Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tech Integration - An Easy First Step

This a great post by Bill Ferriter a sixth grade ELA teacher from North Carolina. He posts a sentiment I have long agreed with:  technology has promised to fix education for 25 years and it has yet to do so. The only thing that will is great teaching.

What kids want is to be social, to share and to work together - is that really any surprise?  That is how we are hard wired to survive, that's how humanity evolved, in tribes - live together or die alone.

So the biggest tech improvement I think any teacher can make this year is the most basic:  move the desks. Allow conversation, allow collaboration. Then once you get to know the students, add in the technology that would best fit their needs; not the other way around.

My principal shared our state testing results earlier this week.  If my districts annual state test scores showed anything it's what we already know:  the kids are dying alone. Moving the desks together and allowing conversation isn't going to lower our scores.

When I am evaluated this school year on tech integration in my classroom I hope my evaluator takes into account that I integrate technology everyday. I leverage the power of sharing and communicating; our species greatest innovation.


  1. Moving the desks in not a tech improvement. It may create a better learning environment but it is not in and of itself a tech improvement. Beyond moving the desks and allowing conversation and collaboration, WHAT technology are you considering implementing and HOW ---that is what is being evaluated. Great teaching alone will not fix our education system woes; great teaching, which integrates the technology that students need to be competitive in the 21st century, is what is needed.

  2. Dear Anonymous,
    Thank you for your comments. You have really made me think again about my original post and the definition of technology.

    Having double checked myself, I have to conclude that in the above argument you are using a non-existent definition of technology. Per a highly referenced article on wikipedia: In 1937, the American sociologist Read Bain wrote that "technology includes all tools, machines, utensils, weapons, instruments, housing, clothing, communicating and transporting devices and the skills by which we produce and use them."[5] Bain's definition remains common among scholars today, especially social scientists.

    Many other definitions of technology are commonly available and at no point in time do they define technology as something that needs to be plugged in, charged or turned on. So, by definition, re-orienting the desks in a classroom to take advantage of the social nature of our species is a technological improvement over sitting in rows, trapped in our own development.

    If you have a chance please comment again. Proper manners though would dictate that you not hide behind anonymity when leaving feedback.


  3. While allowing conversations and collaboration it's just as important to facilitate the conversations and provide sentence stems. As educators and parents (or adults that deal with children and adolescents), we know that these learners often think that we know what they mean even when they have not stated exactly what they meant.

  4. Anonymous wrote:

    Great teaching alone will not fix our education system woes; great teaching, which integrates the technology that students need to be competitive in the 21st century, is what is needed.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Here's the thing, Anonymous: I've NEVER heard a business leader say that they couldn't find enough employees that didn't know how to use the latest gizmos and gadgets.

    They're not struggling to find people who know how to use this Internet-thingy or who have heard about what videoconferencing is.

    They're not clamoring for people who can use Interactive Whiteboards or who know how to Tweet.

    What they're clamoring for is people who can solve problems collaboratively or who are great communicators. They're looking for people who understand how to be persuasive or who can spot trends in data and who can manage information efficiently.

    Sure, those are things that can be done more efficiently with digital tools -- but to suggest that they CAN'T be done WITHOUT digital tools is nothing short of foolish.

    Heck, guys like Aristotle and Socrates had good instruction figured out long before anyone invented digital gizmos and gadgets.

    David's got this right: Our first step towards improving instruction in a digital world is remembering that technology does nothing except enhance good instruction -- not the other way around.

    Hope this makes sense -- and GREAT bit, David.

  5. Teachers utilize the power of new and emerging visual learning and teaching technologies to maximize learning experiences for students.So far no one has really done much. We wont say yet "Yeah this is amazing gadget for teaching"
    Just wait and watch.