The LEGO Education Advisory Panel is a made up of 50 experienced educators across all levels who advise the LEGO group on how to meet the needs of educators and students. They recently shared strategies to help teachers implement education technology in the classroom.
1. Be sure to teach the concept that failure is an important and expected part of the process. What we learn from each failure or mistake is the important part and will lead to the next version, or improved iteration in the problem solving process. – Beth Brubaker, grades 1-8 Project Specialist, North Idaho STEM Charter Academy
I think this is one of the things we forget to teach children – that failure is also important and is a part of the learning process. As a student, my son was one of those lucky kids who had things come to him far to easy most of the time. I don’t think he really struggled with learning until the last semester of his college undergraduate studies. Part of the problem was that he didn’t really know how to study and think deeply as an academic. He was a thinker but not necessarily an academic thinker till that late in his life.
2. Remember that when lesson planning at home, you should also test any new website, app or tool on the school computers or tablets you’ll be using with students. It’s always a bummer to find out mid-lesson that the school’s filter has blocked the resource or that there are compatibility issues that must be fixed in order for it to work correctly. – Breigh Rhodes, 2nd grade, Rollins Place Elementary School
This is one of those concepts I think we all have been guilty of committing. Planning is the key to success – the old mantra of fail to plan and you are planning to fail holds true. It is important to test things out – especially when integrating technology because there are loads of variables and having a site or resource blocked by the school filter doesn’t need to be one of them.
3. Make sure to read the terms of service and privacy statement for apps and websites regarding the age of the user. Let parents know how the tool with be used in class and obtain their permission. – Leanna Prater, District Technology Resource Teacher, Fayette County Public Schools
This tip shouldn’t be a problem for teachers in the Williamson County School district since it is district board policy to vett all software and online resources prior to implementing use in the classroom.
4. Provide daily opportunities for students to be creative with technology as a tool to support curriculum objectives in a variety of ways. Students will quickly learn to use the technology made available to them as they collaborate and work to research, explore, and produce a final product or project. Student engagement involving technology is most successful when students are given the opportunity to employ technology daily in a variety of ways and create projects that show their level of content mastery. -Mary Meadows, Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator, Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School
I think this tip is probably the most important one of them all! Students are proficient users of technology for socializing and entertainment purposes. However, they don’t readily know how to use their devices as a tool for learning. So, we are charged with teaching them to do so. After all, technology is a daily part of our lives and seems to only continue to become more and more a seamless part of our lives when we utilize all the capabilities of technology.
5. Don’t solve problems for your students. Provide support, give hints, teach the basics, but try not to solve the problem for them. When I find myself operating the technology myself, I know I’m doing too much. I also tell the kids the same thing when I see them doing the work for other students, however good the intention. -John Heffernan, Technology Coordinator, Williamsburg Elementary School
Part of the learning process is becoming familiar with the tools we choose to use. We cannot become the experts in all devices as well as the facilitator for learning. So, we need to stick to being the facilitator for student learning. They have to become the experts and drive their own learning.
6. Cultivate a good (great) relationship with your technology staff. But remember, they exist to make technology work for you, not to tell you what technology is acceptable for you to use. This is a fine line to walk sometimes. -Ian Chow-Miller, Teacher, Frontier Middle School, Graham, WA
Instructional Technology Coaches are available in our district (and most other districts as well) to support teachers at integrating technology and good teaching practices in their classrooms. Call on them for support!