Mrs. Christensen Has Entered the Building

Seven months ago, I left the classroom to venture into a new “field.” I shifted from the high school English classroom to the Educational Technology Department. I’ll be honest with you: the entire time I was there, I had this feeling of floating in space. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the career change I had made. However, despite the alien world I was in, I was able to learn  many new skills and, more importantly, a new mindset for technology in the classroom. So, here it is, August 25, and the first week of school is almost over.The strange feelings I’ve had since leaving the classroom are still floating along with me since returning because honestly, what I want to do this year is something I’ve never done. But as those feelings slowly dissipate, I am challenged by the one question I keep asking my students: if you can Google search pretty much anything, why do you need a teacher?

This is such a relevant question in the midst of all this technology talk, but it is one that I don’t have a solid answer to yet. IF we have the internet, and IF students actually start to use their resources to teach themselves, then what do I do? No one is really talking about that yet. All we are discussing is which tool and what website. So, I want to start the conversation. If there are an endless number of resources out there, what IS my job? What is OUR job?

Please don’t say babysitter, or record keeper, or …. disciplinarian.

What now?

So, you have the “device” and you have the go-ahead. What’s next? Your students sometimes have access but not always, and yet somehow you are supposed to integrate technology. How and how often? And what does that even mean, integrate?

I will tell you!

Integrating technology is a process, so it really can’t have a static definition… just like a website. It is always changing since it is always evolving as the technology itself is evolving. In fact, let this blog be symbolic of the process of integration. It too will develop and change as fun tools surface and disappear. Sometimes it will be layered, and sometimes it will be simple and straightforward. Bottom line: whatever it is today is ok because tomorrow it can be totally different or similarly the same. You choose!

So where to start? If you are a super beginner, pick one tool that sounds fun for you and for your students and learn it. Get good at it. Find video tutorials to help you instead of waiting on the helpdesk or your edTech. Then, integrate it however you think it might fit for you. This is just the beginning of innovation, which is the real long term goal of integration. If you are comfortable with the tools you are already using, pick one and look for videos or lessons on the internet that are using that tool. Find other educators out there who may be using the tool differently. Your job is to expand the tool, not just use it!

Here is an example/idea for you:

Kahoot is so hot right now. Kahoot is a trivia style game that allows teachers to make their own quizzes which students can play. The game ranks students by speed and accuracy. After every question, it shows how the group did on each answer choice as well as shows a top 5 for each round. In order to play, the players need a second device be it iPad, tablet, laptop, or smartphone. They just need access to the web. The game questions display through a Promethean Board while the students answer on their device. Super fun! Obviously, there are other details about how to play the game, but it is up to you to discover it when you try it out!

Super Beginners: Learn to use Kahoot! Practice creating quizzes (hint: use quizzes you’ve already made, just transfer them to Kahoot). Get students comfortable with the game so they know how to play. Once they know, they will look forward to a Kahoot lesson!

Already Knowers: So you’ve used Kahoot before? No big deal, eh? Well have you used it for Discussions and Surveys? These are alternatives to the quiz option. Look at how it works by making a sample, then imagine how it might be useful to you and TRY IT! Have you used the public Kahoot quizzes to help you out? Search for topics you are interested in. Find one you want; then edit it to make it exactly what you want!

INNOVATORS: You have already OWNED Kahoot? Well, what else can you do with it? How can you use Kahoot for learning new content instead of for formative assessment? How can you teach vocabulary with it? Does a quiz have to be treated like a quiz? Can you take a grade with it? Have you let students take charge yet? They can make their own accounts you know! It’s free! How COULD students OWN Kahoot as well as you have? Have you asked the students themselves? What do they want to do with it?

Don’t just play Kahoot. Learn with Kahoot.