Gone Are The Days Of Computer Labs

If you are old enough to teach right now, there is a good chance that while you were in school you had a computer lab instead of a laptop cart. There was one room in the school with the classroom set of computers every class shared throughout the school year. Your computer time was about once every week or two weeks where you would spend an hour typing your papers, playing cool math games, or testing. And there is a really good chance that if you’re teaching now, this isn’t the case for your students. 

Computer labs are a thing of the past, irrelevant to our day. We aren’t setting aside time for utilizing technology in our classrooms, we are picking up this tech and solving everyday problems with it. 

Typing our written papers isn’t a treat anymore, it’s expected. 

Finding learning-based gaming isn’t to kill time in the computer lab, it’s used to boost test scores and teach on a tier-three basis to each and every student. 

Coding isn’t just for fun, it’s there to teach students how to plan and think ahead. Later, they will use these basic fundamental skills in their future careers as adults. 

Thinking tech-minded in schools is becoming easier and easier with more technology access throughout every grade. More often than not, each classroom is equipped with a 1:1 ratio of technology to student, whether that be by laptop, Chromebook, iPad, or cellphone. 

When it comes time to learn about penguins for science, we don’t line up our class and march them down to the computer lab to research the subject. Instead, we ask them to pull out their iPads, watch the videos about the habitats, read the online articles on the different kinds of penguins, create their own presentations, choose their own images, and present their findings to their classmates and friends. What used to take weeks and weeks of time to research now can take one afternoon. 

How are you shifting your technology mindset from a “computer lab” to an “iPad” in your classroom or school? 

My Experience At The 2020 UCET Conference

Recently I went to Utah Coalition for Educational Technology (UCET) conference in Provo, Utah. A big conference for tech nerdy teachers, and those aspiring to be. It was incredible. 

We started each day with a keynote speaker- Matt Miller @jmattmiller and Richard Culatta @rec54 where each spoke about technology in the classroom, the benefits, and how easily accessible it can be. Richard focused on digital citizenship and the responsibility that it entails.  

During breakout sessions, they had options to learn more about everything tech imaginable spanning from Google Drive, Google sheets, to Nearpod, to Skype and more. Technology is advancing and we as teachers are here for the hype. 

The timing of the conference could not have come at a better time with Covid-19 shutdowns all across the world. Teachers, coaches, and administrators walked out of there with the tools they needed for schools being based online and at home for the foreseeable future. 

After being surrounded by AR, VR, Microsoft, Google, Apple, iPads, laptops, and more, I am feeling fired up and ready to put these ideas to use! But wait…. I’m not teaching right now! That’s where you will come in. I’ll share my findings on this space over the next few weeks and YOU can implement them into your classrooms and then share with me. 

Next year if you’re in the area, check out this UCET conference and learn more for yourself, your school, and your students about technology and digital citizenship, it won’t disappoint. 

This post is not sponsored by UCET.

Parent Resources For School Closures

With schools across the nation shutting down for COVID-19 social distancing purposes, parents are left at home, many overwhelmed by keeping up with student’s needs for learning. 

First, take a deep breath. There are resources and help out there for you, and I want to share my best tips with you as well. 

Whether you have a newborn or a college student moving home, these basic principals apply. 

TALK

Talk to your kids. Ask them their thoughts and feelings, tell them about your day and your thoughts and feelings. Comment on colors of objects or numbers around you. Have open, fun conversations. 

SING

Sing lullabies and I’m A Little Teapot, sing made up songs about washing hands, and throw a little Queen in there. Sing them songs. 

READ

Read picture books and chapter books. Read their favorite book and your favorite book. Read them magazines and online articles. It doesn’t matter what you’re reading, it just matters that you READ. 

WRITE

Write small journal entries about their day, write a book, write a sentence. Have them notice everyday life and write about it. Let them see the scientific method be put to use every day in the simple things like getting dressed or choosing a breakfast food, and write it down. Use a pencil, use a pen, use a computer, but all they need to do is put words together to make sentences. Or if they are younger, put pictures together to create a story! 

PLAY

Engage in real, genuine, play. Make pillow forts and cuddle on the couch. Just enjoy your time together and use your imagination. 


No need to overcomplicate an already stressful situation. Just take it day by day, do your best, and wash your hands. You’ve got this! 

Troubleshooting Global Collaboration In Classrooms

Recently I wrote about writing to a global, authentic audience, and now I want to take it a little further. Collaboration. Globally. 

How do we collaborate between classrooms, schools, and students? It seems so easy, and so hard at the same time. Where do you start? I’m here to tell you just how easy and cheap it can be. 

Do you have internet access? Do you have a webcam and a microphone on a usable device? Can you easily navigate a website? Is your budget $0? This is for you. 

skypeintheclassroom.com where you can set up virtual field trips, Skype with other classrooms, invite a guest speaker via skype, collaborate on projects, and MORE. You can easily search what you are looking for and apply filters. Browse the website for five minutes and you’ll see just how easy it can be. 

Google Drive- a tool the majority of teachers know, but let’s use it beyond our classroom. Think, penpals across the nation or across the world using a GoogleDoc. Students solving problems by bouncing ideas off of other students in different states, with instant results. 

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” -Matt Miller 

Are you a dual immersion teacher? Or a teacher of Spanish? French? Imagine a Skype call in your French class with a classroom in France learning to speak English. 

What about a history teacher? Maybe finding a classroom who has been on a field trip to a historical site and can tell your students all about it. Both benefit. Or vice versa if you’ve been on a cool field trip with your students that they can share. 

But what if you can’t find a classroom to Skype that fits your needs? Get creative. Social media is a huge global tool. HUGE. Tweet out your idea of a skyping classroom, ask for friends to retweet and share, and see where it goes. Contact schools worldwide to see if they have any teachers with the same interest as you. 

Are you seeing the same benefits I am? Why learn from one single teacher when the possibilities of education literally have no walls or limits? There is too much knowledge in this world to keep it within the four walls of our classroom. 

Now go out and be global teachers and create global learners like this class! 

Technology Interview With Dr. Rose Judd-Murray

I recently conducted an interview with Dr. Rose Judd-Murray, a past professor of mine at Utah State University that teaches in the school of Applied Sciences, Technology, and Education. I felt like she would have some excellent insight on technology in the classroom as both an educator and a student, and after the interview was conducted, her answers did not disappoint! There is a lot of golden information here both for educators who are new to technology, and those who are deep in the tech universe. 

How have you seen technology in education change over the years? 

“The most positive change I have seen in the last five years has been the focus on universal design and the improvement of connection-building for online delivery of courses. There are good ways to connect online and some really poor ways—I see both used, but at least at my institution, there is a great deal of effort expended to try and educate faculty on how to understand how and why for using the good techniques.”

What are the ways you’ve seen student improvement by using technology in the classroom? 

“Content has to be relatable to be relevant. Faculty and/or instructors that aren’t using technology to make their content relevant for Gen Z & Alpha lose credibility and application with their students. I see the greatest amount of student improvement in engagement and motivation when they can see that there are real-world applications within the content. I’m a teacher advocate for using technology to connect to professionals and organizations that build these bridges for our students.”

In what ways have you seen technology help our society as a whole? 

“I believe that technology solves problems. Technology is the application of science to find solutions to our societal problems. There is tremendous potential for us to use technology to improve human conditions, environmental degradation, and create a sustainable planet for future generations. The key is that technology is applied by humans—and while an invention can be “created” to fill one purpose it may be applied in many other ways. It is our responsibility to understand that technology can hurt as well as heal and if we aren’t paying attention and actively engaging for a democratic application there will be very real consequences. The adage, “technology is dangerous” is only true if we fail to take responsibility for how we use it.”

Why is technology in education so important to you as a professor? And why was it important to you as a student? 

“Because of the consequences if we fail to see how/why it can be used poorly. The same technology that allows people to expand their families and has the potential to eliminate generations of crippling disease also possesses the potential for excessive genetic manipulation. It’s shocking to me how few people see the connections—and even more disturbing how quickly real scientific fact is manipulated for personal greed or political fodder. Providing the context and content for enabling a technologically literate society, enables us to embrace facts and enforce an ethical standard. The ethical standards set by the United States have an incredible influence on a global society. We have a significant responsibility to make sure that our students possess the capability to lead.”

In what ways have you been frustrated with tech as an educator, or as a student?

“There’s always something that doesn’t go right at the very last minute. Truthfully, I usually don’t pass on my frustrations to the technology. The biggest challenges I encounter are with instructors who simply refuse to evolve, incorporate, or adapt to the needs of our students. The days of only using PowerPoint to connect are long gone. I have a colleague who is a great advocate for gamification in the classroom. His incorporation of tech to create suspense, motivation, and competition has really transformed my version of acceptable class time. Being a teacher is the toughest job because it is a constant and continual learning process—BUT that’s the job—and we can do a better job of preparing them at the pre-service and in-service level for using technology effectively.”

Is there anything else you would like to add that would be helpful to know? 

“I know how overwhelming it can feel to want to improve your understanding of technology. Pick one thing. Make it your goal for the whole school year. If it’s just content knowledge, use a good book like, How We Got To Now by Steven Johnson. Think about how you can use readings, experiences, and historical perspective to get your students thinking about old and new technology. If you’re struggling with simply using technology in your class, again, keep it basic until you are so comfortable with an app (like Kahoot!) that you can pull something together on the fly. Learning how to use one application effectively and efficiently (e.g., polling students in real-time) is a much better use of your time than trying to run a vlog, and Twitter, and Quizlet. My go-to practice is to know exactly what I can use and when I can use it. It makes me feel tech-powerful.”

Dr. Judd-Murray has great insight into how we can see technology advance every day, as well as both the how and why we use it in the classroom. As she stated, we are using technology to create a relatable environment for students. We are stepping out of our comfort zones to create meaningful content for them. Technology is here to stay, and if we let it, we can use it to solve our problems and make our lives in schools a little easier. 

The Importance Of Students Having A Global Perspective

We have our neighborhoods and communities that kids are aware of. 

We have schools that they know very well. 

The towns they grow up in are a part of them. 

Sometimes even the cities neighboring can be important in their lives as well. 

And of course, our own state has an impact on them. 

But what about moving beyond our states? Or even our nation? What is the importance of giving kids a global perspective? 

Teaching students about global affairs in an authentic way can teach them acceptance and understanding of cultures and others. It can allow them to feel more empathy as they learn more about the various types of living styles. It can open their eyes to see that their lifestyle isn’t how someone else lives. 

They might even have the chance to say, “Hey! This kid is just like me.” 

Having a mindset that our world goes beyond the walls of our schools or the lines of our states gives us millions of minds to collaborate with and help with finding solutions. We can start asking the important questions like, “Why is Singapore’s math curriculum working so well and how can we use it too?” 

There is a better chance they will end up in global careers by learning about them now. 

Students won’t just know about the Great Wall of China, they will understand the history and importance of it, as well as the impacts it has on China’s residents today. 

So start introducing other cultures in your classroom. Give your students the opportunity to interact and collaborate with other students across the globe, through email, skype, or social media. Break down the four walls of your school and the limits of your cities to show our future leaders what a global perspective looks like. 

Featured Image: Pexels.com

Student Access to Writing for a Global Audience

Do you remember the days when you got back from summer vacation and within the first week you did a writing prompt: “What Did You Do For Summer Vacation?” and once you were finished writing it was filed back in your backpack, maybe hung on the fridge by your parents? If you were lucky, your teacher might just hang it up in the hallway for passing students and teachers to read. 

I think the majority of teachers are on the same page that students need an authentic audience to produce authentic work. When they know who they are writing to and why it gives them a purpose to not only write, but write well. So who is their audience? Peers? Teachers? Parents? Maybe they are writing something specifically for their principal? How do we move beyond the walls of our schools and write to a bigger audience? I’m not just talking in our neighborhoods or even states. I’m talking globally.

In my research on writing to a global audience, it seems to be a fairly uncommon thing still. Putting your students work out there for the world to see can be scary, people can be mean with comments and you never know who will see it. It’s also new and different, this new use of technology in schools is still developing, teachers are still being trained in new ways every day to incorporate tech in the classroom. 

So what are the benefits of writing to a global audience? First, having an authentic audience. Everyone has a desire to do better and try harder when they know their results will be public and it gives their writing a deeper purpose. Also, global collaboration can take place. Students have been sharing writing with peers, but what if a student in California sent their “What Did You Do This Summer” paper to a student in Wisconsin and vice-versa? 

Not only could they help peer-edit, but they can compare and contrast a summer in California to a summer in Wisconsin. What if they compared their winter vacations? Can you even imagine the learning that could take place with this type of collaboration? What if the student in California was writing to a student in China? Or India? We can have our kids read about winters in China out of a book and hope they remember it, or we can have them learn about winters in China first-hand from a student who is living there. Which do you think would stick better in their brain? 

Teachers may not know how to start sending out their student’s work to a global audience yet. Some ideas include via email, social media such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and more, SeeSaw, or publish to blogs. Mary wrote more in detail about how to utilize the internet for student writing a few years back. The best part of the internet is that limits do not exist. New platforms pop up each and every day and if something you need doesn’t exist, it’s simple to create it yourself. The internet can be a powerful place if we let it. 

If your students are writing to a global audience, I would love to hear about it! Comment below and let me know how you’re accomplishing this.