I’ve never been one to search out the latest and greatest in technological gadgets. In fact, I was kinda always proud of the fact that I hadn’t submitted to the allure and addictions of the technology savvy world. That is until this school year. Interestingly enough, I find myself part of a BYOD cohort tasked with the challenge of bringing 21st century skills and tools to our school. And oddly enough, I don’t feel like I’ve lost anything in terms of the art of teaching. And, I even think that the technology I have implemented is teaching my students to become more responsible and more socially respectful- how in the world???
Well, let me take a step back to the very beginning of my internship… all the way back to our professional development over the summer. It was there in the mountains of NC, that I started to really desire to “up” my technology game. Because all of a sudden, the games and programs that were presented had a purpose- a purpose to make my students into better students and better members of society. I thought, “How could a computer or a phone possibly increase communication and increase student participation?” Then, all of a sudden I was rather overwhelmed at the amount of programs and strategies and games and resources and apps that I had never heard of. I nodded my head as people presented in an attempt to hide my lack of knowledge. I was excited and scared about all I had to implement. But, I’ve realized something in these first few months of school. I will never know it all. Wow. What a relief. And, that’s not my job anyway.
My job will always be to teach students- no matter the tools that come my way. So, I picked a few tools, and there is one that has really changed the way I teach. It’s call backchannel chat. Essentially this website is a simple online chat room, but it has changed the way I do classroom discussions. This technology tool has aided me in class participation and also has helped my students to gain confidence in communicating with classmates. AND, I still have to teach them valuable communication skills about listening and providing meaningful comments because there is still a level of respect that is needed while communicating in the chat room. Students are also given plenty of “think time” so that they can write more meaningful comments to questions. It’s these discussions that really push students into the highest levels of thinking and creativity. And, I know that soon this tool might be replaced with the “latest and greatest,” but I already learned the secret of these Tech Tools- it’s still about the students and whatever helps them to learn to become a responsible citizen, that is the tool for me!