Prepared by Laurie Goode

"If we teach today the way we were taught yesterday,
we aren't preparing students for today or tomorrow." - Anonymous

Technology has become a part of schools everywhere. Computers and other technology resources are available for teachers and students' use to enhance the learning experience, but these resources must be used effectively in order to contribute to student learning. With technology, students are now able to publish work for an authentic audience, giving a greater value to the work. Technology is breaking down the remote walls of schools and bringing global education to the front of the line.

National Education Technology Standards

Standard 1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity
I believe that a classroom teacher's number one priority is his or her students. With this priority in mind, it is a teacher's responsibility to use all available resources to facilitate student learning and inspire creativity. Teachers should also model the behavior they expect of their students, which in this case, is using the technology for creative instructional purposes. There are many resources for teachers and students to use in the classroom in today's digital world. For example, a teacher may use a powerpoint slideshow to add to a lecture or presentation and students may use GoogleEarth to study maps and learn directions. The key to both of these examples is that the technology adds to the lesson.

Technology today opens up many doors to the classroom. For example, with virtual field trips, students can explore nearby places, even if the budget does not allow a fieldtrip in reality, and students can explore far away places that would be almost impossible to visit (cross country and even international!). Here is an example of a virtual field trip to Ancient Egypt through the British Museum where students can explore hieroglyphics and more. One benefit of virtual field trips is the interdisciplinary links between subjects that can be explored. Teachers should explore the internet and find which doors they want to open in their classroom.

Technology offers even more benefits for student learning when implemented in the classroom. First, it gives students an opportunity to explore real world problems and create and showcase solutions to these problems. Also, teachers can and should use technology to promote student reflection. Students can keep a running log through email or other programs that can be archived easily that can be viewed by the teacher in order to help the teacher plan lessons that better suit the needs of the students based on their conceptual understanding.

Overall, it is important for teachers to implement technology in the classroom for their own instructional innovations as well as to promote student learning and creativity.

Standard 2. Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
If the new research on best practices is combined with technology from today's digital-age, it is archaic to think about teaching lessons with identical instructional strategies that were used fifty years ago, even ten years ago! Technology in the classroom enables both students and teachers a means to express individual originality. It allows students of all learning types a means to customize or personalize learning experiences. For example, if students are researching the controversy of global warming and its effects, students can choose the best way to document their findings: a powerpoint presentation, a video using iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, a graphic organizer using Inspiration, etc. This element of choice gives students the responsibility to their work that will in turn increase motivation and promote students learning.

Technology also allows students the opportunity to complete authentic assessments that can be viewed by a real audience; this opportunity to create work for a real audience is a powerful motivator for many students. One example of using the internet or classroom computer to promote student learning is by archiving students' work that can be reviewed at a later date for test review. This is an idea that can be applied to the following lesson plan on the Pythagorean Theorem. In an effort to help students understand the importance of the Pythagorean Theorem and the formula's every day use, I created an interdisciplinary lesson plan that incorporated math and geography with the use of computers for research and a document camera for presentations and easily archived files. These files can be posted to a classroom, school, district, or state website that offers Standards of Learning test review links to the students' work.

Not all lessons benefit from the use of technology, and it is the teacher's responsibility to consider the relative advantage of technology's role in the lesson.

Standard 3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning
It is not surprising to walk into a classroom today in which the students are more in tune with technology and more capable of using the new technology than the classroom teacher. I believe that teachers should always be open to learning with and from students in order to promote a successful classroom climate conducive to learning that models the importance of life-long learning. However, teachers can also demonstrate the importance of life-long learning by taking initiative to learn how new technologies work and their added instructional value. Technology provides the perfect opportunity to model this continuing process of learning since many of the technology applications available in the classroom today were not available or even imagined when teachers were in their students' places.

One way to model the advantageous use of technology is through keeping an updated classroom website. My Classroom Portal/Website is a hypothetical framework of what could be included on a classroom website to promote teacher/parent interaction. By posting updates often, parents can stay up-to-date with what is happening in their child's classroom. Teachers can also use a weekly email to communication with parents, and with permission, text messaging can be a third means for communication. Another way to model teacher fluency with technology systems to support student success is by incorporating a variety of technology systems in the classroom from document cameras to computer software programs to digital microscopes.

Standard 4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility
"Actions speak louder than words" and "practice what you preach" are two common adages that are appropriate to keep in mind when teaching students about citizenship and responsibility in both the non-digital and the digital world. Teachers should take necessary measures to ensure they are practicing in a professional manner, including providing documentation of borrowed sources and taking precautions against violating copyright laws. Citing others' works does not always give a teacher permission to use that work, especially if reposting on the internet. While fair use is helpful for teachers to use copyrighted materials for educational purposes, teachers must take initiative to understand the regulations of fair use. This knowledge on copyright laws demonstrated in the classroom should be passed along to students in written documentation. I created an example of an informational handout on copyright regulations to distribute to students and parents.

As stated with other standards, technology can be used to reach all students' needs. I have worked in a special education classroom where technology was used to give voices to two students who were unable to speak verbally. It is important to find ways to give all students access to whatever it is that they may need, from a voice to an audio recording of homework completed orally for those who are unable to write. Click here to watch a brief video for more information on assistive technology.

Finally, it is important for teachers to understand their responsibility pf being a role model in the community. Teachers should act as professionals at all times, including when communicating through emails and other sources of technology such as a classroom website or discussion board.

Standard 5. Professional Growth and Leadership
In a profession where views, theories, and best practices are constantly flucuating, it is critical that teachers participate in professional growth in order to ensure that students are always receiving the best education. As mentioned earlier, many teachers must learn how to use technology when their students from the younger digital generation already know how to use it. It is necessary for teachers to continue the lifelong journey of learning, especially in the field of technology, so teachers can be up-to-date with the integration of technology in the classroom to promote student learning.

In conjunction with professional growth, teachers can and should help their colleagues grow as teachers also. Two ways I have attempted to help fellow teachers is by designing a technology expert module on digital microscopes for teachers looking for information on how to use digital microscopes in their elementary classroom and by collaborating with two classmates and experienced cooperating teachers to develop ways to avoid dead time in the classroom. These two examples show leadership through collaboration with colleagues in shared decision making.

Professional growth and leadership should be an integral part of a teacher's practice when regarding technology and its uses in the classroom as well as all other areas of teaching.