My use of technology has proven to be of greater purpose in these past few years than any year previously. When I was in my first few years of teaching, I used technology to enhance student learning. Oh, we’re finished learning about Ancient Rome? Great! I’ll book us some time in the lab, or check-out the laptop cart and we’ll start working on a PowerPoint or PhotoStory.

Oh geez! What was I thinking? Technology to ENHANCE student learning? No, Angela. No! Relax, everyone. I’ve put the stone age behind me and am now using technology for student learning, period. I’ve mentioned previously that technology is now a must-have tool in the classroom, not something fun we get to do when we’ve finished our work. Much like King, in Liz Dywer’s GOOD article, I recognized “that tech literacy is a must-have 21st century skill, and all students need it, regardless of economic background.”

Technology is so much of a must-have, that the good people at my school have developed a tech boot camp, where students are led through various tutorials to help them get situated and set-up with all of the technology that they are expected to use throughout the year (blogging, iTunes account, digital citizenship, etc.). My colleague and fellow COETAILer have been discussing a possible Course 5 project to add to this boot camp, based on our learning from COETAIL, but more on that hopefully later.

A few snapshots from the #spitzleewedding

A few snapshots from the #spitzleewedding

I am moving back into the classroom next year and I’m excited to use Twitter and Instagram in the classroom. I want my students to feel like they have a voice and that they are heard, not only in my classroom, but as global citizens. We’ve focused so much on global citizenship this year, that I’d like to carry it over with my students next year, too. Maybe it’s the geek in me, but finding and using a hashtag that isn’t used for anything is fun! My husband and I have our own hashtag that we use on Instagram pictures (#spitzlee, look for us!) and created a hashtag for guests to use from our wedding (#spitzleewedding, check it out!). It’s exciting to show students that social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram can be used for good, that we can learn from others all over the world, and that it’s educational– much like this woman did for her students in the video below.

I’m so fortunate to be at a place where we are constantly being offered in house professional development with the millions of ways we can use technology in the classroom, but even if I weren’t- that’s the beauty of social media! If there’s a question I can’t find the answer to, I use the right hashtags and tweet it out. Eventually, I’ll find an answer!

We are a Google Apps school and use Apple devices. We try to encourage our students to do everything in the cloud. If they’re drafting a paper, use Google docs. If you’re working out a math problem, use whatever app you’re most comfortable with on your iPad. We even have students creating flashcards for word study words on the iPad. They create student-centered definitions for their words and input pictures into Educreations or Explain Everything. It’s a beautiful thing!

I’m a huge fan of screen casting and hope to do more of that next year. There’s nothing better than when a student is able to explain his thinking and provide evidence that backs up his thoughts and/or learning. Actually, I take that back. What’s better is when another student watches the first student’s screencast and has an aha moment or learns something new from it! Nothing better!

I still have much to learn and am excited for all of the learning. Good thing I’m a lifelong learner, otherwise this would be a long ride!