Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Tech Tip Tuesday: Incorporating Technology into Instruction

This week's tech tip Tuesday is a little different- instead of discussing a specific app, website, or tool, I'd like to answer one of the most commonly asked questions I hear from the teachers in my tech focus groups: "How many new tech tools should I try at a time?"

There is no hard-and-fast answer to this question, but it depends on several factors:

  • Age of students
  • Technological exposure
  • Complexity of technology
Age of students
Students at younger ages often have less exposure to technology than older students who may have their own devices, laptops or phones. Younger students also need more practice with common procedures to ensure technological fluency

Technological exposure
Students who have exposure to tech at home and use it on their own are likely more technologically proficient and will be able to pick up new apps, programs, websites and procedures more quickly. These students can be great helpers in the classroom!

Complexity of technology
The more complex the app or tool, the more practice and support students will need before working independently with it. 

My basic recommendation to teachers are:
  • Implement one tool at a time and spend as much time as needed until students are accustomed to it and able to work independently with it before introducing a new tool
  • Use tools you've introduced consistently so that students stay accustomed to it. It does neither you or them any good to introduce a tool and practice using it only to never use it again
  • Determine which apps you will use for which purposes, organize them into folders on your desktop or devices and let students know how they are organized. When you say, "We're going to do a quick assessment," they will know to go to the assessment folder.
  • Prioritize the tools you will use and teach them in the order of most important/useful to those which are used least often.
Why is this good for ELLs?
ELLs are already functioning in and learning a new language, in addition to new content all day long. New technology procedures on top of that can be stressful if too many new tools are taught at once. Pacing out the introduction of new tools gives students- especially ELLs- plenty of time to learn and get comfortable with a tool before having to learn a new one.

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