“Hmm…”

index Indeed, in all of my courses I am learning new information, skills, and trends in education, but none of them are as mentally overwhelming and stimulating as learning about the integration of technology in the classroom.

I am learning about this integration of technology in Ed. Media Apps. The integration of technology is just what it sounds like–using technology in the classroom to amplify teaching and better learning. The thing is, there are so many options out there in terms of technology. That’s the overwhelming part. I mean, a month ago, Google was just a search engine, Google+ was this boring thing my friend from Hungary showed me, and Google Docs and Drive were things we made in high school because the computers were as old as we were and apparently were prone to viruses from USB drives (What are those things even called anymore? Thumb drives? I’ve always just called them “USB’s”). Now I’m learning that Google makes virtual reality devices. When did that happen? I swear I haven’t been living under a rock. As I have stated before in this post, I didn’t see much technology while in primary and secondary school. Now that I, a future educator, am exposed to the many options and wonders of integrating technology into the classroom, it’s rather overwhelming.

Technology as a whole is making a huge impact on education. There are many ways and models to integrate technology into the classroom, such as the SAMR model. By integrating technology into the classroom, students and teachers are able to explore their subject more–and faster. Technology allows for on-demand learning. Technology opens a new world of projects. Sure, posters were always fun to make…but what about self-narrated videos?  Further, teachers should really be on the lookout with a careful eye for new technology. Not only does it keep the teacher in-touch with their students both culturally and socially, but technology as a whole probably isn’t going to disappear any time soon. Technology is what kids are used to now-a-days. Why not bring that familiarity into the classroom? As I stated before, integrating technology into teaching gives students nearly endless opportunities to learn and grow. Of course, the “old” ways of teaching with a good ol’ white board and projects made of poster board don’t have to be thrown out the window–but let’s be honest, which of the following sounds both fun and educational: making a poster about a country or researching  a country, looking up local places on Google Maps, and then making a green screen video explaining signification locations in the country? I’m not trying to swing your vote here, but I’m liking the sound of the latter option.

Now, integrating technology sounds fun, fine, and dandy, right? But..how does a teacher do such a thing? How can they if they don’t have the support or funding? Where do they start? When does technology stop becoming educational and start becoming just for fun?

Those questions overwhelm me a bit. Technology can be a wonderful thing in a classroom if it is used correctly. There are many, many things out on the Internet that are complete garbage, but there are many, many more things that are useful. It’s all about knowing where and how to look. First, you can Google it! Trying looking up educational apps for students. If there is someone out there who is knowledgeable about technology integration in the classroom (like Mrs. Brogley), consult them. Search for other teachers in your area–or not in your area–who may be having the same issues, or search for teachers who have integrating technology successfully into their classrooms and ask them how they were able to do so. Search for conferences on the topic (or many just the hashtag of a conference) and follow the conversation. Use technology to learn about technology!

 

A quick edit.

12476921_10153860481495196_821978036_oThis is a photo of the top of my bookshelf, something I prize. It consists of a block with one of my favorite sayings, a copy of the original document of citizenship from my Prussian Great-Great-Great Grandpa Burbach, dated 1860, a mini jack-o-lantern lantern, some of my most prized books that are too large for regular shelves, a teddy bear piggy bank-turned book stopper that my sister painted and gifted to me years ago, and finally a Parrot rifle model that I bought at Antietam National Battlefield. Above it is a block that reads “Once upon a time..” that I found on an Alice in Wonderland (huge Alice fan) display at my favorite bookstore.

I wanted to make that block stand out because it fits the nature of a bookshelf so well. I find the saying “Once upon a time…” to be open-ended and imaginative. That very phrase can spark thousands of thoughts. Not only does this phrase initiate creative fictional thoughts, but also has implications of an unknown past. Once upon a time, a man named Nicholas Burbach became an American citizen; once upon a time, a great civil war shook the nation…the possibilities are endless.

Technological changes in the past 10 years

Remember taking typing tests in elementary school? Remember those awful floppy disks? Remember VHS’s and VCRs? I do, and boy, I do not miss them. Elementary school for me was about as tech-less as one can imagine today. Sure, we did some learning computer games (Math Blasters, anyone?) and of course typing tests, but never did we have hands-on technology to enhance our learning. That stuff just didn’t exist! I remember movies days, when the teacher would have to go to the library and get a TV cart (of course, with a tube TV attached to it), wheel that unsightly thing into the classroom, and then place it just right at the front of the room so everyone could see it. Large screens apparently didn’t exist in the early 2000’s. Oh, and let’s not forget research projects. Say, my third grade self wanted to learn about Harry S. Truman for my social studies Presidents’ Day project. How grateful was I that my library had not one but TWO additions of World Book Encyclopedia! Of course, myself and most of my classmates dreaded those things more than chicken patty lunch days (couldn’t we have gotten an upgrade on lunch too?), but alas, no one even thought about hopping on Google to do research.

I’ve observed elementary classrooms where there are SmartBoards that the class works on together and laptops, tablets, IPads, and computers for kids to access when they please. It blew my mind to see little fingers typing as fast as myself, or swiping screens with more efficiency that I could manage. I had to take a step back and realize that a lot has changed in the past ten years.

It wasn’t until the last years of high school that SmartBoards were used throughout my school. Before that, whiteboards were the “big deal”. Of course, nearly everyone knew what a smartphone was (or had one) by the end of my senior year and most people had updated laptops. In the first two years or so of high school (2009, 2010), my computer teacher (yeah, we actually got taught computer skills and coding back then!) bought a cart of Dell laptops that could be rented out by teachers. What a lovely idea! …Except those laptops were old and practically useless when the school got them. What started as a nice start to integrating technology into the classroom turned into a flop due to poor funding and unease about change. The thing is, though, things had already changed by then and those changes were not stopping.

I suppose those changes were spurred by the evolution of information processing and communications. Let’s be honest, we like things fast and we like things immediately. Ever had a slow computer? It’s awful, isn’t it? Yet it was less than a decade ago that people were suffering through dial-up internet. Google, Apple, and Samsung have made huge leaps in technology over the years, and people are fascinated by it. It’s curiosity and convenience, really, that got people caught on the fast track of technology integration in schools. Technology is a wonderful thing. It allows us to connect to other people and ideas in a blink of an eye. It allows us to learn more information faster. It’s no surprise that teachers want to integrate SmartBoards and IPads into their classrooms. Technology makes lessons fun for everyone. It allows us to do more, see more, and be more. What’s nice about technology today is that someone has already done it. A new and creative lesson is just a Google search away!

Just me and my blog…

Welcome to my first blog post! In this post I will explain my goals for this semester, Spring 2016, what my plans for this blog is, and why, exactly, I want to be a teacher.

To begin, my main goal for this semester hasn’t really strayed from my normal goal–that is, to continue my streak of getting nothing lower than an A- in any of my classes. I’m a junior in college and have a straight A academic record. How crazy is that! Aside from that, I have nearly completed my social science requirements (sadly, and my history emphasis), so now I’m focusing on education classes. While my other classes are clearly very important, it is these education classes that really mean a lot–I’m learning things I was never exposed to. To narrow my goals a little bit more, my goal for this semester in Ed. Media Apps is to learn how to integrate technology into my future classroom. Technology is constantly moving forward, so I’m learning that if I don’t keep moving forward with it, I’ll be lost in no time!

Admittedly, I’ve never blogged before…However, I have big plans for this blog. I not only plan to express my ideas as a future educator but as a history lover as well. I also plan to establish myself in a professional manor.

I have a great passion for learning and teaching. I have always liked sharing my knowledge with others, and I have always liked explaining and teaching things (not only to feel pride in myself and the person I’m teaching, but also to help myself feel more secure with what I know). They say that in order to teach something, you have to know that material pretty well, right? My interest to learn, grow, and pass that information on to others has been a large influence on why I have decided to pursue a career in education.

I was extremely lucky to have a great social studies teacher in high school. Not only was she entertaining and knowledgeable in the classroom, she was always looking out for her students. In the middle of my high school career, I hit a rough patch—I lost my best friend for reasons I will never understand, I was stressed with my new job which pulled away my weekends and homework time, and I was just all-around not okay with the situations going on in my life. My teacher could detect those kinds of things in her students. She pulled me aside one day after class, hugged me, and listened to me as I, holding back tears, told her how I felt with my life at that moment in time. Looking back, I realize that that stress and those feelings I was feeling may have been minuscule, but to this teacher, they were not. Those few minutes changed my definition of what it means to be a teacher. Those few minutes made me realize that I want to be a teacher, one who listens and reaches out when need be—who can be trusted, while still being able to influence their students to excel in the classroom.