What is you ROI? #ISTE17

I just left #ISTE17. If you have ever been, you know it is an overwhelming, if you haven’t then just trust me, it is. The crowds (20,000 educators this year!), the expo hall, the sessions, and the wonderful people, all take a lot out of you. In the past I have posted about all the new technology tools found in the expo hall, in 2010 about how ridiculous it is unless you change your thinking and the learning in your classroom and last year posted about how we have some of the most powerful tech that can change the lives of students today and we need to use them.

When walking through the expo hall we need to not get sucked into the pretty but look for ways these tools will benefit our students. I love this tweet from Will Richardson saying these are the two questions to ask when we talk to vendors on the expo floor.

Awesome, right? But I think we don’t need to only ask when we are on talking to vendors or buying certain technology. I think we need to ask this every time we spend money in a classroom. I read these statistics last year before school started on the amount of their own money teachers spend for their classroom and supplies every year. An average of $500. While I do not doubt that a lot of it is for crayons, pencils, etc, I am curious what exactly they are buying. I remember back to school was so expensive, then one year I realized I was spending it all on bulletin board border and decorations. While I wanted my room to look good, that was a little much and started stepping back over the years. I started asking myself if I was spending it for me or for my students. I started putting that money away and eventually bought another laptop for my classroom. Same with the money in my classroom account, I ended up with 7 laptops when I left the classroom. Four of which were bought with the money I saved.

In the business world there is a term called ROI, return on investment. For some reason cost effectiveness and ROI are not really pushed in the education world. But if you ask those questions from Will Richardson’s tweet before you buy or buy more of something you might have a different outlook. Some things that cost a lot might be worth it while others, not so much. I made this chart for my schools a little over a year ago for them to compare the costs of items they are buying. I hoped it would stop buying things that were expensive and only used by the teacher buy tech that can be put into more teacher’s hands. I later made this chart to show this visually.

But let’s look at this more closely. On the chart I started with $1000, the price many schools pay for a good quality document camera. Who usually uses it? The teacher, usually when giving notes, heck when I see them, it is usually for kids to copy a worksheet so they don’t have to make copies. For that same price, a teacher could get 5 Dash and Dot robotics kits or 4 Chromebooks. How would you rather teach math, using coding and spacial ideas with a robot or copying problems off the ELMO? The top complaints when I do tech PD with teachers is “I don’t have enough tech” or “I don’t enough money for tech.” But the school buys them ELMOs? I don’t understand.

Here is one more, for the cost of 1 interactive TV with stand (we use 2 different brands, the ViewSonic is around $2800 and Promethean is $3400), you could buy 14 Chromebooks or 2 3D printers, 2 laptops, and 2 Chromebooks or 3 TVs each with a Chromebox and wireless keyboard/mouse combo. While the TVs aren’t going to have students working on them like the others, you are servicing more teachers. How many teachers actually use the board interactively with students and how many use them as a $3000 projector. The cool of it isn’t worth the money if not used by students.


The point of all of this is that before we get sucked into the cool or pretty we need to ask ourselves if the products we are buying are actually being used by the kids for creating or if they are using it to just test. Is the item being used at all? That is a big question. If you get bored, go to Pinterest and search “classroom decorations” and see how much money is put into “learning space design” that is really just “Pinterest pretty.” We have too look at the ROI because when it comes down to it, our investment should be 100% student learning, everything else is just noise.   

Class Beyond the Four Walls

Today I got to show students that history is more than just stories in a text book but something that happened to real people as well as something that still effects us every day. I am from Birmingham, AL and was asked by my friend, Maria Galanis, from Deerfield Public School District 109 to share with students in David Komie’s about Kelly Ingram Park and the civil rights movement.

dog statue

My city’s history isn’t pretty. But walking around this park and seeing people of all races talking and kids playing is a reminder that changes can be made. I’m not naive enough to think that it’s perfect now but seeing Birmingham revive and become so diverse gives me hope that all the hate and conflict around our country will get better. It also reminds me that we need to learn from history and see how leaders have pushed for change effectively.

Video screen

Technology made this happen. That “Global Collaborator” ISTE standard and the “R” in SAMR is something we can do so easily with a little planning. No way students would be able to leave Chicago area just to walk around a park, but I got to take them there. Students no longer should be stuck inside the 4 walls of their classroom but should be given the opportunity to branch out and see the c world. Even if they never leave their desk. We have the tools to take them their, but we have to take the initiative. It is the least we can do.Talking to a computer

How To Encourage Girls on #internationalwomensday

Hey y’all! Hope your life isn’t as crazy busy as mine has been. I miss this space. I miss reflecting. I have so much in my head, just no chance to get it out. Today I feel caught up. Today is a good day, it’s International Women’s Day. A day we celebrate women and realize what a huge contribution they make on today’s society. We celebrate our female heroes. My heroes growing up were Sally Ride and Amelia Earhart. I read every book I could about them. It’s amazing I don’t have wings! 

Sally ride

I find it counterproductive, though, to celebrate women without taking the time to celebrate girls. One of the largest struggles women and girls face today is being put in a box. Girls are told what they are supposed to like, believe, look like, and careers that should choose. As educators, especially female educators, we should make a conscious effort not to do this. Here are some things women do that they probably don’t realize are harmful.

  • Openly diet. When teachers are constantly talking about what diet they are on, body shamming themselves, and skipping meals, it makes an impact on children. I’ve had my own child beg to go on a diet and refusing to eat meals because she wanted to be like the teacher she idolized. I remember wanting so bad to get nutri slim shakes growing up because that’s what the cool teachers had for lunch. When as a middle schooler I struggled with anorexia, I learned my habits from my teachers. 
  • Say that math is hard. Girls don’t have the support to try math career paths like boys do. Stereotypes are already telling them careers like doctors, engineers, and scientists are for white male nerds, they need strong women to show them that math can be done.
  • Focus on looks. Take a moment, or a day, and look at how many times you compliment girls vs boys on looks. While it does feel good to be complemented, make sure their worth isn’t just how they look or what they wear.
  • Ignore technology. Same as I said above with math, girls need that exposure before stereotypes are formed. I hear too many female teachers say daily that they don’t get technology (though they are nailing Facebook and Pinterest). I rarely hear that from male teachers. Take the tech you are used to and bring it into the classroom. Ask for help. Most districts have a tech specialist, they have that job because they want to help you, ask!

The majority of educators are women, we have the power to empower girls. We are their biggest cheerleaders. Let’s cheer for them to be whoever they are meant to be, not the box society expects them to fit in.

Will You Stay Cold or Light a Fire?

Teachers are awesome. They are this group of people who put others before themselves. Many times before their families and social lives. They care more than you can imagine. Teachers take a lot of abuse. They allow things to just roll off their backs because they know what they are doing is the right thing and is for the betterment of society. While, thanks to social media, we have many leaders emerge and take stands, there is still a majority out there that are so busy putting others first, they aren’t taking a stand for the career they have put everything into. Because of this, I am starting to worry about education system of this country. We are starting a new year, I think with this new year, we need to say something. There is power in numbers and there are a lot more teachers out there than there are politicians. It is time to fight for our jobs. It is time to stand up for what is right.

If you are curious to what I am talking about, here are two examples:

  1. A few months ago my state, Alabama, got a new State Superintendent. Our former one “got it,” he understood students, teachers, and curriculum. Our new one, Michael Sentance, has a degree in American Studies and a law degree. He went from Assistant Attorney General of Massachusetts to their Undersecretary of Education then Secretary of Education. He’s never worked in a school, has no degree, and no experience. He also has no certification. He may have great ideas, but without experience does he even know if his ideas will work? How does this make those of us that are in schools feel? Those who have taken classes after classes on best practices, curriculum, and school management and are still paying for those classes with no pay raise for almost 7 years? But our government thinks that he is an expert yet teachers can’t get supplies and respect they deserve.
  2. Then, Betsy DeVos has been named as the President Elect’s US Secretary of Education. My first thought was to be glad it wasn’t Michelle Rhee. But then I read her resume. Again, a US Secretary of Edu without an education degree. But it gets worse. She has never even attended a public school. We laugh in education at how everyone is an expert because they went to public school, she didn’t. Her kids have never attended public schools. She’s never worked in education. She did lobby for Detroit, I’ll let you read this and form your own opinion.

So yeah, teachers are taking hits. You have to wonder what these degrees are actually worth. The years of preparing for walking into classrooms are for naught. Almost 60% of us have higher degrees, not many professions can boast that. We need to speak up. We need to start proving our expertise. While shopping on Black Friday I saw this quote from Horace Traubel, “If the world is cold, make it your business to build fires.”

20161126_182704

I think it’s time to start building fires. Not time to be defiant (we are teachers, we like rules) but time to take a stand. Stop allowing others to put down our profession and taking away our voice. Naturally teachers are nurturers we put everyone else before us, we chose a profession out of love not need to make a lot of money. But if we keep rolling and not asking for help from the community and politicians while educating them, then we can’t expect things to get better. Start here with signing and sharing this petition to Congress.

Where Is That Bridge Over the Digital Divide?

I made a joke the other day that there was an entire generation of people that has no idea why people are looking at their phones and raising eye brows and opening their mouths. (If you are one of them, Snap Chat has filters that change when you raise your eye brows or open your mouth.) While I said it as a joke, I started thinking about the fact that this is true. No not everyone needs to know how to Snap Chat but adults need to know what kids are doing when using phones/internet. Especially teachers.

 

I live on the side of a mountain in Alabama. We had snow/ice/sleet last night so spent the night at my parents’ house to avoid getting stranded (they also have more food and a generator if power goes out). While snooping in my childhood bedroom I found a note passed to me from a friend back in middle school. While I found “so was Space Jam any good, I think we are going Friday” hilarious, of course it was awesome, the rest made me stop and think. She was ranting about our Spanish teacher going on and on about something that happened 20 years ago. She said, “why would I care about something that happened that long ago, she needs to worry about today.” So this may have just sounded like typical bored middle schooler but I had just had a conversation with my mom that made this hit home.

Earlier I was telling my mom about how I was explaining to some teachers that if Google Suite makes their lives easier, then they need to remember it can help their students’ lives easier. After talking about a few more conversations like that she looked at me and said, “you have to wonder how many times a day students look at teachers and think, why can’t they get it, they are so old and behind the times” she then said, “it is like there is a language barrier without anyone to interpret for each group.” Huh. She may be right.

When I was in grad school I had to do so many projects on the digital divide and “haves” versus “have nots” when it came to technology usage. We learned that people with money used tech and those without did not. I think our digital divide has shifted. When I pause and look at education and technology, our kids get it and find ways to get/use technology. That socioeconomic divide is getting smaller everyday, but a new divide is taking over. The new digital divide is from those resistant to use technology with students and those that use it as best as they can. The ones finding ways to use it are speaking the language and meeting the needs of the students that need the technology. They get that students don’t have pencils because outside of school work, there are not uses for them. They get that since they use digital calendars for everything at their place of business, this may work for their students as well. I get the push back all the time, I don’t like having my students use Google Docs because that is not what they will use in business, they need Word. I get that, but how many of your students have computers with Word? I bet that number is drastically less than the number of students who have smart phones or tablets with a Google Doc app. We need to use what is best for them, now.

I understand, technology is hard. But if we want to reach all students, we need to try to speak their language. We need to get to their side of the divide. Maybe even make a funny video raising our eyebrows?

Socialized VS Self-Authoring: Where Is You Mind?

I am sitting here doing my ‘homework’ for a class I am in and I have a few thoughts. We are studying the top stages of Bob Kegan’s Constructive Developmental Theory are “socialized mind” and “self-authoring mind.”

Socialized = external sources shape our meaning-making

Self-authoring = my own internal thoughts shape my meaning-making

I wonder if Facebook and social media are causing us to move backwards or get stuck in the “socialized” level. I think the voices on the outside are given more opportunity to drown out the internal voice.

The question is, are we wrong for being the loud external voice? With this election and other social issues that are happening right now, are our constant posting of opinions and biased information bringing others down? Is this ok?

Shouldn’t we be looking for ways, especially as educators, to bring others to the self-authoring level? Our posts and comments that are constantly trying to sway others to our “side” is hurting others internal voice. You may be at the “self-authoring” level but that does not mean your beliefs are the only ones out there. It is ok to share your opinions and ideas. We all should, as well as encourage our students to, share. But we have to be careful to think that our meaning-making is the only one out there. While influencing others is great, we have to step back and allow others a chance to listen to their internal voice. 

Last week a teacher left a nasty comment on my blog. I thought it funny at first, but then started to get angry the more I thought about it. I was not angry because of what she said, I was angry because she never questioned, just commented and insulted. She thought her way was correct without trying to see why I write like I do. Before correcting, we need to question. Why do you say that? What influenced your thinking? Those are better than just saying “I disagree and you are wrong.” (Or better yet, I shouldn’t be an educator.)

It is a hard balance to balance these two mindsets but it is something we need to be mindful of. We should strive to question and listen not overwhelm and push. The next generation, as well as our peers, need to grow their way, not ours.

Just my thoughts. Of course you are welcome to have your own 😉

Compliance and Grades

Welcome back to school! I love back to school season. All the fun school supplies. I especially love the back to school pictures of everyone’s kids on social media. But lately I’ve been seeing a lot of post on social media about those first day of school letters from teachers to parents and students. Those letters are usually full of procedures, FAQ, standards, etc. I love the “I don’t give homework” ones and I love the ones where you can tell the teachers are excited about the upcoming year. But I’m seeing another trend. A trend of teachers sending home procedures that are linked to grades. Those have really made me pause. Pause and reflect on things I did wrong as a teacher as well as what grades are in general.

Now I’m just going to put this disclaimer out there and get it over with, I know some of you hate grades and think we should all be standards based or whatever. This is not about that so don’t go there. Some teachers don’t get a choice. My focus is on making that choice wisely.

OK now that is out of the way, back to those lovely parent letters and procedures. I’ve seen posts about bathroom passes costing points. If paper is not headed correctly. Turned into the wrong place. Not done in pencil (seriously it’s 2016). Notebooks not in correct order. Tardiness adding up. Class Dojo points added to grade. List goes on and on.

I had my own quirks as a teacher. I took off points after a week late. I gave homework then gave grades for students just finishing it, not on correctness. I stopped giving homework because I realized I was just giving grades for those that had parents at home not for learning.

One post about restroom passes equally bonus points, a teacher replied that she didn’t do this but had 56 students a day and needed them to help organization. I wish I had had 56 students, I had 156, but organization can’t be my focus of the day.

So let’s stop for one minute. Forget all I said above and remember why we have school. What is the point? Why do we have grades? I had a teacher ask me last week why I started using Google Drive. I told her because I felt like my classroom was becoming more of a place for me to work instead of a place for my students to learn so I had to make it more streamlined and less about paperwork.  But that is a huge problem. We are putting so much on teachers that schools are becoming a workplace not a learning place. That stress and burden is then reflected in our grading system.

We have to stop and think, “does this grade reflect learning or does it reflect learning?” If it is about completion, behavior, etc, it’s not about learning. Yes we need order to have a safe place to learn, but what you see as organization is not clear organization for some of your students. Think about students with ADHD. Those that don’t know me, I’m huge advocate for kids with ADHD because there is so much more that goes on in their brains than just paying attention. Now look at that list in the 2nd paragraph. Heading papers – Yeah speed isn’t on their side, your heading just added 10 to 20 minutes of procrastination to their assignment. Restroom – please spend a week on ADHD meds and tell me how your stomach feels after the lunchroom. Notebooks and tardiness – not even going to touch organization and timeliness. Dojo –  just stop. The list goes on and on. Same thing could be said for kids with disabilities. Dyslexia. Autism. ESL.

So our grades are going to reflect two things, compliance or learning. If your grades are reflecting compliance, kids are going to be resentful. They are going to give up because it really doesn’t matter if they study because they can still have a low grades. It also is doing the opposite. It’s allowing students to show up to your class and pass with high grades but not learn what is needed to move to the next course. How many times have you gotten a group of students and they didn’t know the basics from the year before and you wanted to blame that teacher last year. Maybe the kids didn’t learn, they just headed their papers pretty and didn’t use restroom passes to make that 60 to move on.

Be mindful of what your expectations are for your class. Be mindful of your grades. Before you put in that grade book or mark of a paper, ask yourself if you can prove the student learned something here. If not, reevaluate. We want learners not compliant little people. Isn’t that what the entire school reform movement is all about, getting away from teaching students to be robotic factory workers but places for students to learn to be successful at their pace and skill levels?

Shifts, Growing Pains, Gold Medals, and Such

Ever have a time in your life when ideas, conversations, as well as changes were happening all around you? School starts back next week for my district. Through wrapping up all my summer learning and preparing tech changes in my district my head is over-flowing. All of it seems to be orbiting around without a star to pull it all together. It gets overwhelming. It causes mental exhaustion. Today I was having a voxer conversation and the person I was talking to started reflecting on what he was working on today and said something that may have sparked me a star. It totally stopped all the spinning and pulled it all together.

So this whole profound convo, he started talking about how hard it is to get people to move from what they know is not easy, you have to promise them it’s for certain reasons. The conversation went on to talk about how they will find reasons not to and why it is harder but sometimes the answer to why we make changes is because it creates something equal for everyone. And in the end it takes a culture shift.

And that right there sums up every single one of those satellites orbiting around in my mind. None of them colliding but every single one of them connected by the fact that if the change or shift happens we have made something more equal easier for others, and by others, I’m referring to those we are providing service to. Even if that means we have to go through growing pains during that shift.

The Olympics start this week. Gymnastics has always been my favorite event. I took gymnastics when I was younger and was even Jefferson County Schools 1st grade champion back in the day. Big deal, y’all. But here’s the cool thing about gymnastics, it’s a progressive sport. Every year the difficulty gets harder. Remember 1996 team in Atlanta? They were amazing. I remember sitting in a dorm lobby at cheer camp in front of a 24” TV with 100 other girls watching Kerri Strug on the vault. But the deal is, if someone this year did one of those routines in Rio, no one would close to getting a gold. What was once almost impossible is now less than normal.

Education needs progressive. What was gold standard 20 years ago shouldn’t be gold this year. Our world is changing constantly. Education has to keep up. Few weeks ago I went to a viewing of  “Most Likely to Succeed.” I could write for days about that movie but one thing that stuck out to me was what was said about jobs today. They no longer need muscle power and mental power. Sit on that for one minute. We don’t have many jobs done by hand that are not being replaced by machines. We don’t have many jobs that need memorization of facts, we can Google that.  What do our jobs today need? Critical thinkers. Problem solvers. Yet how much of our schools are changing? Are we still training compliant workers or are we encouraging problem solvers? I’ve had 3 convos over last month about discipline and classroom management and I kept getting feedback about more rules or procedures. Each time I wanted to just scream “or just change how you do school!” but I didn’t. I wasn’t in that position. But we can’t still expect kids to sit in desk all day and be compliant but not expect them to act out due to boredom and frustration. We have to engage all learners. We must make that shift to make school equal for all students. We must shift until all students leave with equal opportunities. There are going to be a lot of growing pains but we have to get there.

So while our education needs to be progressive, technology already is. Technology is changing at insane rate (that’s called Moore’s Law which is that processing speed doubles every 18 months). So while technology is changing and we can’t accurately predict trends, there are people (like me) so study these trends. I saw a Time Hop post the other day that was from 8 years ago, I posted on Facebook that Google Forms or Soho forms had the abilities to change my life. If you know me, Google Forms controls my life. That also means I’ve been using Google Docs for 8 years. Sometimes when we need to make a shift in technology, it’s not because it can do the same thing as another, it is because it will make the playing field equal. Yes Word and Docs do similar things, but which one is accessible to most students? Where can teachers post reminders that will reach all students? What is collaborative and able to support progressive education? Sometimes the adults must go through technology growing pains to support students in the future.

All of this to say, we need schools to shift. Technology and our world outside school is changing rapidly. That means we have to get out of the “way it has always been” mindset and start moving forward as quickly as everything around us. Prepare for growing pains because in the end when we see how equal opportunities for all makes a difference, it will all be worth it. And if you are not ready for change, then move out of the way. Are you ready to grow. 

*I didn’t name who I has this convo with because it was a private convo. But if he reads this and decides he wants credit for brilliance, I’ll edit*

Know When It’s Time To Get Out Of The Rain

Have you ever gotten stuck in the rain? I live in the south and most summer days there is a rain shower around 5:00. Where I live in Alabama we actually get more rain than Seattle. So I rarely leave home without an umbrella or rain jacket. The problem is rain jackets and umbrella don’t ever really keep you dry. Your feet, legs, and face will always be wet no matter what. The only way to stay dry, to stay inside.

I love social media. It’s a huge part of my day. I’m one who sees the benefits and have preached the goodness before hashtag were a thing. Through it I connect with others and have some amazing conversations that challenge my thinking and professional practice. With the mainstream of social media it has become a place to get world and local news real time. No more waiting until 5:00 to hear what is going on with the world. And that keeps us in the know and aware at all times. Last week while in Denver there was an active shooter in the area and I could watch the tweets and knew what was happening and where. This is a huge positive in our society.

Umbrella

But there is something different when it comes to this type of “journalism.” When you watch the 6:00 news the news anchor reads the facts (usually). If there is a house fire on 4th Avenue, they read there is a house fire on 4th Avenue and probably tell you that first responders are on the scene. No opinions up front. If a person on social media posts they may post that same report but with their own post with an opinion. For example they could post the link to the info about the fire with the comment “this is my aunt’s house, pray for her during this time.” That post will probably get shared with sympathy and people offering to help. Those emotions are now tied to the story. But someone could take the same story and say “this house is my neighbor. It is a known meth lab. Hope the dealers are caught.” That post of the same news story would probably spark rants about drug use in a neighborhood and negative comments. Same story but when human opinion comes into play, the reaction of others differs, is shared, and more opinions given.

This past week many dark and terrible stories have broke. The stories reported were not just of someone losing their lives but are posted with opinions in forms of videos, memes, etc. The opinions and lack of facts spark anger beyond just the anger of what has happened because others’ emotions are muddled in. The emotions and opinions start taking on the headlines and the facts and information gets lost.

Remember above when I mentioned getting stuck in a rain shower? When you are out and the first few drops hit we are usually able to grab cover and get inside with just a few drops on us. Those news stories and the emotions with them are like those rain drops. The smart thing to do when it starts, take a few drops in, pay attention, but grab cover before you get drenched. If you get stuck walking home without a rain jacket, those few drops eventually add up and your entire body becomes drenched. When tragedy that is controversial or can have high emotions happen, you need to take cover and get out. Stop standing there and letting it drench you. Because those emotions build and get stronger until they turn into an obsession. Do you need to stand up for what’s right? Heck yes, but we don’t need to add to the situation.

As educators or parents or just humans around children, we need to teach them how to turn it off. Literacy now includes how to find the real information in a sea of opinions. This is a life skill that needs to be taught in every classroom. There also need to be guidance on how to get out of the tragedy in front of them on the screens and get out in their community to take stands and remember there is good still out there.

I didn’t write this to belittle horrific events but I write this to remind us all to step back. Look at facts before opinions. Live life. Take a deep breath. For the sake of sanity. Then later after your emotions are in check, look for ways to make a difference, to have your voice heard. Social media is not the only place. More good will be done in your community telling the stories that are real and happening around you. Understand that hate isn’t the answer. Understand others. And most importantly, empathy. This is the generation we need to be bringing up.

It’s Not About the Tools… Or Is It? #ISTE2016

Over the last few days I’ve been in Denver for the ISTE Conference, along with 15,000 or so other educators. This is a tech conference. Yeah it gets geeky. Every year I go to sessions or walk through the vendor hall and get frustrated at the pitches of next best thing that will change education (and usually cost you a fortune). I get frustrated when I heard proposals from friends that were rejected because they didn’t focus on an app or a website. I even wrote a blog post about it one year after leaving the conference.

Hand drawn ISTE logo

But if you know me, you know that when I see that I’m wrong I’ll be the first to admit it. You see a big part of learning during ISTE for me is from conversations with my brilliant friends who are also my mentors. During a late night convo with Dean Shareski and Brent Catlett about 1:1 and getting teachers and leaders to use technology, Dean said something that really stuck with me (not surprising, he’s had more influence on me than anyone else in this field). He said that, it has to be about the technology, we can’t just ignore what is there. And he’s right. Sometimes schools and districts get so caught up in changing the pedagogy and how we teach that we forget to show the what and how when it comes to technology.

Yes, we have got to change schools and what is happening in the classrooms. It can no longer be “sit and get,” students need to be creating, discovering the world beyond 4 walls of a classroom, and taking charge of their learning, I think everyone is getting this, but this cannot be at the level kids deserve without technology. We put so much time and money focusing on PBL and curriculum design but how much of that professional development includes new technology that can open doors for our students? Are instructional technology specialist in your district being tapped for this PD or is their PD always focused on “how to use” type training? I so often see the only time technology is used for PBL is to research and/or make a Google Slide to show what they know. If we are taking how we teach our students to another level, then we need to take how they use technology to that level as well.

Are you using robots to teach measurement, angles, and coding? Oh wait, most importantly, problem solving? Do your art students have an online digital portfolio? How often do your students collaborate online in a safe place? When you are teaching about a landform or country, do you just show pictures or videos or do you allow students to “visit” via Google Cardboard and now available Google Expeditions? Where in the country or world is that class that your class collaborates with located? How deep are your once a week digital citizenship conversations with students? Do you allow students to use Desmos for free when they can’t afford a graphing calculator? Did your students bubble in answers to show reading comprehension or did sock puppets give you a recap?

The technology is there, so much of it becoming so affordable and available. Everything I mentioned above is something your classroom or school can afford. It kind of is about those tools because without them your students loose that empowerment and can do those skills. Should the tools be your main focus? Should you plan your lessons around that cool new app? No way but you can’t use that as an excuse to not use it. Your students deserve better.