Not Too Much: Slowly Approaching the 21st Century Classroom

Moodle, Google Docs, Glogster, Edmodo, WordPress, Blogger, Vimeo, Diigo, and Wikis. Are you out of breath yet? If your not, you are one of the 21st century educators who are implementing digital tools into their classrooms. If you are just laying foot to path and beginning your journey into all of the wonderful digital tools that have the potential to transform your classroom, the choices can be a bit overwhelming. This is just one of the many thoughts I had yesterday attending the pre-conference sessions at MACUL. As I sat through a moodle and a web publishing session, I began to wonder what my prospective would have been if I was new to all of this. Rocking in the corner with my arms wrapped around my legs came to mind. It wasn’t that long ago when I went through the summer writing institute and our director Troy Hicks gave us a plethora of digital tools to use. There were days I had anxiety, but everything in the end worked out. I get excited about challenges and persevered through it all. I honestly believe teachers can transform their classrooms into 21st century portals where the students can once again be excited about learning.

So, how do you begin with this barrage of digital tools being thrown at you? First, simply start by picking just one tool to implement into your classroom. A great colleague of mine Kevin Hodgson commented to me about students and technology users alike are leaving “digital debris”, meaning we try new things out and think it is great, but then we never use that tool again. Students and users have created accounts, used it one time, then never go back. I know I am guilty of doing this very thing this year with Edmodo. By choosing just one tool, you can use it over and over during the school year. Essentially, by the end of the year, your students and you will be become an expert on that tool. Furthermore, you as the leader in the classroom, won’t feel so overwhelmed. Then, the following year you can stretch your zone again and try something new.

Next, after you have chosen the digital tool you want to implement, ask yourself two questions. First, why am I using this in my classroom? Second, why is this tool valuable to my students? The first question was an eye opener for me. I have to thank Troy Hicks again for pushing me in this thinking. Now, I am passing it on to you. Simply using a digital tool because it looks fun or the students like it, aren’t the most important issues here. Some tools are geared towards a language arts classroom, where another one might be more science oriented. In addition, some schools may not have up-to-date technology capabilities that support the tool you want to use. More importantly, with increased rigor and higher order thinking wrapped around the Common Core, it is essential to stop and think about how the tools we are using are helping to develop these very traits within our students.

I leave you with the the advice to go slow, find what is easy and works well for you and your students. We all have to shift our learning styles and our minds to the 21st century and how our classrooms are going to look.

Cheers!

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4 Comments on “Not Too Much: Slowly Approaching the 21st Century Classroom”

  1. Not only is it overwhelming to teachers, but it can be overwhelming to students, too. I teach quite a few students who are scared of using computer technology. I’ve had much better luck when I followed your advice to focus on just one tool and mastering it before moving on to something else.

  2. mdprier says:

    I like the idea of digital debris in that there are educators who go to a PD session and find something fun and intriguing, but never claim it as their own. I understand the need for trying things to see if it works, but my philosophy is to try something one, and if I do not like it, try is a second time to make sure. It is difficult enough to wade through the sea of digital opportunities as they are abundant as baby rabbits. Taking ownership of those digital tools and using them in a classroom with reap rewards. There is no better feeling than when a student asks me, “Mr. Prier, do you know about ________ digital tool?” They have immigrated and become natives.

  3. I am on Edmodo and it’s a good way for teachers to share and communicate. My kindergarten students just started blogging on KidBlog.org. on their iPads. It’s pretty exciting to see them excited about writing.


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