Thursday, September 20, 2012

Letter to School Board

Letter to the school board:

I worked in technology for 20 years before I found my calling. I was excited about the opportunity to teach children how to learn with technology, as well as to teach teachers how to use technology meaningfully. I was absolutely thrilled when I came to Cambrian and discovered that not only did we have technically excellent IT staff, but we had leadership with the vision and understanding to allow for, and yes fund, innovation and creativity.

It is important in discussions and debate to remain respectful and keep the goal of education in mind. We are here to create lifelong learners. We do what we do, however we do it, to make a difference. Technology …is a tool, not a solution.

Brandon Busteed writes in the Huffington Post that "A technological revolution is happening in the world of education; it is changing schools for the better. But, it will never change the definition of and need for great teaching."

In the 6 months that the Academy has been together we have discovered and developed creative learning opportunities for our students. They have made movies about missions to MARS, they have published stories to iBooks, they have been engaged and engrossed in activities throughout the curriculum, all on free apps! My principal speaks of 100 % engagement during personal white board math work, where my students, using Doodle Buddy, know they might get called on to show their work, but more likely because they are hoping to get called on so they can show OFF their work by taking over AppleTV!

In addition to learning in the content areas, students are also learning 21st century skills. It is no surprise that our students are engaged and excited about learning. They are authentically collaborating and creating and teaching each other with apps like “Explain Everything”, and yes, Sock Puppets. Students are able to research topics more deeply. Even though we don’t know what technology will look like when our kids are in the work force, they will have a foundation because of what they are learning now.

Finally, beyond preparing our students, we are working to create tools for our colleagues. We are creating a set of best practices, app recommendations and do’s and don’ts to help teachers as they adopt this technology. We are working to ensure that implementation for these teachers will help all of us to work more efficiently and effectively to provide a high tech and high touch education to our children.

None of us in the academy feel that an iPad replaces a teacher or even replaces the need for good teaching. Neal Brown, principal in Rockville MD put it nicely, “It’s not really about the iPad, it’s about building a facility with technology, and using technology to give kids the opportunity to build their skills, and the opportunity to pursue their passions,”

Technology doesn't make me a better teacher, but it can help me teach better. The message is simple: This is not a technology expense; it’s an investment in our students and their future!

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