During my 3 years teaching HS French I slowly incorporated more and more technology into my units (with the help of awesome colleagues). As I look back on how and why I integrated technology, I keep coming back to collaboration. The days that stick out in my mind (and also seemed to have the biggest effect on my students) were the lessons where they were able to collaborate – with their peers in class or with other students outside of our school walls.
Technology allows us to collaborate in a way that was not possible before. Technology is truly redefining the way we work with others…and that’s what it’s all about, right? No matter what you teach, where you are or how old your students are you can help them make connections to people around the world. Their ‘peers’ are no longer just the students sitting next to them in class each day. The teacher no longer has to be the only ‘sage on the stage.’ There are classrooms and experts out there waiting to connect and collaborate.
One (and maybe only?) thing drawing me back to the classroom is the chance to help my students make connections and learn about the world around them. So in my current position, helping teachers find ways to collaborate and connect with other classes around the world is probably my favorite topic of discussion and biggest passion. I wish more teachers would step outside their comfort zone and put “flattening” their classroom at the top of their priority list…the learning objectives and standards will come.
As we put more technology into the hands of students and teachers we need to CHANGE what our classroom looks like (thanks Jeff L!). It’s not going to be easy. But luckily it can be free. While I think projects like Flat Classroom are great, you don’t have to pay lots of money to get out there and find ways for you and your students to collaborate and connect. Wikis are free. Blogs are free (if you find the right ones). Google Apps for Education is free (if you’re non-profit). Twitter is free. Skype is free. Do you get the point? Start talking to other teachers and make exploring outside the 4 walls of your classroom a priority.
I recently ‘hungout’ with a few principals in my former district to discuss virtual field trips and thought the topic fit quite nicely with this post 🙂