I love a good road trip! There’s something so satisfying about planning a journey and setting out towards a destination. Many of my favorite memories are tied up in road trips with family and friends. Some of those travels went smoothly, while others involved a few wrong turns and breakdowns. But regardless of how the trip went, it always felt good to arrive at our destination.
My technology integration experiences have felt a lot like a road trip to me. I was just going back to read through all the posts here on my blog, and it has been interesting to see where I began and where I am along the journey so far. Edutopia explains that technology integration is successful when students have daily access to a variety of tools which “match the task at hand and provide them an opportunity to build a deeper understanding of the content.” This definition has caused me to ask myself that age-old road-trip question: Are we there yet?
The SAMR model has helped me to put this journey into perspective and consider how far we’ve traveled and which direction we still need to go. The reality is that my technology road trip has not been without its challenges. I’ve definitely gotten lost and experienced a few breakdowns along the way. But I also feel good about the mile markers I’ve reached with my students as we’ve learned to integrate technology more effectively.
Where Am I Now?
Early in my technology integration journey, I was wandering a bit aimlessly and wasn’t really sure where I was headed. My efforts to use technology were limited to teaching the library catalog and using videos and websites for instruction. I tried and failed to use 1:1 iPads effectively, because everyone in the school was using different apps, and students didn’t always come prepared with the apps I needed them to use. I found it challenging to complete activities within the short time I had with my students in the Learning Commons each week. Over the past year, as I’ve read and learned through our Coetail program and participated in the iLearning initiative in our elementary, I’ve begun to find more meaningful ways to make the most of the technology available to us. Right now, I’d say I’ve arrived at Modification, though I do of course still do some Substitution and Augmentation as well.
Google Docs has become a valued traveling companion on my tech journey. Many activities which used to be paper-based have easily been modified for online use. Last year, I took our Battle of the Books online, which made it significantly easier to run, while increasing the quality of the responses I was getting from students. A simple Google Form allowed me to collect their reading responses and feedback about the books. All the responses went straight to a spreadsheet, which allowed me to collect valuable data about students’ progress and the effectiveness of the program. Recently, I used Google Forms to conduct a Reading Interest Survey of all my Grade 3-5 students. The students enjoyed taking the survey on their iPads, and now I have a great set of data that I can use to support them as readers. I was also able to quickly share that data with the students, their homeroom teachers and their parents on my Learning Commons blog. In addition to forms, Google Docs have been a great option for student work. Sharing features make it easy for students to collaborate on the same doc, and easy for me to keep track of their progress. Last year, I used Google Docs for a research template, which was a helpful tool in stepping up our research efforts.
As a librarian, I want my students to engage in meaningful discussion about their reading. Padlets have become one of my favorite tools for reading response, because it’s so quick and easy for students to tap and add their thoughts without having to log into an app. Not only does this allow me a written record of their thinking, it’s a way to get students from all of my classes connected to one another. Here’s an example of a reading response Padlet we used last year. Even better, Padlets are an amazing tool for global collaboration. We will be using them this year to share our thinking with other classes around the world during the Global Read Aloud.
Video apps have been invaluable for use during our Learning Commons specials. The students love to make videos, so we do a lot of video book reviews throughout the year. Sometimes, they also create Book Trailers on iMovie. Occasionally, they make videos to show their learning, such as these examples of Cyberbullying videos we did last year.
I haven’t done a lot with infographics yet, but I did have my 5th graders create simple reading ads last year to share what they had learned about the cognitive benefits of reading. This year, I would like to do more with infographics, as it’s a very engaging way for students to showcase their learning.
Other ways we’ve used technology:
Digital Passport program
Instructional videos online
Seesaw Digital Portfolios
While I still have a ways to go on the tech integration highway, I feel good about how far we’ve come, and I’m excited about where we’re headed.