Learning Tech Tools

After 28 years of marriage I’m happy to say that I’m finally learning how to cook. It’s fun and challenging and I’m loving it.

Just to put this into perspective, our adult son moved to Jacksonville last November. On one of his “FaceTime” calls home he told me that whenever he makes hamburger helper it reminds him of home. (EEK!) What’s working for me is something called “Hello Fresh”, a program where the company sends me all of the fresh ingredients for three meals per week. Previously if a recipe called for more than a couple of ingredients I didn’t even consider it. Now I’m peeling and mincing ginger and dill. I’m making catfish and salmon and sprinkling cardamon and cinnamon onto a chicken before I place it into the oven!  I don’t even know what cardamon is and farro? Whatever it is, I followed the recipe and the dish was terrific. The meals are delicious, healthy and affordable. I’m stretching and learning something new and my husband and I are trying foods we’ve never had before–never too late for that, right? 11942107_1019786778065483_4558108573972776341_o

This way of learning how to cook is working for me because it fits me. I can learn because all of the ingredients arrive perfectly measured and ready to go. I’m not intimidated by the name of an ingredient I haven’t heard of or scared away from trying it because I don’t know where to look for the things in the first place. This program might not work for my friends who love to cook because it would seem unnecessary to them.  They have the ingredients, they’re more experienced and they have had success with cooking for years. I need the step by step instructions on my Hello Fresh app on my phone and the convenience of everything arriving in an organized, ready to go manner. Nothing has ever worked for me before and so I’ve never liked to cook (Hello Hamburger Helper!) but this program and tool are meeting my needs and I’m being successful (finally!).

In public education we’ve always talked about differentiating learning for every student. With a class of 20-22 students, that’s actually very hard to do well. We now have technology tools available to us that will adapt to each child’s strengths and abilities. Tools like PEG Writing, iReady adaptive testing and diagnostic instruction, Dreambox, and IXL are valuable tools that can truly help to tailor instruction to each child.

Technology will never replace teachers. The most critical and important part of our work lies in those relationships that we form with students. But technology tools can enhance learning just as the apps on your smart phone enhance your life. I don’t drive anywhere new without entering the address into the Maps app on my phone. I electronically bank on my phone, constantly “google” for information that answers my  many questions, take pictures, check the weather, shop on Amazon, follow recipes on Hello Fresh, book air travel on Southwest and JetBlue apps, and read the news through Twitter feeds, the Buffalo News and Post Journal apps. These tools have made my life easier and they’ve given me access to information in ways that I need to be smarter and more productive.

I’m not talking about smart boards and other teacher tools that just replace what we’ve always done or better engage students. I also have Facebook and Instagram on my phone–they engage me but they’re not productive and they certainly don’t make me smarter. As we move forward with our District plans to spend our Smart Schools Bond money on devices for our students, we need to find technology tools that make our students and teachers lives easier and give them access to information in ways that make them smarter and more productive.

My own experiences as a student in the public schools significantly shaped my life and I can contribute the professional success I have today to the quality of the education I received and the fact that I kept going back to further my education. The full impact that each of our teachers has on our students cannot be measured. Our work is crucial and doing the very best that we can for our children matters—what we say, the attitudes and beliefs we share, every choice we make that shows our own work ethic and dedication to our jobs teaches our students something.  Carefully researching and analyzing our productive use of new technologies will be one incredible way that we can model what real learning looks like and will continue to improve our teaching and learning too.

If I can make Tandoori Chicken for dinner tonight through the use of an app on my phone, what more can we accomplish in our classrooms when we find the right tools??

 

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