Monday, July 1, 2013

Tech Savvy Teachers – 3 Steps to Take Now

Tech-savvy teacher

Today’s primary school students have grown up never knowing life without Google, the Internet and social networking. And they use technology naturally in every phase of their daily life. For teachers, this demands some new thinking and learning that will help you be more effective in teaching the tech savvy student.

To become a tech savvy teacher, doesn’t require a ton of new courses or tremendous understanding of computing technology. It’s more about creative thinking around how the technology provides value in the classroom. To that end, here are three ideas that teachers can use to become more tech savvy that don’t demand a ton of time or new technology expertise.

One of the largest discrepancies in technology use is the gulf between how teachers use and view their PC or tablet, and how the students do. I’m not suggesting that you become device obsessive like many kids, but rather, use some of the same tools. Use Facebook (with privacy and security controls in place!) or another social network, start to consume some media via Netflix on line or Pandora, and even try a few games. The goal here is to expand your own vision and horizons to see what they are seeing and to hopefully spur some new ideas for your class. Even using more than basic Google functionality is a good way to become more tech savvy.

One of the byproducts of using technology more like your students do is that you’ll see ways where their usage creates ideas for new assignments or tasks that can leverage their use of the technology. It’s not just about doing research on-line for a book report, but actually looking to make them more creative in their use of technology. One local teacher near my district had their 10th grade music class find a negative and a positive review of a recent chart topping record, and then explain why they thought these two credible sources had opposite perspectives. This made the students think about what they see on-line, and not just take it all as gospel. There are numerous other examples such as having kids design what app they think the world needs and why, or reading foreign news sites to discuss how they view US events differently.

One of the most amazing aspects of the internet, and a very attractive part of the student’s use, is that very interesting people are only a click away! And the ability to get interesting individuals to interact with your students via tools like Skype is easier than you think. For example, finding an animator from a recent hit movie who will spend 15 minutes with your class on Skype is not that hard. Of course the rich and famous often won’t respond, but those who work with or for them might. And it never hurts to ask. There are so many ways that someone involved in some aspect of your curriculum can add value that you can be really creative.

Clearly these three approaches don’t nearly cover all of the possibilities. In fact some of you are probably already doing some or all of them. The key is to use the technology to lower the barriers between teacher and student and to create even more “common language” among you.

View the original article here

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