During the day, I teach in a laptop school, which means that we as a faculty are encouraged to think about integrating technology into our teaching in as many useful ways as we can. We are even lucky enough to have a tech department on campus to assist us, but I think that many times, I use them most often to put out fires (viruses, faulty equipment) and not often enough to really integrate technology into my classroom practices.
Almost at the end of my second year, I think I’ve done a fair job of integrating technology into my teaching. I am very available to my students over email for questions or comments on a draft, and I also make myself very accessible to parents over email. Students often submit materials over email, which is also part of our school’s mission to be as paperless as possible. I have a lot of materials on my faculty website, and we often use them in class, including a number of webquests I’ve either assembled or acquired to begin many of the units (though there are more I’d like to use from that site). With my juniors this year, I did a Gatsby Facebook project. For next year, I have student blogging plans, which I’ve only done before with college students, but I’m also excited about using a Microsoft program called OneNote a lot more.
We recently had a speaker come to talk to us about this program, and since then I’ve been going kind of nuts with it. There are a lot of ways in which it can be useful, and Microsoft seems to have put a lot of effort into encouraging people to try it out, especially us teachers. There are also a lot of functions I haven’t used yet, like audio files, notes, screen clipping, etc, but I have set up a notebook for each grade I teach, plus a personal one, plus a recipes one, and finally a teaching portfolio. I’ve also gotten into the habit of sending a lot of my documents and links into OneNote notebooks, and am thrilled with how handy it is so far.
One of the major aspects of OneNote is being able to share notebooks with other users of the program, and also to make those notebooks password-protected so that only the users can access them. Next year, I’m thinking about having each student set up a OneNote notebook that is shared with me. Not only could I then add documents, links, videos and more to their notebooks before a class, but I could also check in on their note-taking, and add audio comments to any materials they were working on in there. I’m also looking for inspiration for other ways to use it, like this huge blog post on ways to teach with OneNote, including templates and ways to use OneNote as e-portfolio.
It’s a constant struggle to integrate technology in ways that are appropriate without letting the tech obscure the teaching, and without going for the new shiny gimmick even though it doesn’t do much to enhance pedagogy and comprehension. I definitely look to other teachers for inspiration, and I know my teaching is better because of the many resources I’ve found on the Internet. I’m hoping that as I grow more and more experienced as a teacher, I don’t lose my curiosity about technology, and continue to seek new ways to use it.