Curate great content. We know teachers area always finding resources that will be helpful for learning. We recommend having one central place to keep all of your links to those “just right” materials, including TED talks, infographics, interactive articles, podcasts, and more. Your curation tool could be as simple as creating a spreadsheet in your Google Drive, or as sophisticated as using a curriculum canvas in Lino or a Dropmark collection.
Visit another one-to-one classroom. Someone down the hall at your school or nearby is likely further along in this process. Ask to visit their classroom and make a list of questions about what students are working on, and how the teacher facilitated those activities.
Enlist your students. The beginning of the year is a great time to ask your students about their previous experiences in digital learning. Ask them what kinds of digital projects they would like to try this year, and what workflow works well for them. They can also help you define expectations about using the devices so that you co-create a classroom culture together that supports learning and innovation.
Treat each new change as temporary. Ask your students to help you evaluate the tool or process as you make changes. This will encourage them to be metacognitive about what is (or is not) helping them learn and it will allow you to make a change if something isn’t working out. Our students love “beta testing” new tools to see what helps them learn more. They don’t even realize that giving specific critical feedback about the application is part of their learning.
Expect setbacks. Digital disasters happen, although they usually aren’t as disastrous as we fear. When the tech fails, take a deep breath, switch to a backup plan, and keep smiling. Remember that your students are watching you. The way you handle frustration and technical difficulties will be a model for them. As you learn to navigate having more educational technology in your classroom, you also get to model your learning process for your students.
With patience, practice, and perseverance incorporating digital tools into your teaching can be an exciting journey of discovery. You will find strategies that save you time, apps that engage your students, ideas that inspire, and projects that enable students to create amazing products. Have fun getting plugged in and powered up this coming school year!
Diana Neebe and Jen Roberts are the authors of Power Up: Making the Shift to one-to-one Teaching and Learning (Stenhouse, 2015). They both teach in one-to-one classrooms and coach colleagues about technology integration.
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