How many times have you rushed to the store to buy a hacksaw (that you did not need) and then returned home to stand around and think “what can I cut up with this hacksaw now that I have it?” Do you then start cutting up your kitchen table, couch, door, and any other object you can find just to make use of the hacksaw that you did not need? This erroneous line of thinking is what happens when educators choose a technology tool just for the sake of using one and then try to find the activities, standards, and lessons that fit the technology.
When I think about using technology in my STEM classes, it is usually an afterthought. I plan my objectives, activities, and pedagogy first, then sit back and think “how can I make these better?” That’s where I dive deep into the resources of the internet, colleagues, research, and social media to find technology that meets the needs of my students and objectives. I know that if the technology is the spotlight of the lesson, which if I am using technology to try to force tech integration, then I am not meeting the needs of my students. This where the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework is a helpful guide as it addresses the deep knowledge and understanding required by teachers to determine what is good for learning.
With the Internet being a vast wealth of information, it can become quickly overwhelming for educators to navigate and find the resources they need. There are different One of my favorite websites for finding resources that utilize technology is PBS Learning Media. Although this is a great web page for lessons, PBS also provides individual resources such as video, audio, interactives, and self-paced lessons that I can use to supplement and enhance lessons I have already created. I love the ability to search by content, grade level, and type!
But wait, it may be easy to pull a digital resource from the web and use it in your classroom, but how do you know that you are providing engaging and educational learning experiences (activity types that involve TPACK) for your students? Let me share with you one of my favorite YouTube channels, Common Sense Education. This channel provides videos on digital learning tools and helpful tips, tricks, and links that I wish I would have known my first few years of teaching.
Lastly, I would like to share with you my most used technology tool. The high school I teach at is 1-1 devices (currently a mixture of iPad and Chromebook) and we rely on and use Google apps. My favorites are Google Classroom (for assignments, sharing, and collaborating), Keep (organizing to do lists and sharing), Cast (sharing my screen and students screen on the interactive whiteboard), and Docs/Drawing/Sheets (with add ons such as Goobric or Doctopus). Yet, my list of favorites changes from class to class and year to year with the changes in technology, the needs of my students, and the standards of the courses I teach.