Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Scared to jump in?

My son is 9 years old and just got his first actual iPhone. I didn't buy it for him, but in this day and age, I'll admit that he's perfectly "old" enough for it. He is thoroughly proud and protective of it...and has made sure to point out that it's better than mine. Nice one, kid. :)

This started a fun conversation in the car though. I told him that I was pretty excited about this upcoming year in school. Our school principal is really onboard with integrating devices (appropriately!) in class and I'm really thinking ahead about how to do that even in music. Not only am I thrilled that he'll be prepared with his device, but I've already laid claim to his old iPod touch to use as another device in my music room. Hooray!

That's not the interesting conversation though. We talked about technology and people and teachers who are likely to embrace it. I told him that I just knew his teachers on his upcoming grade level team would be excited about using technology (um, sorry....no pressure!) but not everyone in every school feels like this. Some are hesitant because they just didn't grow up with technology like his generation obviously has. We talked about typewriters, early computers and I even described the fascinating machine my grandparents used to communicate with my hearing-impaired aunt over the phone in the 1980's. Technology has changed so quickly that it's impossible to keep up even for those who have an interest. For those who don't have a particular interest?....I can't even imagine!!

I am lucky that I grew up in a "plugged-in" home. In fact, I have never known a home without a computer. (And I grew up through the 80's before PC's were really popular in middle-class homes.) My dad is a techie. We had a Radio Shack TRS-80 (I think?) as early as I can remember.  
Radio Shack TRS-80

Funny story....my dad subscribed to some sort of programmer's magazine and I can remember one that arrived in the mail. He asked if I wanted to program the computer. He sounded really excited about it and convinced me to type in a couple lines. I was pretty young and barely knew my letters (much less the arrangement of the QWERTY keyboard!) so it took awhile....I thought for sure something magical would happen when I was done! When I was finally finished, he ran the program and I thought it would talk to me or play a game of Pong with me.....ha ha, nope. It went "BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP." Now, the nostalgic techie nerd in me would like to say that I was filled with wonder and awe, but.....but.....I felt a bit ripped off. But hey, our memories can't all be winners.

I've gotten off track. Needless to say, I was inspired by my dad....and later my mom.....and my brothers (all tech nerds in some way or another).....to pursue my interests in the tech world somehow. Not because I have to, but because I want to! 

I realize not everyone likes or understands this stuff, and that's okay. But the greatest thing about modern technology is that you don't have to be an expert. In fact, there is no such thing. I love the blog entry linked in that last statement....read it and be assured by Angela Watson's words! Stamp "life-long tech learner" on your forehead and dip your toes in. It's okay to try and fail. In fact, that's how I learn about 80-85% of my tech skills....no joke! User manuals and help menus are my last resorts. (Should I admit that?) I click buttons and I explore menus....if I don't find what I need, I Google my exact question and usually come up with the answers I need. 

If you're having trouble integrating technology into your lessons, set some small goals. Practice your lesson with a teammate or with a family member at home. It doesn't have to be complicated to be great!! Ask around and have an open mind. You're not alone and there's someone (like me!) in your school or community willing to share resources or skills to get you started.

Please share your personal fears and/or victories about integrating technology in the classroom by leaving me a comment!

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