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Essay About Teacher For Class One Technology

(This is the first post in a two-part series on this topic.)

This  week's question is:

What are the Dos and Don'ts of having a successful one-to-one computing (where every student at a school gets a device) program?

Though the iPad debacle at Los Angeles schools might have slowed-down the expansion of one-to-one computer programs, more and more schools are adopting the practice.

Today, and later this week in Part Two, experienced educators will share their advice on how to successfully implement such a program.  I'm also eager to publish ideas from readers, and hope to receive many of them.

Today, Alice Barr, Mark Pullen and Troy Hicks will share their suggestions.  Part Two will include contributions from Richard Byrne, Nancy Frey, Doug Fisher and comments from readers.

You might also be interested in a ten-minute podcast conversation I had with Alice and Troy on this same topic.

I have no personal experience with a one-to-one program, but have compiled these resources that readers might find helpful:

The Best Resources On "One-To-One" Laptop/Tablet Programs

The Best Advice On Using Education Technology

The Best Research Available On The Use Of Technology In Schools

The Best Resources For Beginning iPad Users

Now, for today's guests:

Response From Alice Barr

Alice Barr is the high school Instructional Technology Integrator at Yarmouth High School, in Maine, a 1:1 laptop school since 2004. She is also a Google Certified Teacher and teaches classes on incorporating technology into education for The Professional Development Center at The University of Southern Maine. Follow her on Twitter at @alicebarr:

There is plenty of discussion about preparing our students to become innovative, digital, and global citizens. Many schools have addressed these skills by making the decision to have 1:1 technology in their classrooms. A Pew Internet and American Life Project report found that digital technology has become central to classroom work, but that it also offers challenges. How can a 1:1 classroom complement the way we teach our students?

Students Manage the Rollout

The most important thing that I have found to a successful 1:1 program is having students involved at every level. It starts when we issue the computers in the fall. Members of the Student Senate tech committee put together a presentation with updated information, guidelines and a bit of humor. They also offer support during the grade level assembly on making sure the network card works, logging in to email, and set up of the backup software.

Classroom Habits

We can write down and post the guidelines for technology use but if students don't make appropriate technology use part of their daily practice, it won't work.Modeling how to use technology is key. If the rule is not to eat or drink near the computer, then everyone, including the teacher, must practice and remind others.

In our building, there are designated areas to store laptops during breaks and lunch so they are not just left all over the place. If a teachers turns in an unattended computer, students must sign" the book". There is a page for every student with three questions to answer: 1) What happened? 2) What was the result?  and 3) What will you do differently next time? The first time it happens, it is a warning. Second time is an after school detention. The third time is a period by period check out or a loss of take home privileges. It really helps students remember when they write the infraction down in their own writing.

Classroom Jobs

Many classrooms have weekly jobs. Some of these can be adding the homework on the class calendar, posting the classroom news to the class blog or being the photographer of the week. As we work harder to make our classrooms transparent, publishing our work on online has made a positive difference in supporting what we do with technology in the classroom. Students help with the management and take great pride in being part of that process.

Students as Technical Support

Students are excellent help desk assistants. In some classes it is also a weekly job. They are helpful when it comes to giving a quick tech tip, suggesting alternate programs, and fixing the projector or printer. Students can also help set the tone for how the hardware will be used. One of the things that we find is that over the years is that the number of repairs has gone down. Aside from having more durable machines we have found that students take good care of their computers because they have to have the device for class. It is an expectation that they will use it in class.

Giving Students Choice

One big change we have seen is the way students present their work. They want to create. We made a page of suggested digital tools for projects. It's linked on the technology page and we tweak it every year. Teachers can link to the site when assigning a project and they have learned to use Google Forms to "collect" digital projects. Student assignments can be differentiated giving every student the success they deserve.

Be Prepared for the Messiness

There's no question that teaching with technology can be messy. No one has said we must completely shift everything we do to technology.  Try one new thing at a time. As it becomes part of everyday practice, you can add more. One example is to try an activity with one section of a class. Or try a low stakes, fun project before the real one. Be sure to get feedback from students.

I believe the benefit of a 1:1 classroom is the amazing work and learning that students and teachers can achieve. Our students deserve to learn in an innovative, digital environment.

Response From Mark Pullen

Mark Pullen teaches third grade in a 1:1 classroom in East Grand Rapids, Michigan. He blogs about his experiences at, and his twitter handle is @mpullen:

Are you fortunate enough to be teaching in a 1:1 classroom?  Starting a 1:1 program for the first time?  Here are three quick suggestions based on my four years teaching in a 1:1 third-grade classroom.

1.  Let 1:1 technology transform your teaching

It's easy to use technology to keep doing what you've always done, without harnessing its power to change the way you actually teach.  But 1:1 technology should be more than just a way of changing from a paper/pencil worksheet to a digital worksheet. 

I find it helpful to think of three ways in which access to 1:1 technology can transform your teaching: as a differentiation tool, a creativity tool, and a connection tool.  When you're planning a lesson or a unit in a 1:1 classroom, ask yourself: How can technology enhance the differentiation in this lesson?  How can it be used to allow my students to display more creativity in this lesson?  Finally, how can the technology be used to connect my students to others (such as by giving their writing an audience or allowing them to Skype with a subject-matter expert in the topic being studied)?

2.  Tap into your students' expertise

No matter what age level you're teaching, your students will come to you with extensive prior technology experience.  Make the most of it!  Encourage your students to work together to solve their various technology-related questions rather than looking solely to the teacher for tech support.  In addition, make your tech-based assignments as open-ended as possible: rather than asking your students to create a PowerPoint about the non-fiction topic they've been studying, why not invite them to create a multimedia project of their choosing?  You'll end up with a more fun and diverse collection of projects, and your students will gain exposure to a wide variety of multimedia options as they view each others' work.

3.  Don't expect your students to fully understand digital ethics and safety

This may seem to contradict the previous point, but even though your students will come to you with a wealth of previous tech experience, it's not safe to assume that they fully understand the perils and permanence of the Internet.  You'll need to explicitly teach them to steer clear of plagiarism, to be judicious in what information they share publicly online, to treat others with kindness, and to engage in civil discourse in their online conversations. 

Many of your students will come to you knowing how to use the computer as an entertainment tool, but not an educational or creative tool.  It will take explicit instruction for some of your students to learn to use their 1:1 device in a productive, educational way.  This is not a bad thing; in fact, I see it as one of the biggest opportunities a 1:1 classroom offers, as helping students to become productive, civil digital citizens is essential to their future success.

Response From Troy Hicks

Dr. Troy Hicks is an associate professor of English at Central Michigan University and focuses his work on the teaching of writing, literacy and technology, and teacher education and professional development. A former middle school teacher, he collaborates with K-12 colleagues and explores how they implement newer literacies in their classrooms. Follow him @hickstro and at

Congratulations! You are embarking on a 1:1 initiative this fall, a process that is bound to be both exhilarating and frustrating all at once.

You've probably heard the standard advice about how to successfully implement 1:1, and your students can learn to search more effectively, develop creative project-based learning, and share their ideas with the world with lots of great web-based tools and apps. So, I won't repeat all of that advice here. Instead, I want you to think beyond the device.

Because, in short, 1:1 is not about the device at all.

Because, as with all good teaching, 1:1 is really about building effective relationships.

In a time where most of the public discourse about students and technology use centers on the negative effects of cyberbullying and leaving the wrong kind of digital footprint, I encourage you to take time with your students to talk about the kind of relationships they want to build with their peers, both in the classroom and around the world.

For instance, we can help students build relationships with one another through writing. By guiding them through the process and then helping them learn how to reply -- critically, yet kindly -- to the work of their peers, writing can be a powerful relationship-building tool. Paul Allison and his colleagues who coordinate the Youth Voices network acts as mentors to students. Together, they create a respectful, engaging space for teens to share their writing.

Their mission is to have youth "voice their thoughts about their passions, to explain things they understand well, to wonder about things they have just begun to understand, and to share discussion posts with other young people." To help create better writers and foster thoughtful responses, Allison and his colleagues have created a number of guides, or templates, for students to use as they learn how to reply to one another. Through thoughtful dialogue, students develop trust and respect for each other as writers and responders.

Another possibility for relationship building is to be proactive about the ways in which we help students create a Digital ID. The two teachers who coordinate this project, Gail Desler and Natalie Bernasconi, argue that "It is only by developing a clear sense of both our rights and our responsibilities that we can become fully engaged, contributing 'Citizens' of all the communities in which we find ourselves." Their curriculum includes four foci: "Stepping Up" (Against Cyberbullying) "Building Identities," "Boundaries" (for copyright and intellectual property) and "Online Privacy." Their students have created a variety of Digital ID projects, including Public Service Announcements. In the process of understanding their own digital identities, they learn to respect others, too.

For both Youth Voices and Digital ID, these teachers have taken the time to build relationships with students, and invited students to build relationships with one another. While 1:1 gives us the opportunity to have a device in every child's hands, please don't let the device do the teaching. Take time to talk with your students, inviting them to think about who they are as individuals as well as the person, the individual, that they are interacting with on the other side of the screen.

By focusing on relationships, and not just on the latest app or website, we can encourage 1:1 learning that connects students to one another, not just to a device.

Thanks to Alice, Mark and Troy for their contributions!

Please feel free to leave a comment your reactions to the topic or directly to anything that has been said in this post.  I'll be publishing comments from readers in a few days.

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at [email protected].When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it's selected or if you'd prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind. You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo.

Anyone whose question is selected for weekly column can choose one free book from a number of education publishers. I'll be highlighting one particular publisher every two months, and it's Routledge's turn now.

Just a reminder -- you can subscribe to blog for free via RSS Reader or email.... And,if you missed any of the highlights from the first two years of blog, you can see a categorized list of them here. You won't see posts from school year in those compilations, but you can review those new ones by clicking in the monthly archives link on blog's sidebar.

You can also see annual lists of my most popular posts.

Education Week has published a collection of posts from blog -- along with new material -- in an ebook form.  It's titled Classroom Management Q&As: Expert Strategies for Teaching.

Last, but not least, I've recently begun recording a weekly eight-minute BAM! Radio podcast with educators who provide guest responses to questions.  You can listen and/or download them here.

I'll be posting Part Two in a few of days....

Experience might not necessarily be the "best" teacher, but it almost always results in the most enduring lessons. Recently, we asked members of the Education World Tech Team to tell us about their most unforgettable teaching -- and learning -- experiences. Included: An opportunity to share your best lessons.

The book Ooops, What We Learn When Our Teaching Fails, edited by Brenda Miller Power and Ruth Shagoury Hubbard, is a compilation of essays by teachers describing their worst teaching experience and what they learned from it. For this article, members of the Education World Tech Team have written their own essays, revealing the best, the worst, the funniest, and the most embarrassing experiences of their teaching careers.

"My worst teaching experience was with a third grade class in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia," Bernie Poole told Education World. "I'd been teaching for ten years in England and Nigeria, but this was my first contract as a teacher of English as a foreign language at The Riyadh Schools, a private school for (mostly) Saudi boys.

"I didn't know any Arabic when I arrived in Riyadh, which was the first problem. For the most part, the boys' English was rudimentary, and communication was very difficult indeed. Another problem was cultural. My teaching style and body language didn't get the response I expected from these students. They soon were all over me and very difficult to control (Although I never before had had a problem with classroom management.) Yet another problem was one that substitute teachers routinely deal with -- taking over someone else's class mid-year.

"Fortunately, my first contract was for only six months. I struggled through, and more or less held things together. Along the way, I learned a good bit of Arabic; I also learned, from watching the school's Arab teachers, what strategies might be effective in ensuring good behavior on the part of the students.

"When I returned for my second contract, I had a whole new class of third graders, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and the first words out of my mouth were in Arabic! A hushed silence fell over the room...It was like magic. To cut a long story short, we had a wonderful time together for the rest of the year.

"What did I learn from the experience? That you're never too old to learn!"

Few teachers have forgotten the lessons learned during their first year teaching.

"My worst teaching experience was my first year teaching," said Beth Gregor. "I was young and naive and teaching eighth grade language usage from a cart, so I was assigned whatever classroom was available. For one period that year, I was assigned to the music room -- which worked out OK until the music teacher started leaving out the musical instruments he was using that day. Every desk had a different musical instrument on it -- instruments like mini drums, recorders and gourd shakers.

"The music room was off by itself -- because, of course, the students make lots of music -- and was located at the opposite end of the school from the room in which my previous class was held. The students were supposed to wait outside the music room door until I arrived, although they rarely did.

Is there an unforgettable moment in your teaching career? E-mail your memory to [email protected]. If enough teachers share their memories, we'll include them in a future article -- so other teachers can learn from your experiences.

"One day, as I was pushing my cart down the hallway toward the music room, I heard some strange noises -- and they were not music noises. My students were "playing" the instruments, and they were playing them to their own personal rhythms. I went into the room and sat down on the stool, wondering if teaching was for me. The students were already out of control -- and class had not even begun. I knew from experience that if I yelled, they would not pay attention, so I closed the classroom door and just watched them play the instruments. That day, we had a music lesson instead of a language usage lesson. Sometimes, you just have to go with the flow."

"One of my worst teaching experiences occurred during my very first year teaching," Stew Pruslin recalled. "I was teaching fifth and sixth grade at a private religious school. The students were doing a science project that involved buckets of water, and my 'fiscally responsible' school had supplied us with cheap, coated-cardboard buckets. As you can imagine, the buckets burst, flooding the room and dripping into the office downstairs, right onto the secretary's typewriter and onto the secretary herself. The experience did provide a great story for parties -- and perhaps a lesson for the school as well."

For some, a few words uttered in an unfamiliar teaching situation have led to surprising lessons.

"During my first year as a regular classroom teacher after five years as a sub, I was teaching in a rural school, in a class that had managed -- with their attitudes and behaviors -- to drive out their former teacher," John Tiffany remembered. "One day, in a burst of rage and frustration, I uttered the words "Jesus Christ!" Soon after, someone left a picture of Jesus Christ himself on my desk. It was a humbling lesson in self-control and in not letting students get the better of me."

"I wouldn't call this my worst teaching experience," Jenka Guevara said, "but it was a learning experience! One day, I explained a concept to one of my advanced classes. That afternoon while reviewing what I had done, I realized that I had made a mistake in my explanation. The next day, I started class with the words 'I am sorry,' and then I gave the correct explanation. Instead of being angry, the students clapped and thanked me for acknowledging my mistake! Lesson learned: Do not be afraid to accept responsibility for your errors."

"I'm not sure what category this experience falls under," Nicholas Langlie told Education World, "but I'll call it an 'enlightening experience.'

"My first semester teaching at the college level, in an attempt to inject into the class some humor that referenced popular culture, I referred to a song by a rock band popular when I was a young teen. I expected that the class would understand the reference. Instead, a student said something I never would have foreseen. She said, 'Watch it, Mr. Langlie, you're dating yourself.' That experience was a demarcation point for me as an educator -- the line between being able to fit in with my students as 'one of them,' and becoming 'one of THEM' to my students. All of a sudden, I was an authority figure, responsible in presence, not just in mind.

"After that class, I could think of nothing else. It occurred to me that I was not cool and that it was OK to be 'not cool.' It was the dawn of a new era for me. All of a sudden, I had a new tool in my bag of tricks -- 'being un-cool.' I could be my academic self. I didn't need to seek validation from my students by 'getting it' according to the rules of their generation. I could do the opposite; I could unabashedly express what my students call my 'dorkdom,' and use it, often in a calculated and self-deprecating way, to get my students to learn and retain what I was teaching them.

"So the very next day -- my second class at the college level -- I told my students that I had come to the realization that I was not cool anymore. I was not the cool guy that teenage naivete once led me to believe I was.

"Some of my students were amazed, others were indifferent, and some (at least one) thought I was crazy. For the first time, however, I was able to make fun of myself and to use that self-deprecating humor as a tool to get my students actively engaged in exploring the subject matter. I can proudly (yet humbly) say it was the best class I have ever taught."

Remember when education technology was new? Everyone had some lessons to learn!

"One of my worst experiences as a technology trainer involved a classroom teacher who just didn't want to learn to use technology," Robin Smith recalled. "He had made up his mind that technology was something he was not going to get involved with. Moreover, he was rude. He talked when I was talking, did everything except what was asked of him, and basically refused to be part of the class. I tried standing close to his desk, asking if he needed help, ignoring him It was hopeless. To make matters worse, he was a veteran teacher whom many others looked up to.

"During one 3 1/2 hour training session, I reached a point where I couldn't take it anymore. I asked the class to stop and listen. I told them I understood that some people didn't want to be there and if they didn't want to participate, they should leave so others could learn. I didn't have a problem with them leaving, I told them -- although I would be required to report their names to the superintendent -- but if they stayed, I said (looking directly at the offender), they had to be quiet and participate. I also pointed out that if their students acted the way some of them were acting, they would be assigned detention. Then I stood behind the person causing the problems. He quieted down after that; although he didn't always follow the assigned tasks, he did stop complaining. Later, though, I heard him talking in the hall about how I was treating him like a child and had embarrassed him in front of the rest of the class.

"About three years later, I had the same teacher in a class again and he chuckled about the episode. He now is a big user of technology. He never actually apologized to me, but when other teachers had problems, he helped them and told them they should pay attention to what I was saying."

"One of my funniest teaching experiences," Smith added, "was when I was training teachers how to use e-mail. Evidently, one veteran teacher had listened to only part of the session about sending e-mail and hadn't listened at all to the part about receiving e-mail. A few days after the training session, the teacher came to me and said he had a problem with his e-mail; he was sending a lot of messages, but no one was getting them. I asked him to explain. He said he had sent about 20 e-mail messages, but none had been received. He had sent two e-mails to himself to make sure they were going through, but those hadn't arrived in his mailbox either.

"After asking a few questions, I discovered a couple of problems: First, he expected the test e-mails he sent himself to physically appear in his snail mail box in the school office. In fact, he walked to his mailbox several times a day to see if they were there. (He thought the e-mail messages that appeared in his inbox were just copies of what he had sent.)

Second, the reason no one else was receiving the e-mails he sent was because he was typing only the recipient's name in the TO: box. He didn't realize that he had to type in an actual e-mail address. He thought the computer would 'know' who John Smith was if he only typed in the name John Smith. (He didn't even have an address book set up!)

"I am happy to say that that teacher now sends me e-mail on a regular basis!"

"For me," Smith said, "the best teaching experiences occur when you see the light bulbs flicking on and know they understand. I have had the pleasure of training many people, some with very low technology skills and technophobia, so scared they are going to break something that they are afraid to do anything. When they learn that they can do something they never imagined they could do, or realize that the technology will save them time, a wave of enthusiasm washes over them. It is such a nice thing to be a part of.

"The very best moments are when someone you've taught tells you that you are extremely patient (I am not normally a very patient person!) or comes back later to tell you how much they've used the skill you taught them, or how what you taught them has helped them be a better teacher.

"Another great moment is when they are so excited about what you are teaching them that they constantly comment about how cool it is, or how much it will help them, or how much fun they are having. Those are the lessons you wish you could repeat over and over. They are what keep us doing what we do!"

The Education World Tech Team includes more than 50 dedicated and knowledgeable educational-technology professionals who have volunteered to contribute to occasional articles that draw on their varied expertise and experience. The following Tech Team members contributed to this article:

* Beth Gregor, pre-K-4- technology teacher and elementary technology coordinator, Pleasantdale Elementary School, La Grange, Illinois
* Jenka Guevara, HS-CS teacher (grades 9-12), American School Foundation, Mexico City, Mexico
* Nicholas Langlie, online teaching/learning support, Hudson Valley Community College, Troy, New York
* Bernie Poole, associate professor of education and instructional technology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Johnstown, Pennsylvania
* Stew Pruslin, third grade teacher, J. T. Hood School, North Reading, Massachusetts
* Robin Smith, educational technology specialist, Hollidaysburg Area School District, Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania
* John Tiffany, science teacher, Wauseon High School, Wauseon, Ohio

Article by Linda Starr
Education World®
Copyright © Education World


Updated 04/30/2012