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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Getting Started with Technology Integration in Your Classroom

Mary Beth Hertz

K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA

Since I have started this blog in the summertime, I figured it would be appropriate to start discussing, thinking about and planning for the coming school year. As such, this post will focus on planning curriculum, projects and lessons that are aligned with technology standards.

Whether you are a veteran teacher who is comfortable integrating technology into your lessons, a new teacher just starting out or a mid-career teacher wanting to start integrating more technology into your lessons (or any mixture of the above), the first place to start is the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS*S) developed by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). These standards are a great framework for planning lessons and projects that combine technology literacy with academic standards and critical thinking skills.

The NETS Standards can be found on ISTE's website and also through their new mobile app for the iPhone. There are NETS for Students, Teachers and Administrators. It is a good idea to peruse the Teacher Standards to see how you 'measure up.' The NETS*S are broken up into six strands:

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts

These strands include skills and concepts that you are hopefully already addressing in your classroom, thought they stress how technology will aid you in addressing these standards.

For example, if your students are writing stories, you can tie your project into the sixth strand by having your students choose how they want to tell their stories (i.e. VoiceThread, Comic Life, word processing, video). In addition, you are tying into the first strand by allowing your students to create original works as a means of personal expression. This project can also be tied to the second strand if you begin to incorporate social media or allow your students to post their work online and allow for others to view it and comment on it. Should you allow your students to work in teams or groups and collaborate using tools like Google Docs or a wiki, you have also tied into the second strand. Guiding your students through proper etiquette when posting and commenting on work will tie your lesson directly to the fifth strand.

By incorporating the NETS*S into your lessons you will be forced to look at your teaching differently as well as your students' learning process. I personally believe that learning for many students is social. In addition, purpose for learning is vital for student understanding and critical thinking. By incorporating tools into your teaching that allow students to contribute meaningful, personal work to the 'real world' and share their work with more than just the teacher, you can transform your teaching. This is how we really should be thinking about technology integration. Of course it will change what you do and how you do it, but think about how you can transform what you teach and how you teach. Just having students type an essay in a word processing application will not do much to change what you are teaching or what they are learning.

So as you prepare for this coming year, pull out a few ideas you have or a few lessons you've found successful and begin to analyze them through the filter of the NETS*S. Consider what you can do to incorporate them and consider how this incorporation can transform the lesson itself.

Comments (41)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Kathleen Lundgren's picture

I'm a curriculum coordinator and staff developer in Minnesota. I was getting ready to plan for next year when I ran across this in blog in the ACSD weekly email. I have to thank those of you who responded to the blog as it has set me thinking about the way in which I have been trying to integrate more technology into our curriculum. I am going to change my approach this year and focus on the content to be learned and then explore the potential technologies to support the learning for all kids. THANKS SO MUCH! Kathleen

Laura Pearson's picture

As a young teacher I am very excited and determined to use technology in my classroom, but I often find it is overwhelming and intimidating. I have a Smartboard in my classroom, which I like, but I do not utilize it enough. My students love when I use the Smartboard in my room becuase it is interactive and fun! I have found that it is very important to have friends and colleagues who like to share their knowledge and expertise in technology. My school also has a technology cordinator who is available for extra assistance. I have also attended workshops and in-services that have helped to ease my mind, and they made me more comfortable with technology.
Also, I know about the NETS, but I am not familiar with them. They are not a top priority in my school or classroom, but I am interested in knowing more about them.

J Bickley's picture

Integrating technology into the classroom is of high priority at my school. I am a fairly new teacher and enjoy working with technology to enhance my lessons and my student's learning. I agree with Laura that sometimes, though, technology can be overwheleming and intimidating. I have been trying to learn all I can through classes and support of colleagues and our TIS at school so I feel comfortable to incorporate technology continuously throughout the day. Before reading this blog I did not know about the NETS, and I think this will help me when I am preparing lessons. There are so many avenues to explore with technology and it is ever changing! Sometimes I feel it's a challenge to constantly stay ahead and learn all that is new, but I know the outcome will be better achievement from my students when using technology in my classroom.

Noah Bartnick's picture

Great Post. This topic gets brought up often in our department meetings. This is truly an overwhelming topic to discuss. I had no idea that this set of standards existed. I plan to bring this back to my colleagues in hopes of finding better direction regarding this topic. Thanks again!

Rod McQuality's picture

As a school administrator I feel it is my job to challenge staff on using technology in the classroom. I must demonstrate I have the skills by modeling expectations for the classroom. This includes participating in blogs, using podcasts to communicate to staff and parents. Encourage staff with resources to use wikis, student response systems, mobies etc. I have also started a consulting company to assist educators with PD without leaving the classroom, planning for subs etc. Online book studies allow educators to reach other educators from all over the world in discussing educational topics. Book studies are centered around Rick Wormeli books and are moderated by professional educators. Rick even logs in when available. This is the most reasonable PD available. 15 hours of PD for up to 75 staff members for only 4K. This includes a free "Kindle" for the school to assist with technology and use during book study. See more info at www.mcqualityeducserv.com

Donna Fortunato's picture
Donna Fortunato
Fourth grade science and social studies teacher from Hubbard, Ohio

Thank you for the information that was provided in your post. I am a novice when it comes to technology and the NETS Standards will help me to beging to intergrate more technology throughtout my lessons. My building does not have an instructional technology coach so we are on are own when it comes to integrating technology in our lessons.
Donna Fortunato

Donna Fortunato's picture
Donna Fortunato
Fourth grade science and social studies teacher from Hubbard, Ohio

Thank you for posting the NETS Standards. I am going into my second year of teaching and wish to intergrate technology into my lessons. We do not have a technology coach in our building so it is up to the individual teacher to find ways to bring the technology to the lesson. The standards that are in the NETS will give me a starting point as I begin preparing for this years lessons.

Kris in Washington State's picture

Mary Beth, thank you for that summary. Many seasoned and novice teachers in our district have trained on equipment that is newer than theirs or equipment that they dont even have. I can tell you this has caused considerable staff to feel overwhelmed. This lack of resource and causes the information to feel irrelevant and unimportant when they can not utilize it.

Molly C.'s picture

Mary Beth,
I was very interested in the what you wrote about the NETS. I am a new teacher, and have had a Promethean Board for the past year. I am looking for new ways to incorporate it into my lessons. I have never heard of the NETS, but took the time to look at it after you suggested to do so. Knowing what I have to teach in the first unit, I really think that this will be very helpful to me. Thank you so much!
Molly

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