This is my 12th year teaching. For the first four years, I taught Drama, so my use of technology involved DVD players, body mics, a sound system, spotlights, and stage lights. I often used an overhead projector and an LCD projector. Since I began teaching English, 7 years ago, I have gradually included more technology in my teaching. Until a couple of years ago, that technology was almost entirely used by me. I hosted a class website, and projected notes, and occasionally presentations or videos, from my computer. However, I rarely had the students use technology. Part of that was because I didn’t have any computers in my classroom, and we shared one computer lab between the 47 teachers at our school. It seemed pointless to even try scheduling the computer lab for anything but research and typing essays. For the past 3 years, however, I have used technology somewhat more. For instance, I have tested out Edmodo and MyHaiku class and decided that they are not for me. Google Classroom, however, I like, and I have been using Google Docs for 3 years. Since starting my Edtech Master’s, I have realized even more how little I truly use technology for instruction or student products. I have had glimpses over the years, insights about how technology could be useful in certain situations, but when I tried to act on those insights, classroom management became a nightmare. This past week, for instance, I tried to create centers for my students so that they were all occupied and could rotate through using my 9 classroom computers to finish enrolling in Google Classroom and Newsela and to complete an assignment in Newsela. Every center, regardless of how easy I thought it was, required my help and I spent most of my time racing between helping students work on a literature assignment or assemble portfolio folders, and resetting students’ passwords so they could logon to my Chromebooks. I have tried for years to differentiate my instruction, and I see how technology can help, but my classroom management has not caught up with my instructional vision.
For several years, I have wavered between accepting/merging a couple of educational theories. I’m not sure to which I subscribe most right now. One of the changes I wish to see as a result of my experiences in EdTech 504 is to decide what I actually believe about educational theories and arrange my students’ classroom experiences accordingly. While I don’t love direct instruction, I do feel that it has its place, but I feel like it takes over. I feel the same way about student constructed learning activities. Neither seem to get to the core of what I feel my students need. My feelings about technology use go along the same lines. I waver between wanting students to use technology as much as possible, and wanting students to do many things the “old” way with physical books and paper and pencil. I hope that this course can help me decide a path to take and allow me the peace of mind to stick with that path once I begin down it.
Because I am one of the few teachers who has tried several different technologies and web 2.0 capabilities, I am often looked to as someone who “knows” technology. As a result, the office staff and administrators often recommend teachers to me when they have questions or problems with their computers or with the software we use, especially if those teachers use a PC. This reputation has allowed me to influence some of the decisions my school has made about purchasing subscriptions to online programs, as well as to convince my fellow ELA teachers to try new assignments using technology. Last spring, I was able to convince my school to subscribe to Newsela as a result of my experiments with it. I hope that my experiences in the EdTech program and with my own experiments with technology in the classroom will lead others to test different technologies in their instruction as well.