Ms. Paul's Tech Tips

Technology Coach Newsletter-August-September

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What is Successful Technology Integration?

Technology integration is the use of technology resources -- computers, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, digital cameras, social media platforms and networks, software applications, the Internet, etc. -- in daily classroom practices, and in the management of a school. Successful technology integration is achieved when the use of technology is:

  • Routine and transparent
  • Accessible and readily available for the task at hand
  • Supporting the curricular goals, and helping the students to effectively reach their goals

When technology integration is at its best, a child or a teacher doesn't stop to think that he or she is using a technology tool -- it is second nature. And students are often more actively engaged in projects when technology tools are a seamless part of the learning process.

Defining Technology Integration

Before we can discuss how to shift our pedagogy or the role of the teacher in a classroom that is integrating technology, it is important to first define what "technology integration" actually means. Seamless integration is when students are not only using technology daily, but have access to a variety of tools that match the task at hand and provide them the opportunity to build a deeper understanding of content. But how we define technology integration can also depend on the kinds of technology available, how much access one has to technology, and who is using the technology. For instance, in a classroom with only an interactive whiteboard and one computer, learning is likely to remain teacher-centric, and integration will revolve around teacher needs, not necessarily student needs. Still, there are ways to implement even an interactive whiteboard to make it a tool for your students.

Willingness to embrace change is also a major requirement for successful technology integration. Technology is continuously, and rapidly, evolving. It is an ongoing process and demands continual learning.

"Effective integration of technology is achieved when students are able to select technology tools to help them obtain information in a timely manner, analyze and synthesize the information, and present it professionally. The technology should become an integral part of how the classroom functions -- as accessible as all other classroom tools."-- NATIONAL EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY STANDARDS FOR STUDENTS, INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION

When effectively integrated into the curriculum, technology tools can extend learning in powerful ways. These tools can provide students and teachers with:

  • Access to up-to-date, primary source material
  • Methods of collecting/recording data
  • Ways to collaborate with students, teachers, and experts around the world
  • Opportunities for expressing understanding via multimedia
  • Learning that is relevant and assessment that is authentic
  • Training for publishing and presenting their new knowledge

Station Rotation Model by: Catlin Tucker

Station Rotation Model

The Station Rotation Model does exactly what the name suggests–students rotate through learning stations either on a fixed schedule or at the teacher’s discretion. At least one of the stations must be an online learning station for this to be considered a blended learning model.

Learning stations are not a new concept in education, so this is an easy model for teachers who are shifting from a traditional teaching model to a blended learning model. Teachers can use this model within a traditional classroom setting by simply breaking students into small groups and having them rotate through different stations set up around the classroom or rotating the whole class through a series of learning activities.

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I find it’s helpful to sketch out my stations on paper and ask myself the following questions:

  • What is the objective of each station? Will students produce something?
  • How much time do students need in each station? How long will they have to transition between stations?
  • What materials do they need in each station? How many devices are needed for the online learning stations? Do they need any special programs, apps, or software?
  • What will be the cue for them to transition to the next station?
  • Will directions be frontloaded, provided in written form at each station, or presented via mini-video tutorial at each station?

The online component can take many forms ranging from students using dynamic creation tools to researching topics to using adaptive software depending on the objectives of the lesson. However, the addition of an online component requires that teachers have access to technology in some form or another to execute the Station Rotation Model in their classrooms. I don’t have any actual hardware in my classroom, so I have to use student devices or arrange to take my students to one of our computer labs on campus.

As a teacher, it takes more time to plan this style of lesson; however, the benefits far exceed the challenges. I love being able to work with small group and provide real-time feedback, answer questions, lend support, or direct students to an online resource. Students also enjoy the freedom they have as learners in this model. I am not hovering over them or controlling the pace of their learning. They are driving the learning, which is much more powerful for them.

A teacher does not have to use the Station Rotation Model for every lesson, but it is an easy way to explore the benefits of blending online work with face-to-face interactions to create smaller learning communities that are student-centered.

Some Ideas that I have learned along the way

As I worked to use 25 cloud books into my 4th grade classroom, I tried to always make sure

  • students understand technology as a TOOL and not a TOY in the classroom
  • the use of technology is meaningful to the lesson/subject matter (No technology for technology's sake)--Look at your lesson plans from last week. Where could you have used technology for ONE lesson? Build from this point.
  • the right tech tool for the job is being used
  • you include technology expectations in your class policies and procedure and review them briefly before using tech
  • you understand the district's acceptable use and share it with your students


  • consider having a student tech manager (They often can assist others when you are busy with a small group or other technical issue.)
  • assign each student the same device number each class day during a project
  • have tech check-ins (10 to 15 second period of time where students can update a status or whatever)
  • make available apps or websites that you have pre-approved where students can "play" if they finish an assignment early
  • have a consistent terminology letting students know when it is okay to use personal devices
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There are some things you are going to have to understand and accept
  • sometimes children learn from the technology more than they would learn from me
  • you cannot possibly know everything there is to know about every app and tech tool makes you human not an inadequate teacher
  • asking students to help you teach a tool and/or share what they know with their classmates is a fabulous way for everyone to learn something new
  • sometimes the lesson isn't going to go as planned and that is okay
  • sometimes the computer will take longer than expected to "boot up"
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Links for use in the classroom during Station Rotation

Integrating Technology Across the Access Spectrum

As discussed in the What is Successful Technology Integration? section, how we define "technology integration" depends on the kinds of technology available and how much access one has to technology. This definition also depends on who is using the technology. For instance, in a classroom with only an interactive whiteboard and one computer, learning will still remain teacher centered and integration will revolve around teacher needs, which are not necessarily student needs. Still, there are ways to use an interactive whiteboard to make it a tool for your students. Even with one computer in the room, there are ways to integrate that one machine into your classroom and still make sure that you and your students are indeed doing things that you couldn't do before, not just doing the same things you did before in a quicker, more efficient way.

Rural Washington Students Connect with the World:

Pupils in Kristi Rennebohm Franz's classes have used the Internet for a variety of international exchanges and collaborative projects.

Credit: Kristi Rennebohm Franz

Below you will find a quick overview with suggestions of what kinds of tools and activities are best matched with various levels of technology access. All of the resources linked to are either free or offer free versions.

If your class has an interactive whiteboard and projector:If there is only one computer in your room:If you have a pod of three to five computers in the classroom or access to a library with a pod of computers:If you have access to a laptop cart or a computer lab:
  • All of the above, plus…
  • Enable students to work through course content at their own pace through the use of screencasts, e-books, and other digital media.
  • Use Poll Everywhere or Socrative to poll students.
  • Start live class discussions with TodaysMeet.
  • Explore enhanced digital note taking with Evernote.
If your students have 1:1 laptops or netbooks:
  • All of the above, whenever you want, for however long you like (especially if students take their laptops or netbooks home).
If you have access to a handful of mobile devices:
  • Have students create videos using the Animoto app
  • Record group discussions using a voice recording app.
  • Have students record themselves reading aloud for fluency checks.
  • Assign student-created comics using the Puppet Pals app.
  • Offer e-books for required readings.
  • Upload and access course content using the Edmodo or Schoology apps.
  • Conduct research.
  • Foster skills practice using apps specific to subject area.
  • Collaborate using apps like Whiteboard.
If your students have 1:1 mobile devices:
  • All of the above, plus…
  • Use them as multifunction devices (e.g., e-book readers, calculators, platforms for taking notes).
  • Try out a tool like Nearpod to project information onto student devices.
  • Check out mobile apps for student polling from Poll Everywhere or Socrative.