10 years ago became a science teacher found when started was a lot of technophobia in teaching here in UK, Better now but still much resistance to both IT and 'new' things.

I am trying to get our website used in schools. It provides a short fortnightly video of farming and countryside so teachers can educate pupils on seasonality of countryside and food production. When showing teachers it in person they say it's great but still dont use it in classroom!!!

I think people are either 'into' IT or not, many of those not are frightened of it - still scared they will loose or break something!

I have always said IT will really take off once people who have grown up with it are in top jobs - eg teachers! Then just you wait!!

If you can think of a way to overcome this 'resistance' then please let me know. I am also thinking of using Twitter to follow some cows up to calving so class can follow this day by day then hopefully see film of calf being born - but again don't know how to get teachers to use such 'scary' technology!!!

Sorry this comment is a bit long winded - but it is nice to find like minded people to sound off and exchange ideas with...

Jan Wells said...

Cara, great post and soooo so true on #5.

Patti White said...

Your post on technology is great. I am always looking for ways to integrate technology in my classroom and I am so happy that we now have up-to-date computers, projectors, and Elmos, but still wanting more (like a smart board). But just like you said, "Use what you have!"

I am also your newest follower and would love for you to visit my blog!


~Stephanie said...

These are great ideas and words of advice. #6 is especially interesting. I have a class website, but emailing the parents directly might be a great thing to do!

Your newest follower,
Teaching in Room 6

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