Stop looking for new tools and start looking for new ideas –


Note: I wrote this in 2017 and never published it, and today it’s not so relevant anymore. But there’s an idea or two you might find useful, so I’m posting it here.

While new programs and resources and models for teachers, etc. are almost always useful, you probably have enough “tools”.

There are cloud-based word processors like Google Drive (How to use Google Drive in class) note taking appscollaboration tools for project-based learning, e-book resources, and more.

Added to the fray are the bookmarking tools that allow for a kind of hoarding of tools like these (and whatever else sounds interesting. The internet is full of information and tools to organize this information that you will save, consult and possibly will use tomorrow.

Or next week. Or next semester or school year.

You don’t save it for later; you save it because it has apparent value.

Human nature

By nature, we like to collect objects. “Pin them”. Feature them. Like them and share them, read them, store them, browse them, consider them, analyze them and integrate them.

The challenge is only a matter of time: most teachers have more resources than they could use in their lifetime, so their constant search for the next big app, learning or social media tool is a do-gooder version of extreme couponing.

The right tool can indeed make teaching easier, more effective, more sustainable and/or more engaging for both teacher and students. But excess can be worse than scarcity in that it stifles, discourages, deadens and stifles innovation. And once you get into the habit of “hunting” rather than learning, the tone of your use of technology changes and tends towards technological “abuse”.

The right tool can indeed make teaching easier, more effective, more sustainable and/or more engaging for both teacher and students. But excess can be worse than shortage.

Of course, it never feels awful or overwhelming. Worst-case scenario, you save things you can’t find, or you end up with an embarrassing pile of messages, emails, or Evernote files that never see the light of day.

Time requirements

All in all, you could be missing out on an incredible opportunity to find the best ideas and resources you can incorporate into your classroom. It’s like going to a giant, bustling market and being so overwhelmed with all the “stuff” that you buy very little – or become paralyzed with choices.

Teaching, I don’t need to tell you, is an incredibly demanding profession, and many of your colleagues probably shun technology for that very reason. Teachers are wary of overtime requests, especially those whose significant adoption could burden an already busy schedule.

The endless evolution of technology

While technology will certainly evolve, this could one day be considered the golden age of tech: a period filled with enthusiasm for tools (e.g. ChatGTP), new social media applications (e.g. Threads), short-form video trends, YouTube improvements, and constant changes to tools like Google Drive, Google Classroom, Microsoft’s suite of digital tools, and more. But we can also be victims of our own success: so much great hardware, so much innovative software, and so many emerging toys that we momentarily gag.

Our challenge, then, is to shift our ways of thinking – and the urgency of adoption – in light of this tremendous and unprecedented access.

None of this is to say you should stop finding cool stuff that’s better than what you have. And saving that cool stuff isn’t a crime either. But if you spend more time hunting than using, seeking than integrating, discovering than creating, you may need to turn the tide of the river and reevaluate how and why you use the tools at your disposal. .

Our challenge, then, is to shift our ways of thinking – and the urgency of adoption – in light of this tremendous and unprecedented access.

Of course, this is not a dichotomy: heavy use of technology, or no technology at all. There is scope – and need – for an appropriate scale and pattern of technology adoption. We need tools that support and enhance our teaching – which ultimately should benefit children. Overview, research and conservation are absolutely part of it. But a fascination with technological (and non-technological) tools can do more harm than good.

(I just realize that maybe I’m talking to myself more than anyone here; I’m guilty of almost all of the above.)

Consider adopting a “one-semester” rule: if you haven’t even thought about it (let alone used it) the whole semester. At worst, do the “cleanup”, whatever it’s worth, and run it. Something brighter or actually “better” is definitely on the way.

Be careful of investing too much in or depending on tools that come and go like turning a page. You can always spend hours on Google, social media or social videos to find it.

I guess my point is that ideas are more primitive and informative and raw and suitable for a range of teaching opportunities for you and learning opportunities for children and sometimes shiny new tools can be more a distraction than a boon.

Lessons are created from resources such as instructional maps, graphic organizers, etc., which are the product of ideas.

See also 5 Tips for Teaching Art in Any Field

New ideas

Or perhaps create a central core or core of solid, timeless pedagogy: retrospective planning, student engagement, units that provide flexible data that makes it more accessible to you to review planned instruction, lessons that depend on critical thinking, inquiry, etc., to function. .’

And then complement that with the latest tool or trend, especially when that technology (eg, artificial intelligence) is changing or soon will change the world outside of your classroom.

In other words, focus less on tools (the “how”) and more on ideas (the “what” and “why”).

New ideas are different.

Ideas create need for the tools.

Ideas represent where the tools come from and how those ideas are used in your program and in the classroom.

Ideas create lessons.

Lessons create ideas.

And moreover, ideas replace tools (like technology) in the same way that an author and his ideas replace his tools for research or publishing and marketing, etc.

In fact, the technology itself is the product of a idea.

Any “thing”: classroom standards, apps, tools, quizzes, field discussions (see also 50 sentence stems for critical reading) – is above all an idea.

Never forget where the ideas come from and, more importantly, what it takes TO DO with an idea.


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