Thursday, January 7, 2010

Insert Foot in Mouth....

I have a routine each morning which helps me ease into the day. I get up at 5:00 a.m., make my coffee, check email and tune in to read tweets from educators and interesting psychology folks on Twitter around the globe. This morning I was a bit bleary-eyed as I answered a question from a fellow tweeter who asked: "What technology would you have in your classroom if you were given the choice?".
I pondered this for a moment, thought of the SMART board in our computer lab and how I would love to have one in my classroom, along with student computers that work!  I tweeted this answer and was met with a question: "Why?" Why would I want an interactive white board? Was this a trick question? In a kindergarten classroom, if you don't have engagement, you have chaos. With bells and whistles and tools, you can engage young learners who will do ANYTHING for a try at touching and interacting with technology. Each week we only have 30 minutes in our school computer lab and the kids are transfixed and focused; they try to read words and learn patterns just over their comfort level, and experiment with new sites and programs. It is a time in my week when every student is engaged.
I answered "student engagement" as my tweet answer and I was met with "How does a SMART board engage students?" I felt as if I had fallen into a trap. I decided to ponder my answer during my commute, got to school and answered: "in the K classroom it's all about "HOW" you use a tool; young students are very attracted to "cool" tools that they can touch". And as I had been driving to work I realized that I really need to think about my goals for my students and thoroughly evaluate which technologies would help me reach those goals. So I tweeted this: "In summary, I clearly need to explore options and think more critically about what I want; then write a proposal to get funded". I was not answered a reply at that point.

So what's my main point here? We need to discover the best tools out there and search for the means to get them in our classroom! Why?  So that we can keep our teaching relevant to kids, engaging and help them prepare for a changing world. I do believe that netbooks or other handheld tools would be great to have in class but  I disagree with some folks who say that interactive white boards are not engaging. Many highly effective teachers use the boards throughout their days, through whole class teaching as well as with small groups of kids who are highly engaged and motivated to learn. I would seek out all possible training and become a teacher who used the tool to open up her students' worlds and expose them to the many resources for learning.  If there are better tools, so be it. I am open minded and aware that I must stay educated and advocate for my kids.  I welcome the discussion that made me stop and think. But I did feel a bit like I had put my foot in my mouth..
What technology do you think a K-6 teacher shouldn't live without?

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