Love Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

In 1970, no movie was bigger than Love Story. The theme song from Love Story was likewise a smash hit contributing to the composer’s, Francis Lai, Oscar win in 1970 for Best Music, Original Score. But, it also sums up my problem.

I am in love with all of the technology that I am learning about. I want to keep my students on the cutting edge of literacy and technology, on the edge of the Read/Write Web. After all, what could be a more natural connection than literacy instruction: reading and writing; that is supported by and teaches students to confidently and appropriately communicate using the Read/Write Web?

But my problem is actually, also the first line and actual title of the Theme from Love Story: “Where DO I Begin?”  What is most important for my students to experience as I am just beginning to implement significant use of technology in my classroom?

I have been watching the growth of technology as a tool for education over my 30 years in education. In fact, the year that I did my professional semester, one mini-section of just one of my education courses was a tiny overview of computers. The instructor walked us into the “computer lab” and sat us in front of a bank of Apple IIc computers.

apple IIc

She required us to write one brief paragraph on Bank Street Writer (a first-generation word processing program) and had us print it (yep, dot matrix), and hand it in. After the class, she said, “This computer thing is just a fad, but for the next couple of years if you can’t say that you have worked on a computer, you’ll have a hard time getting hired.” Talk about a prophet!

Well, the first time I cut and pasted text without using white out or re-HAND-writing the paper a million times–I was hooked and I knew this was no fad. As much as I was able, I implemented computers in my classroom, but I had limited, very limited access to computers, and when I left the classroom five years ago, Web 1.0 was still the norm.

I am returning to teaching this year, and my classroom IS a computer lab. With a computer for each student. Do I start with a wiki? Blogging? Casting? Do I implement a year-long use or just incorporate it in one unit? Do I use the computer or other technology to keep parents abreast of the happenings in class? Peers of mine have professional Twitter accounts and classroom Facebook accounts. How do they keep up? I have an idea of creating an online writing lab and ultimately either an online parent newsletter from my class or an online literary magazine. But, well, while my mind is bursting with ideas, my stomach is beginning to ache.

Where DO I begin, indeed?

12 thoughts on “Love Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

  1. Lorilee, the feelings you are experiencing about technology and where to begin in the classroom – you are not alone. I have not been teaching for 25 years (I think that was the number?) like you, and I still don’t know where to begin either. Besides the computer program that our district bought that supplements the textbook series (Carnegie), and a very insignificant use of Google Drive, I have not implemented a ton of technology into my lesson plans either. However, I was at the store last night, and I bought a small journal. I am going to write down a few goals for this school year, and keep this journal with me as a reminder and inspiration to keep going in the face of challenges that I will most certainly encounter while working towards these goals. I am only going to start with one or two things for this school year. I can use the journal to jot down reflections and ideas that I think about or come across while taking these courses perusing through blogs on my spare time. Then, the following year, after I feel comfortable with the new tool I tried the previous year, I will write another goal for technology integration in my journal and start using that along with the previous years tool.

    So yes, as you say, where do I begin? I was thinking of jumping right into flipping my classroom – maybe once every two weeks to start. But this incorporates A LOT OF NEW TOOLS, so maybe I should start out on a smaller scale and work up to this goal for next year. So, I am encouraged after this weeks module, to maybe start a class wiki. I had the idea to use the wiki as a collaborative notebook where one student is assigned to contribute the majority of the class notes for the week, while others add and edit. Then, by the time a test or midterm rolls around, all the notes are in one place! To get better with tools like screen casting and podcasts, I could incorporate some of these into the wiki to supplement the notes. Then, by the time the following school year rolls around, I will be ready to flip the classroom!!

    I love my little journal, the size, pattern, pages inside – I can’t wait to write in it and be inspired by it. For some reason, when I write something down, like as a goal (like writing down assignments for this course) I am compelled to get them done – mostly to cross it off the list! Yes… I am a list-crosser-offer! So, if I write down a few goals for technology integration into my journal, I am most definitely going to give it a try! (so I can cross it off my list, of course!)

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    1. Love the idea of your goal-setting journal (and, of course, who doesn’t like a reason to buy office supplies). The idea of keeping a record of not only what I want to accomplish, but also how I accomplished it, is compelling. I also think the journal would be incredibly useful for recording and evaluating the different links and tools and strategies that I will encounter as I accomplish this goal. I know that personally, since I began this and a few other online, technology courses, my bookmarks have grown exponentially. And frankly, after a time, no matter how good they are, I don’t remember what each bookmark is or even that I have bookmarked anything. Sometimes paper is still the best and quickest for jotting and skimming.

      And I have really thought about your comment that flipping your classroom would entail learning a lot of new tools. It made me think that, for me, a larger project or longer-term project would perhaps be too much too quickly. This is making me consider that perhaps it would be best to choose one tool–blogging, and set a course for using it during the year. The fact of the matter is that IF I feel that I and my students are doing the blog well–we can always add more tools later. And, as with many of the platforms we’ve investigated, we can add tools directly to the platform as I and the students feel confident to do so. For example–I can add a screencast to a blog. Or a podcast. Or link to a site that has a great tool.

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      1. Your idea to start with a blog sounds great! As you say, once you and the students get comfortable with writing and commenting on blogs, you could slowly introduce other tools into this medium. Sounds like you are starting to feel a little less overwhelmed about where to begin!

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  2. I miss the days when I could walk around with a nice thick book and a notebook, a pretty pen. When I got bored I would open my book and read, feel the pages, and write notes. Then I would take out my favorite pen and write in my little journal about silly things I feel or see. Those days were no more. Nowadays, I travel with my kindle and an iPad, my iPhone. My kids thought I was carrying too much. All I really needed was just my iPhone. My kids think I’m a dinosaur. Today, when all we need is one technology tool to do everything, I still carry multiple things for different purposes.

    Therefore, I totally share your feelings Lorilee about the speed of technology advancement. It’s unbelievable how fast it’s moving. All these apps and software, phones and computers available on the market to improve our lifestyle and meet our teaching demands. I totally feel overwhelmed by all these choices. In other words, I am not very good with the use of technology and not very creative with incorporating it in my lessons either. Technology really intimidates me. Every time I feel comfortable about something, something else is invented and I am left behind again. I am always trying to just keep up. However, I am grateful for all the available assistance in our school and online. Because of our technological advancement, we can learn anything online. This is the best thing that comes out of the digital age. It’s an exciting time but also very demanding. As a teacher, I feel we need to teach our students to use and share the information online responsibly. We can also use the technology to our advantage. In my case, students can research China’s diverse cultures and cities online. They learn about China even before I start to teach them the language. Technology enriches learning. I just wish I were more comfortable with technology!
    Thanks for sharing this, Lorilee. I realize I’m not alone!

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  3. The first thing I was going to suggest as I read through your post was to create a newsletter of sorts that the students create….and then I saw that you came up with that at the very end of your post. Then I was thinking, a great place to take your first baby step is to start with the blogging and then keep up with that throughout the year as you add more tools to the mix (which is pretty much what Shari was saying). So the only new thing I can think to add that I haven’t seen yet, is try out some of the lesson plans with your students in the first marking period that you created for this course. Of all the lesson plans I had to create, my favorite was the wiki lesson plan, and I have been using it for years, tweaking it to make it better as the years progress. If there is one thing I like about this course, it is that it requires you to complete things that you can actually use in the classroom. I’m really bummed that we will no longer have this class once the school year begins because I am so excited to see how you and everyone else will use these tools in their classrooms!

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  4. Hi Lorilee,
    I can relate to your dilemma as to what technology will best serve you and your students. These courses we have been taking offer us as teachers so many experiences using the emerging technology tools and sometimes I feel like a kid in a candy store… It can be overwhelming for sure with so many great tools to incorporate into the classroom.
    From reading your discussions and blogs, I understand that you will be teaching English in middle school. I think taking into consideration what your goals are for the technology tool, the age of your students as well as the access to technology are all factors to take into consideration when planning on what technology tool to implement.
    It seems to me that blogging would work nicely with the subject you teach and may be a good place to start. From there you could include the use of Flickr and include your own podcasts. Starting with one tool or technique and building from there may contribute to the outcome you desire rather than overwhelming yourself or your students. I also like the idea Shari had about using a journal for goals and reflection. We all need to tweak our lessons each year so a journal would be a great place to jot down those ideas on improving our lessons. Take it one step at a time, think through your reason for using the technology tool and be prepared to tweak it. Judging from your previous posts, you’re students will be lucky to have you as their teacher!

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  5. Lorilee,

    I absolutely loved reading this post! Your professor was indeed a prophet! Since I have started teaching, my main experience in the classroom has been in a 1:1 environment where each student has her own laptop provided, but I still ask the same question you do: “Where do I begin?” It can be very overwhelming figuring out what to do because there are SO many tools and resources available! Its crazy!

    One thing I always try to remember when thinking about using technology in my lesson plans is to design the lesson and use the technology as a tool. It’s so easy (and I have been guilty of this before) to get all excited about a new tool and then design the lessons around the tool. I have to remind myself often to make it about the learning experience. I think the ideas you present at the end of your post will all work; you just need to figure out what your purpose for all them is. You need to do what is comfortable for you.

    I personally like the idea of using the computers year-long, because it will allow for a more natural incorporation of the tech, making it more about the learning and not the tool. Start a class blog where each week a different student is responsible to write and post a summary of things the class did that week. Have parents join the blog or send that post out to them via email. Students can be responsible for that too, if you want. I LOVE the idea of an online writing lab and literary magazine. Publishing work like that gives students even more pride in their work and connects them to other writers across the world.

    Your excitement is contagious! I’m thinking of new ideas for my own Creative Writing Course, wondering how I can better use the technology my students have. See what you did? Now I can’t focus anymore! 😉

    Whatever you do will work. Tech is the tool, and a very powerful one at that. There is so much potential!

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  6. I agree with your statement, Cheryl, about being a kid in the candy store. We are learning a lot and there is a lot more to learn. I do think the idea of beginning in one place with one app or site or piece of technology is a good beginning, but on a larger scale, I was thinking too about what will die away as a bell and whistle and what should we be incorporating that will be of lasting impact on our students down the road? The specific technology that we teach them today won’t be the same in (for my students) four year. So what is the lasting technology that will lay the foundation for the technology to come in their lives? Is there something for me to make certain that I teach them in order to prepare them for Web 3.0?

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    1. I don’t know if it’s possible to know what technology tool will be around four years or what will be the next best emerging tech tool. When we think about social media at it’s inception, my space was first used with my kids, then Facebook and now it’s Instagram or Snapchat. My 19 and 21 year old don’t even use Facebook anymore.
      Keep in mind, by incorporating a tech tool or technique that will enhance the learning process will develop 21st Century skills so then you know you are on the right track.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks Jesse,
    It’s helpful to hear from someone who is in the middle of 1-to-1, although my students can’t take the computers from the room since they are pseudo-laptops.

    I agree with you about the tool becoming or overwhelming the instruction. That’s one of the challenges about choosing what to begin with. You’re right: what are my learning goals and which tool will best support that. Not the other way around. It’s easy to get caught up in the “Dog and Pony Show.”

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  8. Hi Lorilee,
    I think all teachers, younger or older, inexperienced or seasoned, all struggle with when, where, why, and how to use technology. And how much is too much?

    That being said, start small at the beginning. Incorporate one or two things from the start and build from there. Don’t feel like you need to do everything just because it exists. Consider what will deliver your instruction best and what will lend itself best to your classroom environment. The whole goal of technology is to encourage, create, and enhance learning, so choose selectively for that purpose.

    Then, don’t be scared to let the students teach you. Some of my most successful learning activities have been technology based, where I was not completely comfortable with the technology being used. I let my students take the lead, teaching themselves and teaching me as we went along. And honestly, I think we all learned more in this style of learning. Taking a step outside of my own comfort zone also helped me to let go of control, allowing students to truly take the lead. This is one of the beauties of technology and the internet. It lets our students become the teachers, which is what I think we all want anyway.

    Maybe start with a class blog, class information Wiki, or a class social media account. They can all be included into every aspect of your class and shared with all stakeholders, including students, parents, and colleagues. Then, look at what you want your students to learn, and figure out what means of technology can create and support that learning. You might be surprised to find out how naturally it comes to you and your students. I can already tell from your enthusiasm and openness, you’re going to figure this out, and you and your students will all be more successful because of it! 🙂

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