Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Reflections on Teaching Tools

Yesterday, as I watched the live broadcast from Boston of the ALA announcements of the  Caldecott and Newbery winners in my classroom, I started thinking about how many different tools I use today as a teacher. My first year of teaching was the 1986-87 school year. I taught 24 kindergarteners in a Catholic School in Falls Church, Virginia. Now I teach at a brand new, state-of-the-art public school in Arlington, VA. Here's a quick comparison as seen through the lens of technology used during these two years as a teacher:

Reflection on Technology as a Teaching Tool
Way I Taught Kindergarten,
my 1st year
Way I Teach 3rd Grade
Using a VHS video camera to film a class presentation and sent the tape home, student by student, so they could watch it with their family. At the end of 2 months, all families could view it.
My students took turns using their iPad camera to make a video of a class presentation. Then the file was shared via airdrop to all in the presentation so they could share it at home that evening on their iPad.
Reading about the Caldecott and Newbery winners in the newspaper or learning of it by seeing the medal sticker on a book at the library.
Watched the 2016 live broadcast from Boston of the ALA announcement of the winners on my classroom SmartPanel and heard the winners with my students the moment it was announced to the public.

Orally sharing at the parent-teacher conference and in writing on the report card about the kind of reader their child is.
Posting to twitter a photo taken of children in my classroom reading and being lost in a book as a way to show the kind of reader we are.
Having heavy dictionaries available to use to find the spelling of a word and feeling like looking for the word is like looking for a needle in a hay stack.
Typing the spelling of a word into the Google browser and seeing “did you mean …” and seeing the correct way to spell the   tricky word on the screen so it can be copied into our writing correctly.
Talking to my husband about a cool thing he saw at work that day many hours later.
Watching a video texted to me by my husband the day he saw the Pope’s motorcade as he walked to work. Then I airplayed it on my SmartPanel so my students can see this historic figure just 5 minutes after my husband saw it in real time.
Using a Kodak camera and snapping pictures. Then waiting a week for the film to be developed to then share with my class.
Taking a picture on my iPhone and tweeting it in seconds. Sometimes one of the 309 followers I presently have LIKE it and/or RETWEET it and then more people see it and like it and retweet it...
Using a blackboard with chalk and a mimeograph machine to make ditto copies and distributing the worksheets to my students to complete an assignment. 
Using Google Classroom to assign paperless assignments. Students easily share their assignments by airplaying them to either the SmartPanel and SmartTV that I have in my classroom to then teach the class about the assignment.
My, oh my! How my teaching has changed since 1987! Just this year, by teaching 3rd grade at a new school with 1:1 iPads, a Macbook Air, a SmartPanel, a SmartTV and Apple TV in my classroom, my approach to how I teach has changed. I still teach students. I still teach similar content standards. However, with the 1:to:1 iPads, lessons become more visually appealing, making the students more engaged and focused. Many lessons go quicker so students have more time to practice. Always, students have a choice of how to show and share their thinking and with choice comes endless possibilities.

How about you?


  1. This is wonderful. I am a first-year teacher, and I am excited to do this reflection down the road. Thank you for sharing this slice!

  2. I love this! I am reading AMPLIFY and this post reminded me of it because the intent is the same but the tools allow you to do so much more, quicker, and reach more people. This was awesome to read!

  3. Seeing the two of these in juxtaposition like this really hits the point home, doesn't it? The times, they are a-changin'...

  4. Tools have changed! Drastically. Such a great reflection. It has happened so fast. You don't have to go that far back to see the changes. My current students can't believe there was a time without iPads and iPhones!

  5. Brought back many memories:) I love this!

  6. Brought back many memories:) I love this!