Recently, I spoke with a colleague who is using new web-based technologies in her classroom. Emily Thoms Daprano is a second grade teacher who is also going through the EDIM program with me. We have taken different courses over the duration of the past year and compare notes regarding informational media and it’s applications in our classrooms.
While we were discussing how we choose and utilize new technologies to use in our classrooms, Emily’s ideas paralleled much of my own through and what is written in Untangling the Web by Steve Dembo and Adam Bellow. To begin, it is important to her that sites don’t require an email address for students to sign in. Using a passcode for students is infinitely easier than an email. Plus, it usually will keep kids from accidentally erasing or altering another’s work. Secondly, she likes sites that are free. I agree that as educators, we look for resources that are free or are offered at a “freemium” (have both free use and upgraded uses.) Although it is becoming more popular, there is still a little bit of hesitation to use our school resource funds for access to websites.
Emily mentioned something very important in our conversation: She said that she wanted to make sure she was integrating technology into something that she’s already teaching. She’s not interested in using a site that teaches technology use for technology’s sake. Sites she use need to support her work teaching content.
Although she hasn’t been faced with too many roadblocks in implementing new technologies, she stresses that those looking to implement web-based programs in their classroom spend a little bit of time reaching out to those around them. She shares ideas with her team and puts all resources on her websites. If you look around, you’ll find that a lot of the “trial and error” research has been done by another teacher in a similar post as your own. That being said, don’t be afraid to try something new. If it works, great! If not, keep looking for the site that will support you and your students’ learning.
As a kindergarten teacher, I agree with Emily’s sentiments. One small difference is that I use websites that are both teaching and reinforcing content as well as opposed to sites that use collaboration to do the work around a topic. Most of that is due to the fact that kinders aren’t quite literate enough to use true collaborative tools. They’ll get there, but they’re not there yet.
You can find Emily’s classroom website here.
You can find more information about Untangling the Web here.