If you have been teaching for a long time, making changes can be difficult and even intimidating. Sometimes it’s easier to close the door to the classroom and do what you have always done instead of worrying about whatever next “big thing” is coming along. Things, after all, are always changing and maybe it’s impossible to keep up with it all.
But today technology is significantly impacting how our students engage and process information more than ever. Consider how in the last decade our chalkboards have been replaced with LCD projectors and smart boards. Grade books are accessible by students and parents online 24/7, graphing calculators are now available as downloadable apps on smart phones, and students communicate in a dozen different ways using as many different modes of technology from email and texting to Facebook, chat, and Skype. Textbooks, magazines, novels and newspapers are no longer limited to the paper and ink media of the past several centuries. In 2011 Amazon announced that digital eBooks for their popular e-reader, the Kindle, outsold hardcover books at a rate of 105 eBooks for every 100 printed books.
But where do you begin? How do you get started without getting overwhelmed? My suggestion–begin with just one new thing each month, starting on February 1, 2012. February 1st is Digital Learning Day which organizers call “a culminating event in a year-round national awareness campaign to improve teaching and learning for all children.” It is an important opportunity to commit to trying something new—especially if you’ve been slow to change. Begin with small steps—explore some of the many ideas on the DLD website, and commit to it by joining the Digital Learning Day movement.
In the Classroom
Take one project students might traditionally have used a poster board to complete and instead have them create an online poster with Glogster. Glogster is a fee and easy tool to use online to create visual displays using graphics. You can start from scratch or use a template. This is one of the many ideas you’ll find at DigitalLearningDay.org. I’ve included a link to a Glogster tutorial from YouTube below.