It’s 2013...I have to say I really realized that the other day when I was signing a car loan. The finance manager said, "when the car is yours in 2019..." "2019," I thought. That’s right, it’s 2013 and I’m financing for 6 years. 2020 is only 7 years away. Why the fixation on the year? Because it’s here. In 6 years, my daughter will be in middle school and the devices we use now and consider innovative will be considered old. We’ll have different laptops and different phones by then.
Did you know the Apple App store just celebrated it’s 5th birthday. It didn’t exist 5 years ago. That app you have at your fingertips and open 10 times a day, it wasn’t on your phone 5 years ago. There will be a lot of new technology births in the next 5 or 6 years. You and your students can learn anything with help of technology? Are students passionate about what they learn, are they creating with the same kind of tools they might have in their homes? If they don’t have the technology in their homes, are we giving them the opportunity to utilize them in the classroom? Are we preparing them for their future, for now, not they way things use to be.
I felt sad a few yeas ago when I heard an innovative speaker who quoted a student that said, “Whenever I go into class, I have to power down." This was quoted back in 2007, a student said that 6 years ago. I just want you to think about it? I keep hearing of this popular video game, Assassins Creed, people play the video game for fun and while they play they learn about the history of our country better than I ever did in the classroom because they are apart of solving the problem. We should model a love for learning, inquire with our students, and help them really understand why the concept is so important. We should encourage creativity and show students that they can be the best that they can be now, because it’ll be 2020, 2030 in no time. School shouldn’t be that time to "power down.”
I want to share my beginning with you. It’s more like my confession. It was my first of teaching, back in 2002. I had an IBM desktop in my classroom. I didn’t use it and neither did my students. I averaged all of my grades with a calculator, twice, it took hours. If I left my gradebook at school, I couldn’t catch up at home and I lost time. I wrote out every single progress report for my students. I didn’t even know how to connect the wires on my computer. I was scared I would break something and sparks would fly from the wall.
My campus had a computer lab and I walked my class there once a week. During our time, I did what everyone else did. I let my students play games. Games that didn’t add value to the concepts they were currently learning in class. I didn’t know any better. I didn't know there were Technology Application TEKS (adopted in 1998). I didn't know about the National Technology Standards. How did I miss that? I thought that was what we were suppose to do in the computer lab. :(
The point is, 11 years later, when I look into computer labs, I still see me, 11 years ago. My confession is that I didn’t get it. I didn't understand the value of technology in education because I wasn't taught with it and I certainly didn't grow up with all of it.
As I was in the classroom, I had a few AH HA moments. My students liked it when I brought my digital camera to school, they liked to take the pictures during our science labs, they liked to write the captions for the pictures they took. They liked to record themselves singing and reading. This was my start.
One day I heard I could win a trip to a conference, ISTE. I didn’t know what it was. All I knew was I could win a free trip. I had to try to use the BNI Video Conference Cart on my school and connect with another class and I was entered to win. It was a rough year, personally. I needed a trip. I found the BNI cart at my school and called my closest science teacher friends from around the district. Our students presented and we covered our Science TEKS. The students loved it and learned so much from each other. I continued to connect with those teachers the rest of the years I was in the classroom.
The following year, while I was still in the classroom, I had heard about this thing called the SMART Board. I asked if I could have one. Then I needed a projector. There were no SMART Trainings yet. I couldn’t wait for someone to teach me. I didn't understand YouTube as a learning tool. I had to look at the wires and figure out where they went and find the software. I learned on the job. Slowly I began to see it all around me. I knew why and how technology could be used in my classroom. When we collected data we would take the opportunity to make a graph using excel in the computer lab. It was slow but progressive.
Mostly, I wanted you to know that I didn’t grow up with a computer in my home. I wasn't born with all of the answers and knowledge. My drive to use technology in the classroom was fueled by my students. I still remember the month we were hitting it hard, preparing for the Writing TAKS. The students asked me why we weren’t using the SMART Board. The truth is, I didn't really know how to use it in writing.
I want to share what helped me begin.
1. Build a Professional Learning Network. Add educators, community members, amazing students that you can pull from, ask questions, and learn from. Your network could be on Twitter, Facebook, or ProjectShare.
2. Ask Questions. I asked so many questions while I was trying to learn. I must have annoyed a few people. I learned who would teach me and who would shut the door in my face.
3. Share. Be a cheerleader for what you are doing. Share what works and what doesn't work.
4. Shake off the Fear. Think like a 5 year old. Look at the icons, buttons, tabs and then press them to see what they do. It is better to wear out a piece of technology than to see it sat in the closet for 6 years because someone was afraid to break it.
I ended up winning that tip to ISTE and learned a lot. Where to begin? Be a life long learner. Challenge yourself to give your students opportunities to learn and even teach you a few things.