This morning I did a round table sessions at the NCTE Annual Convention on the use of various Google tools in the classroom. The session itself went very well and I had the opportunity to meet a number of teachers from around the country who are doing amazing things. In this session I talked about a variety of Google tools, some common, some more obscure, but as I talked about each tool, I tried to give specific examples as to how it might be used in the classroom on a daily basis and, more importantly, ideas on how they could start using it immediately. I made my best effort to give and overview of each of 8 tools in a 20 minute time period and, while I know I didn’t do any single tool the justice that I would have liked, I think I did bring an awareness of some possibilities of each tool. As I now sit and reflect on the session, I think that was my overall goal. There are thousands of how-to’s on all of these tools online and, truly, is a conference really the best place to show people what to click on? I’ve seen too many conference presentations in which a presenter goes through a process of showing how to create a wiki or podcast. Luckily, at NCTE, Kylene Beers brought in Tech-to-go kiosks where people can learn about the specifics of a program or the process of a project. With the introduction of these kiosks, that really should limit the need for the how-to and give presenters far more freedom to explore possibilities and frame the content in theory and real world examples. Now, whether I did that or not, I’m not completely sure, but I think that everyone walked away with something new, either a tool or an idea. At least that’s my hope.
This brings me to why I present at conferences, blog and teach teachers about technology integration. Basically, I remember being in a classroom. I remember what it was like to be so overwhelmed with grades, grading and discipline. I remember the frustration I felt when I was told “No!” by my technology department. But I also remember coming to NCTE for the first time and feeling like my world opened up as a teacher. I also remember trying something new with my students using technology and having it work. I also remember how my students reacted when I told them I needed their help to try something new and how willing they were to give me feedback and help me change my practice. All these things I remember have made me the educator that I am. I try not to say “no” very often and I try to share my knowledge. When I have the opportunity to present content to teachers, I want it to be worth their while, regardless of their technology proficiency, age or content area. I want them to know the “why” as well as the “how.” And I want them to be successful so they will be willing to continue to grow in their journey. That’s why I do what I do. It’s not groundbreaking or all that innovative, but I do believe that it’s real and that, in a small way, it helps.