I meant to write this post last weekend, but somehow time kept moving and it’s already Thursday. How did that happen??
I had many visitors in my classroom last week, and each time someone came in, they commented on the technology that I was using in my classes. As much as I love using tech, I’m also a major advocate of not using it for the sake of it – there has to be a genuine purpose behind it. The comments really got me thinking about how my use of technology has changed over the decade that I’ve been teaching.
When I started teaching back in Australia, I had a chalkboard and overhead projector in my classroom. I was forever covered in chalk dust (including the frequent chalk handprints on my backside after wiping my hands!), and I had quite the collection of OHP transparencies and pens. The last six months I was there, I was so happy to have been given a dry erase whiteboard – though I still used my OHP frequently! Granted, it was a small country town, but there was one smart board in the town and nobody knew how to use it. True story!
Moving to the UK was an overwhelming experience in so many ways, not least of which was that every single classroom in the school I started at had a computer, projector and IWB. I had never used one before, but picked it up relatively quickly. It was definitely wasted for the first couple of weeks, and used to display the powerpoints and videos I’d been putting together (not only was I adapting to the UK curriculum, but also to accents, weather and I was living in a hotel for the first week of teaching!). I was observed by someone from the teaching agency I was employed by after 5 weeks, and by that stage I’d pretty much mastered it, to the point where the observer commented that I was more competent with it than people he’d seen using them for years.
My use of tech has grown exponentially over the past seven years of teaching in the UK, culminating in my current post with the responsibility for using new technologies to enhance teaching and learning. I’ve stopped considering many of the things that I do as ‘special’, despite the fact that many of my colleagues would view them as being out of the ordinary. Some of the ‘basics’ that I used last week:
- ClassDojo (again in conjunction with Vivo)
- Online stopwatch
- Random name picker from classtools.net
- Music timer from classtools.net
- Stage: Interactive Whiteboard and Document Camera
- Google Classroom
- Activ Studio on my Promethean smart board – using it to scribble notes on the board but also importing PDFs of worksheets and writing the answers on them.
As I said, to me that’s not a particularly impressive list, but each of the items served a purpose and helped my students to progress over the course of their lessons. One of the things that I’m trying to do more of this year is to share quick technology tools with other teachers, particularly those who are less confident or competent with technology. I’ve shared many of these tools over the last couple of weeks, and I know that staff are using them (including one of the Geography teachers who emailed me today about ‘that class dino thing’!). I now need to be pushing myself further to experiment more with technology in the classroom, and to really start putting it in the hands of my students. I have a plan in the works for that, and hopefully I’ll be reflecting on it in the months to come.