Saturday, September 17, 2011

Including Technology in a Tricky Situation

In this day and age, it is essential to include technology in student’s education.  We now live in a world with iphones, video games, laptops, ipods, and many other items the students know and use every day.  In my first year of teaching, I was unaware of how to even attempt to include technology with juggling the travelling and time.  With research and teamwork, I found ways to include technology within my curriculum.

When pushing a cart, the last thing on your mind may be to push a laptop/projector cart from room to room.  As hard as it may be, it’s best to try and find some way to include technology, even on top of everything you push around.

Let’s explore some ideas that may assist you in using technology.  If you have ways to share, please add them to the comments!  There’s an unending list of ways to include teaching in this digital age, and I’m just an elementary perspective.

If your school has a computer/wireless lab, check out the schedule with the homeroom classes.  See if there is open space for you to squeeze in a class or two.  This will help some of your classes in using the computers for your own lessons, including art-based websites, or creative programs (such as Adobe and Crayola Art Studio to name a few).

If your school has a mobile wireless cart, reserve it in advance!  The cart is available to all staff in the school, which includes the specials classes.  Similar to the computer lab, you can use the laptops for your art lessons within your own art space.

Speaking of laptops, I acquired a laptop/projector cart at my schools to use with my curriculum, and it’s been amazing.  Previous to having the laptop, I had to use printed 8” x 10” images I found from the computer to introduce lessons (if I didn’t have the full poster print).  Students could barely see it, even if I printed an image for each table.  With the projector, I capture the students’ attention with Power Points, interactive art websites, and videos to introduce lessons.  It’s an extra cart to push, but well worth it.  When pushing the cart from room to room, check where the plugs are at in the classroom in the beginning of the school year, and communicate with the homeroom teacher about when you plan on using your projector.  You may get lucky and the homeroom teacher may have their own laptop/projector set for you to use!

On the topic with Power Points…there are many days that I find getting a wireless connection with a roaming (travelling) school profile just doesn’t work.  That’s where thumb drives come in, and they have been a huge help in tricky situations.  Everything is saved on a thumb drive, and it can go with you everywhere.  Just don’t forget it plugged in at one school when you’re at the next…or you’ll be yelling at yourself when you’re getting back in your car to get it like I do.

Throughout the year, I am always squeezing in pictures of student work and progress for displays.  If you are able to acquire a digital camera through your supply orders or a grant, it has been most helpful, even with documenting for the national board certification.  I’ve been able to send digital photos to the contacts for press releases, school website, and plenty of other uses with pictures.  Make sure that you have the parents’ permission before using photographs or videos.

Does your district offer technology-based professional development?  Here’s a nice idea:  offer to present a technology hour on art-based websites or programs for your co-workers.  This will help open your colleagues to more ways to include the arts within their own classroom, and you may even find ways to co-teach lessons during the school year.

There are also plenty of projects you can plan involving digital cameras, printers, and video, especially with after school projects.  For one project, I created a lesson inspired by the artist who is known for photographing everyday items we use in humorous situations.  My students created their own sculptures, then photographed them posed in comical situations (such as a television yelling at a chair to more).  In our junior high, the art teacher also collaborated with the technology department in making clay-animation videos.  If you don’t have a classroom, you can still acquire a camera and create an after school art class to create clay-animation projects.

I could continue the list of technology for many pages, but the main point is…it is possible to include technology while travelling.  If you have your own ways to include technology, I invite you to share your ideas within the comments.  After all, we need to incorporate 21st century learning skills, and technology is an essential with educating the future of the 21st century.

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