Danesa Menge, Karen Taylor
Karen Taylor and Danesa Menge teach about technology at CTA workshops and conferences. They started the Tech Learning Community project through the CTA Teacher Leadership Cohort. Their website and the professional development offered there are a collaborative effort between CTA, Tracy Educators Association, and Oakdale Teachers Association. We asked them to discuss this question: What should educators know about technology and implementing Common Core standards into their teaching?
Danesa: I have been teaching since 2002, and the one thing I can say about implementing anything is that you don’t have to do it all. Choose one technology piece that interests you. Whether it’s Google Docs, TodaysMeet, SMART Notebook, Padlet, Nearpod, whatever, choose one and go for it. You and your students may love it, or you may fall flat on your face. But that is OK!
We as teachers need to take our successes and failures and model each to our students. F.A.I.L. = First Attempt In Learning. We can't learn without mistakes. So if something didn't work, try another and build your tech repertoire as you learn. Your students will learn the value of mistakes and perseverance in this process as well. Karen and I built technology into our classrooms a piece at a time, not overnight.
Karen: Right. Teachers do not have to become masters of technology overnight, or even within a year’s time. Today we are breaking away from teachers knowing absolutely everything. Our role is changing as we become facilitators in our classrooms. With that in mind, we can provide parameters and guidelines for assignments and let our students create with less direct instruction and more constructivist learning models, especially in regard to technology.
So let your students play with the technology before you use it. Students need time to explore at any age, and this will alleviate frustration later with distractions and classroom management.
Danesa: Our students are not necessarily good at technology; our students are simply fearless. So why do so many teachers try to figure out Common Core and/or technology on their own? We educators are better together. The more we collaborate, share, and open our doors to one another, the more we will learn and grow. I’ve been on Twitter for professional development for about two years now. In an instant I meet teachers who want to share, answer questions, ease fears. We feel a sense of true togetherness.
We need this open collaboration at our sites, in our districts, and regions. Start a professional learning community at your site or district. Reach out to one another, share what you know, and tackle what you don’t know together! I wouldn’t be where I am today without the amazing teachers I connect with on a daily basis, in person and online.
Karen: The new CCSS cannot be taught separately; they must be taught collectively. You will find this takes the strain off you for time. And the standards integrate so well that you can teach a weeklong unit with grades 5-7 standards in a way that makes sense. They also work better in regard to spiraling. If you attempt to teach the new standards one at a time, you will never get through them all. Apps like Subtext allow you to do this seamlessly in the language arts classroom.
Danesa: Technology simply enhances learning and curriculum, not overshadows it. When the opportunity arises, allow your students multiple options, or a menu, for the use of technology. Ones you know well and ones you may not. Your students will let you know what works. Give them opportunities to help you select or suggest tech ideas for lessons. Have your students become experts in areas and teach their peers. Your students are one of your best tech resources! And they want to be!
Karen: Keep an open mind! You don’t have to be a tech wizard to integrate technology into your classroom, especially when you are trying to learn new standards at the same time. Seek out a teacher who is already trying this out and collaborate or ask for ideas. We are all peers, and we need to support each other through this exciting change that is happening in the educational system.
Danesa: Remember, you’re not the first or the only one attempting the integration of Common Core and technology. We are all in this together, and together is always better.
Back to Main Page