When moving towards a 1:1 environment, there are two ways a teacher can become overwhelmed. Some teachers who are less familiar with technology will find themselves overwhelmed by having to learn the ins and outs of the computer and its programs. Other teachers who are more technologically literate may find themselves overwhelmed with the sheer number of ways to integrate the technology into their courses. As surprising as it might be for someone who knew me a mere five years ago, I fall into the latter category.
I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I was not always in love with technology, and in general, I used to avoid it whenever possible. Now, however, I love playing with technology and think it has great potential for getting and keeping a student’s interest in history when used well. Strangely enough, however, I’m still feeling a little overwhelmed, albeit for different reasons than five years ago. My problem now isn’t how to use the computer in the classroom; my problem is what to do with the computer first. Which computer-based assignment should I try first? Should I have my students create a digital book on Renaissance art, or should I have them create an iMovie? Should I have my students collaborate on a Wiki about the American Revolution, or should I have them interview one of the Founding Fathers using GarageBand?
Today, I met with some other upper school teachers from my school for a kind of mini “boot camp” on teaching in a 1:1 environment, and one of my colleagues reminded us to slow down, take a deep breath, and do one thing at a time. She advised us to make a commitment to do one new thing every month with the computers – a new way of quizzing, a new kind of assignment, a new project, find a new website or program for you or your students to use, etc. Just one new thing incorporated into what you already do well. If you find you can do more, that’s great, but doing just one new thing a month means that by the end of the year you will have incorporated around 9 new technology-based initiatives into your teaching. That’s not such a bad start.
So remember: start by doing just one new thing a month. And really, that’s good advice whether you teach in a 1:1 or more traditional environment.