I remember the day clearly. Liv bounded in the door declaring she had found a “hypoallergenic cat.” Her teacher at school had told her about a breed of cat called Ragdoll. Both of our daughters wanted a cat more than anything in the world, and they pleaded with us regularly. Unfortunately, their allergies had prevented us from making their dreams come true. Liv brought hope to our family this day. We researched the breed, talked with our allergist, and then with all our questions answered we made a cautious commitment and added a Ragdoll kitten to our family. When we brought our sweet little bundle home, we all looked at each other, “Now what?” We were all so excited to have a cat, we forgot to think about the reality of having a cat living in our home. We debated over who the kitty would sleep with, who would feed her, and who would attend to the litter box. The funniest thing was, Livi was afraid of the kitten! Ten years later and we have all adjusted to being pet owners, and we all share in the trials and rewards of having a cat, and yes, the girls’ allergies are fine!
It seems you just can’t imagine the reality until you find yourself living within your dreams. Many classrooms are finding the reality of technology in the classrooms and teachers are excited. But after the flash of excitement, teachers are asking, “Now What?” This is a critical question. Classrooms with iPads (or similar technology) add the possibility to create in ways that weren’t possible before. Technology gives us all choices and decisions to make. Big decisions.
How can we welcome technology in our classrooms? How can we assimilate technology into our classrooms while actualizing the choices technology adds? Technology provides students with choices in what they learn, how they learn, and how they will make their learning visible to others. Or, technology can be a new way of doing the same thing. Will we seek apps that allow our students to make choices in creating and sharing with others, or will we seek apps that do the same old thing in a different way?
“Technology accelerates everything including bad practice in education.” George Courous
Let’s take a look at the writing workshop. What opportunities does technology bring to writing?
- Writers connect with other writers.
- Writers can make work public through digital publishing.
- Writers have an increased opportunity to read the writing of their peers.
- Writers have the option to comment on the writing of others.
- Writers have the opportunity to receive the feedback of peers, former or current teachers, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and close family friends.
- Students can find peers with shared interests.
- Students experience what it means and how it feels to make writing public and write for an audience.
- Students learn new perspective through connections with others.
- Students have the freedom to explore and write about their interests
- Writers are able to hear a story in the voice of the author.
- Students have new possibilities to design their writing with tone, voice, and emotion personal to them.
- Writers have a new ease and convenience of fluid revising and editing.
- Teachers gain knowledge of student interests.
- Teachers have the chance to participate in conversations around student interests with the student, family, and others on an ongoing basis, not just at conference time.
- Teachers gain an understanding of the student’s point of view.
- Teachers can observe how students are generalizing and applying knowledge.
So let’s look past the flash of having technology in our classrooms and take a look at our writers, our instructional beliefs, and our practice. Let’s ask ourselves and our fellow teachers how technology enhances student learning and our instruction. Then, let’s take a close look at where our students are as children and as learners. Finally, where are we as instructional leaders of our classrooms? How do you envision embracing technology in your writing workshop? What’s your next step?
You don’t have to be tech savvy. You just have to be learning savvy. I am not that good with technology, and you probably aren’t either. Let’s all be “learning savvy.” by George Couros