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Monday, January 18, 2010

Welcoming Technology



I recently read an article by Peter Frank (available at http://www.nea.org/) in which he articulates his mission statement
as a teacher: "It is my responsibility to positively promote education; to spark the 'enthusiasm to learn' within each student; and to provide the foundation for insight, knowledge, discernment, and wisdom
within individuals as they become lifelong learners. Developing these skills is essential for the growth, prosperity, and conscientious decision making necessary for our society" (p.1).

In other words, in order to produce wise and effective future citizens, we must motivate our students and teach them to think critically and compassionately. My students are certainly motivated by the use of cool technology tools that allow them to learn more, better, and faster. Tools like blogging and email can encourage positive connections and communication for learning. Access to so much information on the Internet can help students learn to find and evaluate reliable sources, and to attain deep knowledge and understanding of topics they study.

Of course, I have no choice but to welcome technology in the classroom if I am to prepare students for the future, or even the realities of today. At first I was mostly annoyed by the invasion of technology because I find myself having conversations with people as they look down and text at the same time, and I find myself expected to have and answer my cell phone at all times. I find students using "u" to write "you" when answering short answer questions on my English exam.

My perspective is changing for the better, though, as I learn to view technology as a set of useful tools I can master, rather than something I am incompetent in. I still think we are becoming lazy about our writing, and please don't text while I'm speaking to you; but I know I can turn the ability to write and publish so easily into a good thing, and the ability to text into a productive learning tool for my students! Just as, since the standards movement, we keep learning standards in mind as we design our lesson plans, and just as, since the popularity of the rubric, we design assessments and communicate using rubrics, educators will adapt to incorporate technology into our curriculum, instruction, and assessment regularly.

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