Why are you using tech in your classroom?

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I get asked often to help teachers introduce some type of technology to their classes. Whenever I’m asked, my first question is, “Why?” I don’t ask that to be difficult. I ask because the reason for using technology shouldn’t be ambiguous. I’ve heard teachers say that they want to use tech because 1) their administrator expects it of them; 2) they saw a fellow teacher using something that looked kind of cool; 3) they want a class period where they won’t have to be so hands on; 4) someone told them that if they didn’t get on board, they could lose their job, etc.

All of these reasons are valid to those teachers. However, I’d like to say that they aren’t the best reasons for wanting to use educational technology in your class. Some educators fear not having the answers when our students ask us questions. Which is why some teachers cling to their county adopted and approved textbook to teach from. With technology, we’re constantly surprised by what we find and what our kids are able to do; we do NOT always have the answers since we’re dealing with an unknown. If you’re reading this, you can probably understand that feeling.

So what would I say are good reasons to use technology? If you want your students to become problem solvers, to think outside of the box, to choose what kind of product will showcase what they know, and to push themselves to answer their own questions, these are good reasons to use tech with your classes.

Please, don’t say that you don’t have time for this. Our students are living in digital worlds. Technology use in school is not a trend that will go away like New Math. Make time for what’s important and giving your students the up-to-date education they need is important!

Sway in Office 365

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Before I get into why Sway is a cool tool and how I’ve seen it used, let me give you some back story. For my entire career as a tech coach (a grand four years), I’ve been immersed in everything that is Google. I’m a Google Certified Educator, I’ve promoted Drive to teachers as often as possible, and use it for personal projects because I think it’s so user friendly. Now that I’m working in a district that uses Office 365, I’m getting a hard and fast understanding of everything within the 365 suite of tools. Of those, I am really liking Sway.

Sway is, in my opinion, the love child of PowerPoint and a photo slide show. It’s a great digital storytelling way for students to show what they know. There are several things I like about this program.

First, as a former middle school teacher who allowed students to create in PowerPoint, I <3 the fact that students don’t have many options as far as transitions/actions. Despite my stern warnings, the students would spend 90% of their work time on changing fonts, slide transitions, colors, effects, etc. Then, they’d run out of time and throw the content on the page. During their formal presentation, their audience would be subjected to an assault on their eyes. In Sway, students have limited options to change the formatting of the presentation.

Second, back to those middle school presentations. Besides the assault to the senses, the worst part of being in the audience was listening to the students read. the. entire. slide. Because the format is different, students have to learn brevity and summarization. This is such a great skill that even many adults have difficulty with.

Finally, unlike static programs that live on a student’s device, Sway lives in the Cloud. This means that multiple students can access the presentation at the same time and collaborate together in real time! Hopefully, being able to work at the same time will discourage one student from doing all of the work while the other students sit and stare or disrupt others.

I’m constantly amazed at the new things I see in educational technology. Just today, I watched a roomful of sixth grade students work collaboratively in Sway. Their goals was to create a presentation convincing investors to financially support their inventions, Shark Tank style. Every student was engaged in what they were doing! When I asked students to explain their project, they didn’t just talk to me; they showed me their presentation in Sway!

In what ways can you see this tool being used?

Who am I and why should you read this?


Welcome to my educational technology blog! By reading these entries, you’ll get a good understanding of what my life as a technology coach consists of. Here, you’ll find anecdotes of working with technology as people try it out. You’ll also get helpful tips, tricks, and updates on what’s happening (as I see it) in the world of ed. tech.

You should read this blog for many reasons. But the best of those are: if you are a teacher who loves integrating technology in your classroom; if you want a place to find out what the new trend in education is without getting on social media; if you think you want to be a tech coach and are really curious as to what that day to day life is like; and if you are interested in finding out more about me. 🙂

Are you still here? Great! Let’s get going with the fun stuff!