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SchoolDesk Articles

This is the SchoolDesk blog/articles section where we'll periodically be posting useful information for all of the teachers, parents, staff and students who use SchoolDesk websites. We hope you all find this information useful and even pass it on to others who can benefit from it as well.

Integrating technology and curriculum

There has long been a question of how to integrate technology with curriculum requirements, so we present the following article and information to help you learn more about how SchoolDesk teacher websites and school websites, as well as local PC-based technologies, can be "integrated" with your curriculum requirements and goals.

To simplify the words “integrating technology” – we are merely suggesting that you discover ways to use computers (and websites) within the existing curriculum. Technology should not replace what you usually teach. Technology is a tool – just like a calculator, a pen, or a chalkboard – which helps you to teach and helps your students to learn. And the SchoolDesk school websites and teacher websites are meant to be just another tool in your educational tool box.

 

First: Take an inventory of your resources

The first step in determining how to integrate technology into your curriculum is to take a quick assessment of where you are in terms of technology.

1. Student Assessment: What is the technology level of your students? What can they already do and what’s their attitude toward technology? Do they have computers and Internet access at home?

2. Teacher Assessment: What is YOUR technology level? What can YOU do on a computer and how do YOU feel about using computers in the classroom?

3. Access: What is the availability (for you and your students) of computer and Internet access each week? Do you have computers available in your classroom or lab access only? How much lab time is available? How many computers are there?

4. Resources: What kinds of hardware, software, and training are available? Is there software education software (such as math drills) available? Is productivity software (such as a word processing program) available, as well? What types of training (free or paid) are available through your school or community?

 

Action: Take a moment to write down (or better yet, type out!) your thoughts on each of these points. Having an honest assessment of where you are will help with developing a plan. Even with low technology levels and few resources, you can still integrate technology into your classroom – you just need to make a plan.

 

Second: Set your goals and develop your plan

What is it that you want to accomplish? If your school or district has established expectations for technology use in your classroom, know them. If you have personal goals, make sure that you add them to your plan.

 

How to begin?

1. Get wired: Plan for internet access and a reliable computer at home. Both are fairly inexpensive if you choose low-end internet service and an older computer.

2. Get inspired: Find peers who already integrate technology, and learn from them. Observing a class will help to reinforce how it is done.

3. Get informed: Use the internet as a tool to educate yourself. Visit websites for professional organizations regularly:

a. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (http://www.nctm.org/),

b. International Reading Association (http://www.reading.org/),

c. National Education Association (http://www.nea.org/),

d. and others all provide excellent and constantly updated online resources for teachers. Use your favorite search engine (http://www.google.com for example) to look for the sites of your favorite organizations.

4. Get e-ducated: Subscribe to an email newsletter and access short and relevant articles on educating with technology. A few examples are: The Classroom Flyer (http://web.riverdeep.net/portal/page?_pageid=814,1376826&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL)

    a. Teachers.net (http://www.teachers.net)

                b. Soda Mail (http://www.sodamail.com)

5. Get Involved: Sign up for a mail list or another online dialogue, and join teachers in discussions on technology in the classroom. A few examples are:

    a. EDTECH (http://www.h-net.org/~edweb/)

    b. Tapped In (http://tappedin.org/)

    c. A to Z Teacher Stuff Forums (http://forums.atozteacherstuff.com/)

6. Get Trained: Professional Development - Use your district technology resources to receive technology training. To use the self-taught method, try one of these Websites for professional development:

    a. PBS Teacherline (http://teacherline.pbs.org/teacherline/)

                b. Internet4Classrooms (http://www.internet4classrooms.com/on-line.htm)

 

Third: Work your plan!

Some suggestions (best practices) as you begin working your plan:

1. Lead by example: Focus on using technology yourself before introducing it to your students. Make sure that you are sufficiently trained to begin. Use technology to manage your classes: For example, average grades with a spreadsheet, use mail merge to send letters to your students and parents, and surf the Internet for lesson plans.

2. Begin with baby steps: Set an initial goal of including technology in one content area or unit a month. Add something new each month. Have students write a letter with a word processing program, create a graph in a spreadsheet program, or practice math skills using content software.

3. Narrow the playing-field: Surfing students misspell site addresses and become distracted by commercial sites that they accessed by mistake. Avoid this pitfall by focusing class research using hand-picked relevant, age-appropriate websites. TIP:

Using a SchoolDesk school website or teacher website to provide links to “pre-approved” sites for your students is a great tool.

4. Online learning tools: Learn how to use WebQuests, scavenger hunts, and other online learning tools.

5. Test Online: (Again, leading by example!) Save instructional time and motivate your kids by creating, administering, and grading tests and quizzes online. TIP: Use the SchoolDesk Forms & Surveys module to create your own online tests & quizzes.

6. Remember, technology is only a tool: Technology, as powerful as it is, cannot replace face-to-face teaching. Learn to determine when technology helps – and hurts – the learning process and use it accordingly. Your curriculum, not your computer, should be the focus of technology integration.

No matter what you know – or don’t know – about technology, no matter how many computers you have, no matter how skilled your students are, you can integrate technology. Remain confident, flexible, and enthusiastic and you will succeed.

So stop for a second and think about all the ways that you could use the tools you already have at your disposal, such as your SchoolDesk teacher website or school website, to integrate your curriculum and teaching goals into your available technologies.  You might quickly find that the answers to your questions about how to better get your kids involved in the learning process (and to keep them involved!) has been right there in front of you all this time!

If you don’t already have a web presence, or your current websites are lacking the tools that you need, or the ease of use for you to understand how to use them, take a moment to let us show you how SchoolDesk (www.schooldesk.net) can do much more than just create beautiful and powerful teacher websites and school websites, and let us show you how to take your technology-based teaching to the next level.  

This information is based upon an article written by Lorrie Jackson for Education World® Copyright 2002 Education World

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