Brad O'Donnell: Help! I'm Integrating Technology

For the last few years I’ve waited.  I read the articles about schools brimming with technology.  Attended workshops with gadgets I couldn’t possibly figure out.  Listened to the talk of hand-held classrooms.  All the while, having no idea when it would set foot in my classroom.  Two years ago I thought a new projector meant replacing the overhead with the crooked arm and fan as loud as a jet engine.  But alas, technology has arrived in my school and classroom.  And I love it!

But it’s not a romance made in heaven.  I’ve made so many new friends in the last 18 months.  Here are just a few… Computerized grading and attendance system, new multimedia projectors, Mobile iBook Lab with science probes, Turning Point Classroom Response System,  Mimio Smartboard, Pro Test Generators, and countless lessons utilizing unitedstreaming, Power Point, Google Earth, and so many others.

Believe me, I’m thrilled about each and every one of them.  They are valuable tools that increase student interest, provide new resources, and get me fired up about entering my classroom each day.  But can someone please tell me how to use them?  And therein lies the problem.  If you’re not the type of educator who jumps right in and embraces this new technology, you may run out of the classroom screaming, “I don’t have another

USB

Port

!”  It can certainly be overwhelming.  Just the other day I was introduced to a new technology tool, played around with a little bit, and figured it would be a great idea for my class three days later.   Later that week, as the school nurse reminded me to keep breathing into the brown bag, I realized that my brief introduction to the product did not quite add up to my “mastery” of the program.  It often takes a while to learn the ins and outs of these new tools, and certainly takes even longer to figure out where you’re going to plug this stuff in.  My room has so many wires and cords I feel like Steve McQueen dodging hoses outside “The Towering Inferno.”

So step back, take ANOTHER deep breath, and follow my tips for making your classroom a place where Technology can feel safe from harm.

Top Ten Tips for the Beginning Technology Integrator

10. If there is a sale on extension cords at WalMart, pick one up.  You’ll need one soon.

9.   If you feel completely confused and overwhelmed, ask your students for help.  If that doesn’t work,settle for the professional IT staff. 

8.   Keep a supply of chocolate on hand at all times for emergency situations.

7.   Don’t ever say, “Wow!  This is going pretty smoothly!” during a lesson integrating technology.

6.   Your calculator with the really BIG numbers does not count as you integrating technology.

5.   Do not physically raise your hand during a webinar.  No one can see you and you’ll never be called on.

4.   Remove any hammers from your classroom before integrating technology.

3.   The term “User’s Guide” often offers no guidance on how to use something.

2.   Using Google Earth to show your class where you live might not be the greatest anticipatory set for your lesson.  Especially if there is furious note-taking.

1.   Be prepared for a Keystone workshop.  You may have severe laptop envy.

Good Luck! 

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49 Comments

  1. Kristin Hokanson said:

    Brad–Many educators I work with think a port is a place you go on a cruise and USB–is a new acronym for some kind of special ed report. Like your room, the wires in my room are a hazard (I have actually resorted to threading some through my drop ceiling myself)
    Your attitude is great though, I wish more people would adopt it. I wish more educators had the sense of humor you had regarding tech integration–I will DEFINITELY use your top 10 list in the future as perhaps it will help

  2. Erik Wittmer said:

    Brad,

    It is great to hear that you are loving integrating technology into your everyday teachings. My question to you is, how did you get the $ to purchase all of this equipment?

    The reason I ask is because a few of my co-workers and I are looking to purchase smart boards, LCD projectors and some other “toys” for our rooms and we can’t convience our district that they things would help instruction become better. Please help!

  3. Bonnie Sheppard said:

    I thought I was the only one who felt like this! Glad you helped us see the Humor in all off this Technology.

  4. elizabeth a pitcher said:

    I love the top 10! Especially the one about chocolate!

  5. Jill Sitnick said:

    I completely agree with numbers 10, 8,7,6,5,4,3,2, and 1 of your list for a technology integrator. I’m having trouble with number 9! And – there is chocolate in your room?

  6. F. Backhaus said:

    Brad,
    Great Blog!! There definately needs to be a better/easier connection between using technology and being trained to use technology.
    Keep up the great work!!!

  7. diane bridi said:

    I use chocolate for everything here in first grade. And since I only have an old MAC for my students to use, we are still in the dark ages of technology use. But I have learned to use my own “Teacher” computer for Accelerated Reader and other various functions – not too bad for an old “dinosaur” who has been teaching 35 years.

  8. Michelle Schutter said:

    This offers a genuine impression of technology that numerous teachers can relate to. It is very personable and funny. This would be worth submitting to a teacher’s magazine.

  9. HEIDI GRUTZMACHER said:

    Have you thought of taking your show on the road?

  10. Janine Daniels said:

    Brad,
    BRAVO! Another addition to your top ten should be to stop at Radio Shack and pick up a cable wire that will also reach to the LCD Projector in the room if your computer is against the wall due to the internet hook-up and your LCD is in the middle of the room so that it can project onto the screen that is permanently secured to the wall in the front of the room.
    Glad to hear that you are utilizing the “opportunity”. I wish I had a SMART BOARD. Can I borrow it?
    Seriously, I applaude your effort.
    Any news on the new Pacetti boys? Have a great day!!!!

  11. Marge Shaw said:

    Great job Brad! I’m impressed with all the stuff you use. Where do you find them time? I love the LCD projector the best and wish we each had one – there’s so much out there to show about the subject.

  12. Chuck Gerlach said:

    Nice picture Brad. Technology in the classroom can be both beneficial and frustrating. Keep on hammering.

  13. John Flis said:

    Brad
    There always seems to be a “learning
    gap” between the users and the
    creators of new technology. School
    districts need to recognize and
    address this issue. It would
    ameliorate some of the frustration
    that educators may experience during
    the learning process.

  14. Tee Jay Green said:

    My friends and I built a LCD projector for about 150 bucks. From one of “the overheads with the crooked arm and fan as loud as a jet engine” and a LCD monitor. It works well but would probably wouldn’t look to good in a classroom.

    I’m only student teaching now, but when I get my own classroom I plan on integrating technology tastefully into the classroom.

    I also have started toying with a course management system called Moodle. (http://moodle.org/) It’s a web based system I plan on using to keep track of assignments and providing extra content for my classes. An easy way for students and parents to see what we did in class on a certain day.

    My work study job at the university I attended is in the IT department. I can honestly say that if everyone had your positive outlook, even when frustrated, about technology that job would be a lot less exasperating.

    Good read!

  15. Scott Cohen said:

    Brad,
    Good to see that Bensalem has moved into the early 1990’s. Integrating technology into the curriculum is long past due and should be a viewed as a priority by the district’s administration. Not only are there pedagogical advantages in integration there are also significant cost efficiencies. As a tax payer, I demand such progress. Keep up the good work.

  16. Jacque Irons said:

    No one could have better explained the situation. Humor continues to be the route to sanity:)

  17. Connie Wright said:

    Brad,
    I totally agree that technology is wonderful, but thorough training
    is more wonderful. When I attended college, the History of Chalk and Using the Red Pen 101 were considered advanced technology courses!

  18. Joe Handzlik said:

    Brad,
    It’s exciting to see a former student turned educator excited about education and technology. There are so many new things out there and I want to try them all. The problem is is that the hardware necessary to incorporate them in my classroom becomes quite expensive. Last week I downloades a 4 1/2 min. video from United Streaming to summarize what i had been teaching in social studies. Because of the lack of appropriate equipment, it took me 1/2 hour to set up the LCD projector, screen, unhool my speakers from my computer and hook them into the laptop (of course the chord was a lttle too short)….all for a 4 1/2 min. clip. At the end I asked myself, “Was it worth it?” I know I won’t give up because of the exciting things out there, but always in the back of my mind is how efficient is this?
    Keep on keeping on, Brad.
    Joe (Mr. Hadzlik yourformer old 5th grade teacherand now colleague)

  19. M Domin said:

    I can totally relate to your frustrations, and I love your top ten tips!

  20. Tara Elliott said:

    Love it Brad! You seem to have the technology down pat. I now you are enjoying integrating technology and science together.

  21. RJ Stangherlin said:

    I still keep a hammer close by. Brad, your top tens is tops. I totally can identify with you; been there, and whenever I try something new, I am still there. You are so spot on about the difference between traing us for technology integration and the integration itself. We did our first videoconference a month ago. Great support with the set up and transmission: a breeze with a great technologist. But working with Google Earth and trying to get it to do things it wouldn’t do–a challenge without in-house support. I hear you.

  22. Elaine Gormish said:

    Brad, Great job as usual. Technology is great but we all need training, training, training. Your top ten is the best.

  23. Jan McKemey said:

    Brad,
    Loved the top 10. You are now the tech guru. Does this mean that filmstrips are out?

  24. Jan McKemey said:

    Brad,
    Loved the top 10. You are now the tech guru. Does this mean that filmstrips are out?

  25. Jan McKemey said:

    Brad,
    Loved the top 10. You are now the tech guru. Does this mean that filmstrips are out?

  26. Jan McKemey said:

    Brad,
    Loved the top 10. You are now the tech guru. Does this mean that filmstrips are out?

  27. Jan McKemey said:

    Brad,
    Loved the top 10. You are now the tech guru. Does this mean that filmstrips are out?

  28. Jan McKemey said:

    Brad,
    Loved the top 10. You are now the tech guru. Does this mean that filmstrips are out?

  29. Jan McKemey said:

    Brad,
    Loved the top 10. You are now the tech guru. Does this mean that filmstrips are out?

  30. Jan McKemey said:

    Brad,
    Loved the top 10. You are now the tech guru. Does this mean that filmstrips are out?

  31. Jan McKemey said:

    Brad,
    Loved the top 10. You are now the tech guru. Does this mean that filmstrips are out?

  32. Jan McKemey said:

    Brad,
    Loved the top 10. You are now the tech guru. Does this mean that filmstrips are out?

  33. Jan McKemey said:

    Brad,
    Loved the top 10. You are now the tech guru. Does this mean that filmstrips are out?

  34. Jan McKemey said:

    Brad,
    Loved the top 10. You are now the tech guru. Does this mean that filmstrips are out?

  35. Jan McKemey said:

    Brad,
    Loved the top 10. You are now the tech guru. Does this mean that filmstrips are out?

  36. Jan McKemey said:

    Brad,
    Loved the top 10. You are now the tech guru. Does this mean that filmstrips are out?

  37. Jan McKemey said:

    Brad,
    Loved the top 10. You are now the tech guru. Does this mean that filmstrips are out?

  38. Jan McKemey said:

    Brad,
    Loved the top 10. You are now the tech guru. Does this mean that filmstrips are out?

  39. Jan McKemey said:

    Brad,
    Loved the top 10. You are now the tech guru. Does this mean that filmstrips are out?

  40. Jan McKemey said:

    Brad,
    Loved the top 10. You are now the tech guru. Does this mean that filmstrips are out?

  41. Jan McKemey said:

    Brad,
    Loved the top 10. You are now the tech guru. Does this mean that filmstrips are out?

  42. Jan McKemey said:

    Brad,
    Loved the top 10. You are now the tech guru. Does this mean that filmstrips are out?

  43. Kathleen DiTanna said:

    Congratulations Brad! I loved your blog and I love hearing that Bensalem is finally heading toward the 21st century in technology. It is so true what you and many of our fellow bloggers have pointed out (quite humorously) about the complications of integrating technology. We are lucky that teachers like yourself are using technology as much as possible in the classroom. Keep up the great work! Let’s team up and try to do a tech project together.

  44. Karen Neal said:

    Your top ten list is right on target. If calculators with large numbers don’t count as technology, then I guess the old slide ruler is really out.

  45. Robert A. Booey said:

    Brad,

    Wonderfully done. My heart is warmed by these advances.

    While my heart has been warmed, it has also been slightly shocked.

    If the educational system ever moves away from the spinning handle mimeograph machines, I may have to call 911.

    Kudos!

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