Technology Integration for Elementary Classrooms.

I cannot be the only person who used to get excited when the teacher wheeled the TV cart into the classroom, checked the VCR, and slid in the Bill Nye the Science Guy tape. Can I? I’m only 27 years old, so I’m sure some of you out there can think back to technology in schools even before the life changing black cart was drug into the classroom. Yes, you remember this cart.

I for one, am a huge believer in technology integration into the modern classroom, if you know what you’re doing! I’d like to get onto my pedestal for just a minute and point out that to me, technology integration is a tool used to enhance the learning of a student, NOT a piece of equipment you pull out to occupy them as you might in a grocery store, or on a long car ride. There, now that I’ve gotten that cleared up, back to it.

Technology integration into the classroom has been going on for a long time now and with proper training and time commitment, it can be an amazing tool in the pursuit of knowledge for young learners. There are several places you can go to find why someone might use technology in a classroom and one of the key things I kept finding was that as teachers, “We should be integrating technology, not letting it take over our classroom.” I like to use technology in small pieces, maybe the students get to come up and write on the SMARTBOARD, or perhaps I’ll project something with the document camera. Technology doesn’t always have to be a device for every student, it can be something small. Starting small and working up to using a tablet or computer can be a great way to extend a lesson for those higher level kids, and during a small group setting, perhaps you are also using a tablet of sorts to reinforce their learning.

In my opinion, technology will never be able to take the place of great teachers, but I think it can make great teachers even better. “We need to keep up with the times in order to best prepare our students for this ever-changing world that we live in.” I think back to when I was in school and my teachers were preparing me for college and the work force some day. I recall always being told that learning how to use a computer would one day make my life a great deal easier. I look to the different programs that are out there, the use of Youtube tutorials, Google Classroom, DropBox, and others and know that the technology world my students are growing up in and going to one day be working in is changing all the time. Adaptability is one thing that teachers should be teaching their students with technology. That piece of technology is great, when it’s working, but how can we adapt when it isn’t? How do I teach my students to be prepared for when their work isn’t where they thought it was. Great teachers should use technology to make themselves and their lessons better. While they’re at it, they will be teaching their students the tricks and tips along the way.

To me, the benefits of technology, far outweigh the drawbacks. Yes, you’re going to have to set expectations. Yes, you may have to help an entire class of students log in. And yes, you may have to completely scrap a lesson because of a glitch, or a scheduling conflict. But let’s think about the seemingly endless supply of teachable moments that come, even in those drawbacks. The benefits of technology in our classrooms, such as, virtual tours, project chat, online submitting, and the ability to “visit” a place so far away, with just your fingertips, this is why I’m all for technology. “On a virtual field trip, you and your students can go just about anywhere on Earth — or even into the solar system.” With the constant talks around almost every school district about budget, having the ability to take your students anywhere they want to go can be an experience some of our students may only have in a classroom. We should also be thinking about those students who see technology as the only real thing that gets them excited to come to school. I for one want all of my students to come and be thrilled at another learning opportunity. If that means that I use the document camera, or let the students use laptops to elicit interest from that student in the class who doesn’t really speak out all that much, that’s what I’ll do.

As I mentioned before, technology does have some drawbacks. It can be a distraction, you may have to sit down and figure out how something works, and the internet doesn’t always have the most factual pieces of literature out there. But, are those few things enough to stop a student from exploring a new potential they didn’t know they had before? Just because you may not want to “deal with technology”, can we limit our students in our classrooms because of your comfort levels? I for one don’t think so. I think we challenge ourselves as educators — just as we challenge our students — to use technology as a tool to help our young learners achieve new heights.

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