Digital Doors was created as a place for me to blog and share resources that I think would be helpful for teachers integrating technology in meaningful ways in their classroom. My goal would be to write a blog post a week, but with my busy schedule, that doesn't happen. I write when I can and rely on nifty tools to help me share what I am finding when I don't have time to write.

Monday, September 21, 2009

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Asking the right questions:

One of my many hats is that of coach. As a coach, I am trained not to just tell someone how to do something, but to ask questions that encourage deeper thinking and planning. Playing the role of coach in my position with technology is not always easy. A lot of times, teachers just want and need to know an answer on how to do something. They need me to train, not coach. But as I train, I also want to coach.

The other day, someone posted the following question. "Does anyone have a good Social Studies lesson using Movie Maker?" Knowing the context, I know that this was a trainer, wanting to show examples. But it got me to thinking about those times when a teacher is excited about using a new tool and that tool becomes the focus of the lesson, not the content or the process. I decided to go to my PLN (Professional/Personal Learning Network) and ask this question. "What questions should you ask before planning a lesson using technology?" I received some great suggestions.

Many of the questions focused on setting objectives.

1. What is the learning standard being addressed.
2. What is the main goal the teacher wants to achieve?
3. What is it they should learn through technology?
4.How can we set the scene so students create, share, and rework the new information & make it their own?

Some questions were about the reason for using technology.

1. What additional skills will they learn through this tool?
2. Is this the most appropriate tool to use?
3. What tool or technique engages or delivers?
4. Why are you using technology?
5. Is the use of technology really a better student experience?

Then there were a few practical considerations.

1. How much time will it take?
2. Do you have the proper resources?
3. Have you tried this before and know what the glitches might be?
4. What is your back up plan if tech fails?

All of these are really great questions. Much of the time, technology has the power to make things more engaging, promote higher level thinking skills and encourage collaboration. These are great reasons to use technology in your classroom. But sometimes, you can reach the same objective, even better without using technology. Unless your learning target is simply to learn how to use a specific application, that should never be your first step in your lesson plan. Start with the objective, then choose the proper tools.

For some great ideas of how to include technology in your content based lessons, take a look at the Washington State Technology Standards. They have done a great job of giving suggestions of where different types of technology plug in to content area lessons in a meaningful and rewarding way. I think as you build your tech tool box, just as you have built your teaching tool box, you will begin to identify when and which tools are appropriate and powerful.

Thanks to those members of my PLN who helped me generate some great questions:
Ann Oro , Diana Laufenberg , Andy Losik , Sharon Elin, Tina, Ginger Lewman
Chad Brannon, Shannon Smith

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