Tech Integration and Classroom Instruction

by Beth Knittle on November 12, 2012

Pre- Reading

My thoughts below are inspired by the following:

My Thoughts

I am a tech integration specialist, my title says my job is to integrate technology, presumably that means in the classroom. But I tend to think of myself more as an instructional or learning coach.  It has never been about the tools, but about the learning.  As educators I have always viewed  our role to teach the underlying skills necessary for learning.  We do this through our content areas, but it is these underlying skills that are our most important goals.

  • Research: Question, Search, Analyze, Evaluate*
  • Manage: Organize, Relate, Categorize, Sequence*
  • Collaborate: Communicate (written, oral), Critique, Analyze, Evaluate, Advocate*
  • Create: Reflect, Organize, Write *
  • Share: Communicate, Publish*

* see resources below for a more detailed list of skills.

These skills can be accomplished by low tech means as I learned in school; pencil, paper, note cards and files folders or high tech means with mobile devices, the internet, cameras and youtube.  While I was in school they did not have technology integration specialists, my teachers taught me.

My teachers taught me how to:

  • write with a pencil, to print and use cursive
  • use the library card catalog, search the microfiche, take notes, make an outline, concept maps and write a critical paper
  • write a causal, formal and business letter
  • create a paper, poster, diorama, and a book

On of my fondest memories of school was in 3rd grade creating a diorama for a book report. We spent nearly a week of class time creating figurines, coloring our shoe boxes and learned to tell a story with our projects.  We stopped learning the core content – to learn the essential skills,  communicating our understanding through visual means.

Some how a computer got in the way of that process.  A tool to assist has become an obstacle. It has become someone else’s responsiblity.  Teacher’s tend to expect student’s to already know how to effectively search the internet, use email and communicate properly online. They want students to come already knowing how to word-process, and use google docs, and make a  presentation.

Many schools have created classes for students to learn these skills so teachers do not have to take the time.  I think there are many reasons for creating these classes.  Technology moves quickly and there are so many options it can be daunting.  Standards based high stakes testing forced a focus on specific content standards and teachers do not want to divert time way from addressing them. The courses are often seen as temporary measures until teachers can catch up with the tech skills they need.  But as long as the tech, the tools, and the skills are viewed as separate instructional objectives these classes are not likely to fade away and teachers are not likely to acquire the skills they need to incorporate them into their curriculum.

These classes have mixed effectiveness as Jeff Utecht noted  “We can not teach everything “just in time” so we end up teaching everything “just in case” and then we teach kids things they might never use or teach them things that they won’t use until the end of the year.”

Ultimately it is the goal that students and teachers will learn and use the skills that naturally occur using the learning process. That the ‘computer’ will be a tool that facilitates learning, communicating, creating and sharing and not be an obstacle  If I do my job right, I should be working myself out of a job.

For Review

Project 21 Skills

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Ashley Zaworski December 1, 2012 at 6:56 am

Ms. Knittle,

After reading your blog post on technology integration and classroom instruction, I have to say that there is a lot that we both agree on. Even though technology is used everywhere and it helps us in our everyday day to day lives, it can sometimes be an obstacle and get in the way of how we want things to work.

There are some skills that technology just can’t teach and I think that’s important. Teachers should balance how much technology they use in their class with their everyday activities and assignments. I think that in order for a person to be the best teacher they could possibly be, every mean possible should be used in your teachings. Thank you for your thoughts. I loved the blog post.

Thank you,
Ashley Zaworski
University of South Alabama

Victoria Spagnoli December 11, 2012 at 10:13 am

Ms Knittle,
I have been following your blog all semester while taking a graduate course on “technology for administrators”. I have appreciated your well-grounded information about the place of technology in education today.

The list of “underlying skills” that you identify in this post is a very succinct way of orienting our thinking on how to integrate technology into the classroom. The computer, tablet, notebook, etc. are new tools to do some of the old things, as you say. I believe the more support and training that we can offer our teachers and administrators to learn to use these new tools the better our students will be at gaining these technology skills themselves. I don’t believe the computers need to get in the way, we just need to make the commitment to upgrade our skills – all of us at any level of the educator spectrum.

Thank you for the wonderful writing,

Victoria Spagnoli
University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Darius Ajama December 11, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Ms. Knittle,
What a nice post you have here. It is the duty of every teacher to bring out the best in students with methods are that are appropriate. I believe the use of technology not only engages students but pupils. Though its use should be done with care so that its not abused.
I hope to visit your blog often.Thanks.

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