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Twenty Everyday Ways to Model Technology Use for Students

Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Middle School teacher by day, Tweenteacher by night

Twenty Everyday Ways to Model Technology Use

I wanted to post a list that talked about how to "use" technology in the classroom, but I found myself revising that word "use" to the more general word, "model." The reason I did this is because so many teachers believe that if students aren't actively sitting in front of the computer screen themselves, then clearly technology is not being used in the classroom.

This myth can be a gatekeeper of sorts for many teachers, and I wanted to create a list that both gives advice on how to "use" but also acknowledges that in simply modeling the use the of technology, the students are also learning to use it in an indirect way.

It's all about Think Aloud, that age-old trick of simply narrating everything you are doing as the wiser, more experienced brain in the room. Narrate your decisions and your rationale and you will be teaching your students how to make good decisions online and off. Good behavior online is trickle down, after all. Model it, live it, talk about it. It's all "using" technology.

#1. Post a list of norms for online and offline behavior and keep it up. Refer to it. Make it a part of your classroom culture.

#2. Make your LCD projector and/or interactive whiteboard a daily part of how you teach lessons.

#3. Set up your technology in front of your students while talking them through the process. Eventually, create a "tech crew" made up of first period students that set up your technology during announcements in the morning. Maybe they come in a few minutes early. However you want to work it, ask the students to be involved.

#4. No matter if you have a one-computer or a 10-computer classroom, you can have resources available and open at all times using the computer as a station. Can't find the right word when you're modeling writing an essay? Walk over to the computer while you are talking to the students and use visualthesarus.com to find just the right word.

#5. Use a document camera for sharing student work.

#6. Skype with another teacher on campus in front of the classes. It's a fishbowl strategy of sorts that models video conferencing norms. Discuss the topic together. Share work in which you have pride. In no time, students will be able to videoconference with each other with similar poise.

#7. Take a photo of an interesting location with your cell phone, email it to yourself, and use it the next day to help teach a concept: descriptive writing about a setting, for example. Show students you are thinking of their learning even outside of the classroom. After all, learning shouldn't end at the bell.

#8. Be transparent with your Google searches. Use Google Advanced Search while on the LCD projector and use Think Aloud to share why you are using the keywords that you are using.

#9. Look at the law on copyright infringement together as a class. Revise some multiple choice reading comprehension questions to assess their understanding of this vital informational text. Voila! Test prep that applies to the real world!

#10. Present your lesson using a Powerpoint or a Prezi. Better yet, initially create it with input from the class so they can see how you assemble it. Now you're discussing content and methodology.

#11. Show an excerpt from a TED.com video to introduce a concept. Model how to navigate through the menus to find just the right video with the topic you seek.

#12. Use your interactive whiteboard in anyway that you know how. Even if you don't have it all under your belt just yet, use Think Aloud to babble about how to open files, save files, change colors and fonts, create slides, create a link, etc. as you move through your subject-matter lesson.

#13. Allow students to see how you organize your computer desktop. For any document you seek to open, make your search transparent so that they understand more and more the concept of file organization.

#14. Rather than having some photos of your own family stuck with magnets on your mini-fridge door, use a digital frame on your desk with scrolling pictures from your own collection. It just adds to the ambiance of a 21st century environment, which is the habitat in which the students live outside of school's walls.

#15. Model reflection by keeping a transparent blog related to your classroom's activities so that people know what's going on. Perhaps it's as simple as a sentence or two that sums up a lesson, but help students realize that thinking back embeds the lesson even further.

#16. Set up an email contact list of your students (if the student is old enough, help them set up a gmail account if they don't have an email account already). Send out a blast of a cool resource or two every now and then. Let them know when there's an interesting local museum exhibit or book signing. Send them a resource for a research paper they may not have heard of. Model how to use email.

#17. Use an excerpt from a class at iTunes U to help enhance a lesson or concept. Model how to navigate the site.

#18. Download Evernote to all of your devices so that as anything occurs to you (questions, eureka moments, resources discussed, etc.) you can whip out your smart phone, laptop, iPad, whatever, and model using the Cloud for ongoing note taking.

#19. Use technology in your offline vocabulary. Refer to "files" when talking about organizing different classroom resources. Ask students to share by also occasionally calling it "uploading" for the class. Use words like "collaboration" and "networks" when working in small groups. These are not just technological terms, they are 21st century terms, and should be embedded into your teaching.

#20. Model flexibility. Remember, whenever you use technology, things go wrong. Have a Plan B or at least model "water off a duck." It will be the most important lesson you can model because life, both online and off, requires us to shrug sometimes and simply move on.

Comments (19)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Bob Plants's picture

There's a problem with many of these examples. It's a problem that people who think too much money is spent on technology for the return in investment. What is the problem? Almost none of these technology uses have any affect on student achievement. Why? Well they are focused on traditional teacher-centered practices and do nothing to integrate instructional practices/pedagogy that does lead to effects on achievement. If you want to model effective technology integration, then you must get the technology into kids hands. Meet kids where they are instead of expecting them to come to you. I'm talking about instructional practices for example where kids build digital stories or use online technology tools to research. These practices make their thinking visible, allow teachers to determine their depth of understanding, and reteach or provide feedback to clear up misconceptions. It also serves to engage kids in their own learning and helps to help them learn strategies that are effective for their own learning. I'll stop here but there's more, so much more.

Doc Deb's picture
Doc Deb
Opinionated. Honest. Instructional Designer. Researcher. Faculty.

While I agree with some of what Dr. Bob stated, what Heather is stating in her blog posting is how to "model" the use of technology in the classroom. I think the issue is with the word integration. Integration would be the use of technology within the curriculum to stimulate motivation and provide "real-world" use of the technology that students are using on a daily basis outside of the classroom. We can model the use of technology all day long...but this is where Dr. Bob and I agree - modeling is not enough. Integration is key and until we realize it does not take hundreds of thousands of dollars to do this - we are missing a large part of moving our teaching strategies into the 21st century. As an instructional designer & technologist - I tell my "learners" (pre-and in-service teachers) all the time that it will not cost them an arm and a leg to integrate the technology. FREE is the key word along with the teacher knowing HOW to use it. So, they model it (using it) and then engage their students by allowing THEM to use it.

Bob Plants's picture

Doc Deb, I think we are pretty much in total agreement here. Hope someone will listen.

Martha Kaufeldt's picture

Heather - I think this is a good list! There are many teachers that are still navigating their way towards "integrating" technology into daily classroom learning. Ian Jukes once said that if the students don't see evidence of technology being used in the classroom in the first five minutes of class, they begin to "Power Down!" There are MANY teachers that could use these ideas as they become fluent in the integration of technology use. (I have a new book co-authored with Gayle Gregory, titled: "Think BIG,Start Small: How to Differentiate Instruction in a Brain-Friendly Classroom." Our whole concept is to start where you are...) These ideas are great first small steps for many teachers. I believe that these strategies will, at the very least, get a few more teachers modeling that technology is becoming part of the their instructional repertoire. Student-centered technology integration will eventually come - modeling is not the end, it is just the beginning for some teachers.

Paige Vass's picture
Paige Vass
Elementary Sped Teacher from Virginia

I am not a pro at technology by any means, but I do try and learn. I often feel like I look unprepared when learning along with my students when technology fails, especially in front of a group of squirrely 1st graders. Thanks for the practical look at getting students involved in the process. I think we use technology to teach, but often to not have and or take the time to teach the technology. This has created a generation of students who can use an ipod and not create and save a word doc. To create 21st century citizens, we need to teach the technology! THanks for the ideas!

H. Robinson's picture

I think modeling of the technology is important. Students always want to know "why do we have to learn this?" Modeling the use of technology is one way to show them why. Thank you for the list. It gave me some good ideas.

Liza's picture
6th grade language arts

This is a great jumping off point. I work with a slightly older faculty and while some have embraced technology others are still quite reluctant. This list will be a great tool to encourage them to join the technology era. Thanks for creating it!

Liza's picture
6th grade language arts

This is a great jumping off point. I work with a slightly older faculty and while some have embraced technology others are still quite reluctant. This list will be a great tool to encourage them to join the technology era. Thanks for creating it!

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