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Summer Resolution: Start Class Tech-Ready

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For many teachers, integrating technology into the classroom is tricky. There isn’t always enough professional development to make educators feel comfortable with technology as a learning tool.

Debbie Fucoloro, Ph.D., an instructional technology manager in the St. Louis area, understands. Through her research, her blog and her work moderating Twitter chats, Fucoloro knows that once teachers are armed with knowledge, they understand that technology can improve learning and they know they can make it work.

“I was a teacher before technology really got into school,” Fucoloro said. “I was interested in it because it made things so much easier.”

Technology makes students are more engaged and allow lessons to be easily tailored to learning styles or levels.

Want to tap into the power of technology next year? Here are Fucoloro’s recommendations for your summer. And, don’t worry, this will be fun.

Make New Friends

There are teachers out there who are doing this. They want to share their experiences with you. Really.

Fucoloro sees it all of the time on educational Twitter chats.

“That what I like about Twitter,” she said. “You can learn so much every day. There are so many good, good people who really care about education there.”

Check out hashtags and chats like #moedchat — the Missouri-specific education chat Fucoloro helps moderate. 

Fucoloro also recommends following hashtags for conferences that you can’t attend. Often the handouts, presentations and other information from conferences will be posted on Twitter.

Fucoloro suggests reaching out directly to people who are tweeting about projects that interest you.

“If you direct-tweet to someone, you’ll get an answer,” she said. “There are a lot of people who are passionate about technology and are educators and want to share their ideas.”

The best thing about summer Twitter development? You can dip in and out on your own time, checking in on hashtags or sending messages at 1 a.m. if that’s what works for you.

There are tons of hashtags and chats going on. Don’t be overwhelmed. Fucoloro recommends checking out www.cybraryman.com/chats to find a group that fits your interests.

Document What You Love

What are you doing this summer? Working in the garden between summer school classes? Volunteering in the community or abroad? Packing the kids into the car for a trip? Document it.

“If you are already taking pictures, try to share them in different ways,” Fucoloro said.

This is a way to get comfortable with the technology, to integrate it into your own life.

“Try using presentation tools,” she suggested. “Do it from your own interests, like a sports team or recipes.”

“The more you explore something from your interests, the more it will show you how it can be used,” Fucoloro said. “You’ll be able to see how you can incorporate it into you learning.”

“You don’t have the kids around,” she said. “You can play at your own speed.”

Take advantage of the summer and your own interests to master a new skill. Once you learn one piece of software, Fucoloro said, you’ll find the user interface on related software will seem similar because the platforms have so much in common.

Letting Go

For all of the ways you can learn technology and create ideas to bring it into your classroom, there is one big lesson Fucoloro would like teachers to learn:

“You don’t have to be the expert,” she said.

That’s right. Letting go a bit can help you in the classroom next year.

When you bring technology in, be armed with your knowledge of what it can do (make videos, say) and what you want students to learn (show mastery of a topic) and then let go.

Drop the anxiety. Chances are your students have already played with an iPad. They are probably on social media. They know this stuff.

“There’s no need for all of the anxiety,” Fucoloro said. “Kids get this stuff. Have fun with it.”

That’s what comes with a good assignment using tech tools.

“When the kids are truly engaged, they know they have parameters, they know what they have to do and they are pretty focused,” Fucoloro said. “It’s simple to just get out of the way.”

What to Know More about Fucoloro?

Follow her on Twitter at @debbiefuco. Check out her blog at www.theeducatorscafe.com.

 

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