The New Normal

 

I love the classroom and I really love my classroom. I started building this room in 1999. The year of Y2K. I started teaching a Computer Applications class with like 10 computers and I had to devise a way to group and rotate my students until I got a computer for every student. This was our computer class! And in 1999, it wasn’t even one to one! I can’t believe how funny that sounds. Now, sixteen years later, my school is pretty much one to one in every classroom. Welcome to the new normal.

My talk about the issues regarding AUPs in today’s classroom came from my ruminations over the new normal in the classroom. I have been waiting for this day to come for so long! I am so excited to see it finally here. It’s not just about reaching one to one. It’s the technology revolution that has functionally transformed the classroom. When Google Apps for Education (GAFE) came to my district, it started the wave of true transformation. It brought a fundamental shift in the way we can all communicate and explore.

Integrating technology always was part of my classroom and my job. I was always pushing for my computers or my network to do more. I have sought out and embraced everything I could find to improve my craft and to deliver the best education I could to my students.Early on in my career, I began mentoring my peers and helping them learn how to integrate tech in their classrooms. I was a mentor in the Teach to the Future program sponsored by Intel and the Gates Foundation back in those early days and started teaching tech integration in earnest. In these days, it was about how to bring this new tool of technology into your existing curriculum.  

My students do not save their work on floppy discs anymore. They don’t save on CDs or flash drives either. Everything we do is saved to the cloud and it is always accessible from wherever we are. It will stay there too for as long as we want it to, or until Google goes away which likely will not occur anytime within this millennium. I wouldn’t think of using such things in my classroom any more even though these old tools still work. They just aren’t as effective.

My classes and my curriculum has been under constant change since I began teaching. I am always discarding, modifying, adapting, reinventing. I am used to it. If I did not, my program would have become irrelevant long ago. I know many teachers are not used to this constant cycle. It requires effort and work to continually adapt and retool your lessons and believe me, I know that there is precious little time as it is and the challenge can be daunting. Some teachers still view technology as a tool that can be used to enhance a lesson or an option for a project. That’s not why we are one to one. Every teacher is one to one because technology is the new normal. It’s not a special feature anymore, it is the movie.

A few years ago now, I went from teaching just Computer Applications classes and the Yearbook to teaching Computer Apps I and II, Digital Photography, Video Production, Computer Programming, Design and Publication and Web Design. I researched and gathered and created my curriculum for each one. However, regardless of whether the curriculum is computer based, the home of each class is the computer and the internet. In Digital Photo for example, my students are on the computer nearly every day writing or researching and creating. Everything is hosted on the Google Classroom which has made the digital classroom much more convenient, but my classroom would still be digital without it. Google Classroom is just one of the tools that can be used. This is the point of one to one. The computer should be part of every class every day and now it is a matter of selecting which of the many available tools on that computer will best serve the needs of your lesson and the needs of the students.

I know getting over this shift can be daunting. Don’t let it overwhelm you though, just approach it pieces. Try a new approach or a new tool and once you are comfortable, try another. Don’t be someone who can’t see the forest for the trees. Keep looking and adding, tweaking and enhancing and soon enough you will find that that cart is just the place you need to store the devices overnight to charge and those devices are on the desks and being used throughout every day. This is the new normal.

My partner recently asked if I thought we should separate our blogs since mine focuses on tech and hers on literacy. NO! I said, rather sternly. Tech isn’t separate from literacy. That’s the whole point of this blog post. Tech is, or at least should be, part of every single discipline, just like literacy. I’m teaching writing and literacy in all of my technology classes just as she is teaching tech in her English and social studies classes. This is the new normal and it rocks.

@citizenwoz

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