Introducing Tech Better

Debbie TannenbaumBlog, Engage Better, Innovate Better, Lesson Plan Better, Manage Better, Reflect Better, Tech Better

TL;DR:

  • Educators went from using technology for everything in remote learning to using it less when they returned to face-to-face. As we return back to school, we need to be intentional about how we integrate technology back into our classrooms.
  • Learn 6 ways how to be intentional with the integration of technology. (1) Identify learning targets. (2) Notice where handles for learning are needed. (3) Check your tech toolbox. (4) Envision how the tech will enhance the lesson. (5) Add the tech tool for your lesson. (6) Take time to reflect on the tool’s impact.

Before we know it, the 2021-2022 school year will start. After surviving the past 8 months as educators, many of us face uncertainty. What will classrooms look like? What will happen with social distancing? Will we need to wear masks? Can my students work in groups? These questions could continue indefinitely. The chatter inside of my head is strong when it comes to the what-ifs as an educator.

As a tech coach specifically, I spent a lot of time thinking this summer about the role technology plays in education. Last year, many of us were virtual to start the year and used technology for EVERYTHING! As the year progressed and more schools pivoted to hybrid or concurrent instruction, there seemed to be an urgency not to use technology in many face-to-face settings. Neither of these two extremes are ideal as we go into this new school year.

During all of my conversations with educators in the past month, the same word continues to echo in my head over and over again: INTENTION.  When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we reacted with emergency distance learning. Last year, we made decisions out of necessity because of limited options available. But now, we are entering a new phase—INTENTION.

What do I mean by INTENTION? We need to plan how we integrate technology with purpose. Why are we using the technology inside of our classrooms? Are we using it because it is there? Are we using it because we think we have to? Or are we planning it with INTENT?

When we plan with intent, tech tools have purpose in their integration. Take the time to see if the tool helped your students. Click To Tweet

To transform learning, we need to plan with INTENT.

Tech Better Tip #1: Identify learning targets.

We start by identifying our learning targets. What do we want our students to learn? Too often, we rush to using a technology tool without starting with the learning target.

Tech Better Tip #2: Notice where handles for learning are needed.

As we consider the lesson goals, are there places where students need support holding on to their learning? Do we need to offer students more voice and choice in demonstrating the targets? Do we need to consider Universal Design for Learning in the lesson?  Are students creating or consuming?

Tech Better Tip #3: Check your tech toolbox.

Check your technology toolbox (the tools you regularly use) to see if a technology tool might be able to help. Not sure? Ask a colleague or a tech coach. (You can always check with me.)

Tech Better Tip #4: Envision how the tech will enhance the lesson.

Next, determine how the technology will enhance the lesson. In my book, TRANSFORM-Techy Notes to Make Learning Sticky, I share how the technology should offer students opportunities that they would not have without the tech. Is this tool accomplishing that purpose? If not, it might be the wrong match.

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Tech Better Tip #5: Now add the tech tool to the lesson.

We don’t add the tech tool until almost the end. Teach the lesson with the tech tool integrated. Pay close attention to how it affects student learning and whether it amplifies it.

Tech Better Tip #6: Take time to reflect on the tool’s impact.

This is so important. When we plan with intent, tech tools have purpose in their integration. Take the time to see if the tool helped your students. If it did, keep it and reflect on how it helped them. If not, don’t use technology for technology’s sake.

You’re Invited…

Over the course of this year, I am honored to share a monthly blog series called Tech Better. Today by reading this post, you began the journey. You are an educator that wants to “Tech Better”. You are an educator that will “tech with intent!”

Each month, I look forward to adding tips and strategies that will help you along this journey. This is not work we can do alone—this is work that we need to engage in together. So let’s commit to this journey! Let’s “Tech Better”!

 

 


About Debbie Tannenbaum

Debbie Tannenbaum is an Elementary School Technology Specialist in Fairfax County, VA. An educator with over twenty years of experience, Mrs. Tannenbaum is completing her second year in this role, where she supports both staff and students to integrate technology tools into instruction through both co-teaching sessions and weekly technology classes. Mrs. Tannenbaum is also an avid blogger and shares her thoughts and reflections on her website: Techy Notes. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram at @TannenbaumTech.