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Six Expert Tips for Integrating Technology into the Classroom for the First Time

new teachers

Technology is a great tool to add to your teacher toolbox. Before you make the leap into technology integration here are important tips to help you find success.

Technology is a great tool to add to your teacher toolbox. Before you make the leap into technology integration here are things to consider.

Technology Can Be Intimidating

As a new teacher (or simply a teacher new to technology!), you already have so much on their plate - from figuring out how to plan curriculum to understanding student assessment data. Using technology and digital content right away, and the right way, can be intimidating.

An experienced teacher, administrator, and instructional coach, Dr. Howard Pitler wants to give new teachers a few simple steps you can take from the get-go to confidently use technology to enhance student learning. Not to mention make your life easier!

Proven Tips for Implementing Technology

Tip 1: Avoid Google searching, especially for younger students! Asking students to Google something without pre-planning is a likely recipe for trouble. Want proof, just Google Martinlutherking.org. At the elementary level consider Kidtopia.info. At the secondary, level look at Infotopia.info. Better yet, either go to Google SafeSearch settings and turn on safe search and/or preload sites you want your students to have easy access into a classroom Diigo site and even categorize them by themes or chapters correlated to the text.

Tip 2: Technology is only a tool, not an end in itself. While technology-based activities can be engaging and fun, begin your lesson planning by identifying the learning intentions/objectives you're planning on teaching. I like stating my learning objectives as what you expect students to know, understand, and be able to do. After you have unpacked the lesson into those declarative and procedural knowledge pieces, then and only then look for technologies that will enhance the lesson.

Teacher and student using a computer

Tip 3: Room layout can make or break a technology-enhanced lesson. Be sure every screen is visible. This will enable you to effectively monitor learning by scanning the room to identify students who might be off task. I find it helpful to monitor screens by scanning the room, then use physical proximity to adjust behaviors. If you see a learner at a website that is clearly not part of the lesson, quietly walk to the student and put your hand on a shoulder or the back of the chair. You'll be surprised at how effective a simple gesture is.

Tip 4: Be sure your students know the 'why' of the activity you have designed to support the learning objective. While you might have a great reason for students to create a presentation, for example, sometimes students get wrapped up in the technology and lose sight of the objective. When creating a PowerPoint or Keynote on a topic, be sure the focus is on the topic. Students shouldn't spend more time working on the 'cute factor' of a presentation than on the content itself.

Tip 5: Content is king! The learning objective must be the overriding focus. There are times when no technology is the best technology. Technology is only one of the many tools in a good teacher's toolbox, and that's ok. Technology for technology's sake is never a good idea.

Tip 6: Don't wait to use technology until you are an expert. Some teachers avoid using technology because they are afraid that either the technology will crash on them during instruction or because they don't feel expert enough and their students might see them mess up. First, the technology WILL crash. Trust me on this. Always have a viable backup plan you can quickly switch to.

Students and teacher using iPad

Also, kids know technology blows up on occasion. It happens, so accept it and keep going. Second, it's very likely you will have several students who know more about the technologies you are trying to use than you do. They will honestly be willing to help. It is perfectly ok to tell the class,'' I am just learning this and might need some help along the way.'' Students need to see teachers as learners too. Waiting until you are the expert would be similar to waiting until you are an expert bike rider before actually getting on the bike to improve. Redefine failure in your own understanding to FAIL=First Attempt In Learning.

Technology Can Never Replace You

Technology is a wonderful enhancement. It is not a substitute for quality instruction. Learn and practice research-based instructional strategies and be sure you keep working on your pedagogy to become the best teacher you can. Even the master teachers I work with are constantly learning and growing. Technology will never replace a good teacher, but a good teacher who uses technology appropriately will replace one who doesn't.

About Dr. Pitler

Howard Pitler lives in Overland Park. KS with his wife of 43 years. He has two grown children and two wonderful grandsons. When he isn't working with educators in the USA and abroad or playing with his grandkids, he and his wife love riding his Harley Road King across this great land. You can reach Dr. Pitler at hpitler@gmail.com or through his website.

By Howard Pitler
February 2017
new teachers technology in the classroom

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