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Getting Started With Technology Integration in Your Classroom

Mary Beth Hertz

HS Art/Tech Teacher in Philadelphia, PA
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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.

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Comments (41) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Mary Beth Hertz's picture
Mary Beth Hertz
HS Art/Tech Teacher in Philadelphia, PA

What I think people forget, Kris is that teaching with technology is not about the tool or the equipment. The fact that the training is mismatched is very sad. I wonder if there is anything that you as teachers can do to speak up about your poor training?

As for lack of resources, I have a post coming up that will address how to integrate tech with few resources. Stay tuned!

Karla Heinemann's picture

I am relatively new to this topic. In fact, I just started a master's program in integrating technology in the classroom. I have also been a part of a professional development program involving interactive whiteboards since February. I will admit, the learning process has been overwhelming for many reasons. For one, I did not know the standards you discussed existed. I am very interested in learning more about each one. I think it will help guide and structure the learning process for me. The interactive whiteboard program has been largely focused on critical inquiry, so I think that will be a good place to start. I agree with the point you and another commenter discussed about taking the standards one at a time. I think it needs to be a "slow-but-steady" process for teachers in order to become proficient in each standard. I know that having an interactive whiteboard in my classroom has already changed the way I teach in a very short amount of time. I think with more time, research, and practice it will be very beneficial to my students. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

Dawn Rezin's picture
Dawn Rezin
Seventh grade Language Arts Teacher

There is a lot of good information here about incorporating technology and the NETS*S strands in your lesson planning. As a seventh grade English teacher, I am always looking for new ways to use technology in my classroom. The suggestion about the different ways that students can tell their stories is great! I have been researching different options and will be using several of the examples that were given here with my students this upcoming school year.

Ann Cannizzaro's picture
Ann Cannizzaro
Grade Three Classroom Teacher in Rural Maine

I am a beginner here. The NETS advice is well taken. We all need to back up what we choose to do with good reasons for why. I like the "planning backwards approach.

Shakeya Bond's picture

How can you decide whether the technology is to advance for the students, prior to introducing the new technology?

Dana Castine's picture
Dana Castine
Director of Technology Integration, Florida Union Free School District

These are great suggestions. It is so easy to get caught up in the "toys", "tools", latest and greatest website, or the flash of something new. It is so important to be sure and make the connects to curriculum, standards, and seamless integration of technology. When technology is forced, it serves no purpose and doesn't make sense. The NETS provide a great springboard to lesson and unit planning. Thanks for bringing them to light!

John Hennessey's picture
John Hennessey
US citizen working as a teacher in an international school in Asia

Mary, thank you so much for your blog.

Like you, I am also an IT teacher in an elementary school. I have been seeking ways to help more teachers within our school make better use of technology in their lessons. I really appreciate your advice to begin with the NETS*S standards. They will give me a good starting point for helping the teachers find ways to integrate technology with what they are already teaching their students.

I would be very interested to hear more about your role as an IT teacher within your school. Do you teach the students in separate IT lessons in a computer lab? Do you coach, mentor or train teachers on the possible uses of technology in their classrooms?

I teach over 400 students in 18 classes. I only see each child once a week for one 45-minute lesson. There often isn't time for them to finish during a single lesson the activities I give them. I would like the homeroom teachers to be able to continue after my lessons what I have begun with their students; however, I am yet unsure of a good way to help make this happen. The teachers use the time that their students are with me as one of their prep times, so they don't see my demonstrations of how to use the software that I am introducing to their students. The teachers have interactive whiteboards in their classrooms and have time alone with their students in the computer lab at least once a week, so they have opportunity to continue what I have begun; however, they usually use the time to have their students do other things, like use Google to do research or type a story or article they have written. If the teachers were to sit in on my lessons, they would be able to use the tools I am introducing to follow up on my lessons, plus use them in other ways later. I have asked a colleague how she thinks the other teachers would respond if I were to suggest that they attend my lessons. She didn't think it would go over well; they are already extremely busy, so they likely wouldn't appreciate losing one of their prep times. This is understandable, but I don't see any better way of helping them to better integrate technology with what they are already teaching their students. Any advice you can give on what I can do to encourage the teachers to better integrate technology in their lessons would be much appreciated.

Carrie Zimmer's picture
Carrie Zimmer
Technology Integration Specialist for the American School of Milan

John, perhaps we could share ideas as well. It is my first year in a position as Tech Integration and are experiencing some of the same issues you mention above. Feel free to email me at

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