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Twenty Everyday Ways to Model Technology Use for Students

Heather Wolpert-Gawron

ELA Teacher, Middle School, Curriculum Coordinator TOSA
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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 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 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.

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Comments (19) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Hope's picture
High School Science Teacher

A document camera is a fatastic tool for any teacher. Not only do I use my document camera to show student work, but also to post bell ringers, model note taking activities, review assignments, and to assist in labs (as I teach science). Currently my students are completing a small project that requires them to have a visual, many chose to use the document camera to share their visual. A document camera is well worth the cost.

Mary Laubenstein's picture
Mary Laubenstein
9th & 10th Grade English teacher

Whether it's called modeling or integrating, there are many teachers out there who will benefit from such a useful and specific list of ideas about technology in the classroom. Just reading your list started me thinking about my own classes, and how I could use some of these ideas. From having students help with setting up the classroom in the morning, to the whole concept of ThinkAloud, it is my intention to take this list to my fellow English teachers at our next PLC. Thank you for your thoughts!

mel1234's picture
k teacher

Thanks for sharing several tools for modeling technology in the classroom. I never thought to share children's work under the document camera---so simple, yet so effective!! A former professor of mine once said that if the teacher's hand is on the mouse, then technolgoy wasn't being used correctly. After reading your blog, I feel that this teacher was incorrect. You have provided several ideas to use teachology. I play on taking this back to my fellow teammates who still struggle with technology and sharing some of the simple ways to use technology in the classroom.

Thanks for sharing!

Stacey's picture
Middle School Social Studies teacher, Bismarck, ND

I think teachers sometimes get so intimidated by incorporating technology into the classroom that they fall back on the simplest form, stick the student in front of a lab computer and that will count for tech time. I absolutely love this list of suggestions. If an educator wants to slowly start incorporating new technologies, it provides multiple resources and even the most technologically challenged, should be able to find something on this list to try out. Students love seeing us try new things and truly appreciate when we try to connect with them using current tools. So, even if it is uncomfortable for the teacher, I say "break out of your comfort zone and try something new, you might just enjoy the experience"!

Rachel Cline's picture

Thanks for sharing these ideas! I use technology a lot in my classroom. It was nice to see some ideas of how to model the use and set up of technology in the classroom and now just doing an activity. #3 talked about having a "tech-crew." Everything I use stays in my room, so I don't have to set up everyday, but I do have a "tech-crew" for when I have a substitute teacher. I always make sure a few students know how to turn the projector on, how to get the smart notebook software going if it happened to close, and how to do various things in the smart notebook program. This has been very helpful because I have had a few subs who did not know how to use the smartboard, and my whole entire math lesson is on the smartboard. I really enjoyed #12. I am always trying out new things while the students are watching. They always have suggestions about pushing this button or asking what would happen if we did this/that. #20 is also very important! Since I normally use my smartboard everyday, I always have to have a back-up plan. It rarely happens, but when it does, the lesson has to go on. The kids always try to convince me to let them play games..BUT lessons can be taught without technology if need be! :)

Connie's picture
First grade teacher from Minnesota

I teach in a district that has just updated its technology. We now have interactive white boards, document cameras, projectors, and 8 student computers in each classroom. We also have teachers iPads and access to an iPad cart for student use. It is so helpful to come across lists of ways to use this technology. Reading through the blogs is also so helpful, it is amazing to see how many ways teachers have found to use the technology available to them.

Rachel's picture
Grade 9 LA teacher from Grande Prairie, Alberta

Often when it comes to technology in the classroom it is sometimes difficult to view it beyond what students should be doing. Your blog has really provided me with some great ideas to ensure that I am utilizing technology daily with my instruction. I do use the SMART board as much as possible for instruction; however, I really enjoyed your suggestion for a doc camera to share student writing. Thanks for sharing!

DNadlonek's picture

You offer great tips on how to model appropriate use of technology. While students are exposed to computers and technology, they are not being taught how to organize their information or how to utilize the power of the web. It is our job as educators to teach students about copyright infringement and how to communicate with the millions of people on the web appropriately.

After modeling how to use technology like you have described in your post, it would be great to hand the power over to students. Instead of finding the videos to introduce a concept, put the students in charge. Once teachers are comfortable with technology in the class, it is fun to assign topics to students and have them create videos to share with the class to introduce ideas and concepts.

Technology is a great tool and resource! It is important to model for students the appropriate use, but it is also important to give them a chance to practice using the technology themselves.

Great post! Thanks for sharing your ideas on how technology can be modeled daily!

Matthew Kitchens's picture
Matthew Kitchens
Seventh-grade reading/ELA teacher from Ennis, Texas

Great post. I really like the idea of having a student "tech crew" set up tech equipment. Here are a couple of posts from my own blog that highlight low-tech ways to integrate technology:

Fun and Easy Way to Introduce Blogging and Netiquette Concepts

"Facebook Updates" Facilitate Active Listening During Story Time

Emily Hovest's picture

As educators, it is our job to prepare students for the world outside of school. In order to do this, they must be advanced in their use of technology. Often we find ourselves doing most of the work, getting everything set up, searching the web for what we want to find before class... these are all things we need to model for our students. We think of them as time wasters, and we try to have them set up before class so that we can make the most out of our class period. However, showing and modeling for students how to do these things is another way of getting them engaged in the learning process. Many students know what a powerpoint presentation looks like, but putting one together is a different story. In addition, if we asked students to look up a topic on the internet, would they know how to do it? We need to model what we want our students to do, and explain how it is done. Integrating technology into the classroom goes beyond the use of an interactive board. It also includes media services, such as test, image, and audio. To better enhance the learning of our students and to prepare them for life out of the classroom, we must model the effective ways we can utilize technology and all it has to offer.

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