Regina S. Owens

Regina S. Owens, Ed. D., is an internationally recognized presenter and practitioner who specializes in creating a culture of interdependence and collaboration while utilizing systems thinking.

From Cool Technologies to Critical Thinking

Why is it that the 21st century education is being defined by where the teaching is occurring and the technology that is utilized?

There is the brick and mortal classroom where teaching is delivered in a traditional school.  There is the blended classroom, where teaching is delivered both in the traditional classroom and online.  There is the virtual classroom where teaching is available totally in the online environment.

In my experience designing authentic engaging learning experiences for students and teachers, one realization is increasingly clear.

It doesn’t matter what type of classroom that the teaching is being delivered in nor the technology that is being utilized.

What matters is designing a learning environment where the facilitator of learning, teachers or student, has the knowledge to choose a technology – a tool – not because it is cute or fun or because it is the latest and greatest gadget, but because it delivers the most important result of education: learning.

To Focus on Learning, one of the three big ideas of a professional learning community, it is critical as educators that we choose technologies that result in the following:

  1. Creating critical thinkers
  2. Ensuring standards are mastered at the appropriate level
  3. Connecting learning skills and twenty-first-century tools that result in learners who are information, communication, and technology literate.

To learn more, visit the P21 website, check out Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy, or read 21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn.

As educators and learners, it is possible and powerful to move our students…

  • From blackboards to blogs
  • From classrooms to cyberspace
  • From pencils to postings
  • From isolation to innovation
  • From cool technologies to critical thinking



I aim to infuse technology during my instruction as often as possible. Technology is used for whole group instruction as well as independant activities. The implementation of technology in my classroom has increased student engagement in my classroom, which in turn has boosted student achievement. For example, reading and writing are areas most of my students struggle with, and each September during an inventory, most of my students indicate these subjects are their least favorite. However, technology offers massive stimulation and most of my students forget how much they "dislike" reading and writing, especaiily with bonus points most websites offer as an incentive. I use a promethean board, which benefits all my diverse learners. Student engagement and mastery are not the only perks I receive. I enjoy monitoring the progress of my students, such as their lexile levels. I also take pleasure in saving paper and being able to have my students take their assessments online. Today's society revolves around technology, and it is critical for us as educators to keep generation Y up with the times!

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I have never heard of a Promethean Board. Is there a website that you would recommend for ESL?

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I have been eagerly seeking great ideas and ways to better incorporate technology into my lessons. Currently I have been pondering using blogs in my eighth grade Italian classroom. Unfortunately the school I teach in, though they highly promote the use of technology in the classroom, is not technologically equipped. How do you work around the glitches of using technology? For instance, equipment doesn't function properly. I agree that technology is a great tool in incouraging critical thinking. Students are always more engaged when technology is involved. I feel that the blogs are also a great tool for students to reflect on the lesson of day or the week and collaborate with each other outside of school. Thank you for your insights.

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Technology is great. When used correctly, it helps students stay engaged. As I work in elementary school, students love to use the Promethean Board. It is an awesome tool to help with participation. Nevertheless, this technology does not teach kids. It is what we do that helps each kid learn. We need to come up with lessons that use the Promethean Board to promote learning. Additionally, technology does not substitute hands on experiences. While I could share the results of an experiment on my Promethean Board, the students would not get as much out of the experiment had they done it for themselves. In all, technology is amazing and changing every second, but it is what we do as educators that changes the world.

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Technology has its place. It all depends on a students learning style. I know that to remember facts I have to write them down. One problem that I see with technology in the school is the damage that the students do to the computers. They are always in need of repair. Connecting to the internet is not always possible and can be frustrating if a lesson is planned with particular information required.

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Mark Fisher

I teach high school math and I am a big believer in developing critical thinking skills. I have found the use of technology to help me accomplish this. An example of this is the use of TI-83 Graphing Calculators to help speed up the process of solving both “systems of equations” and “quadratic equations.” I still teach my students how to do these by hand so they have the basic knowledge and skills for how to solve them. Yet, when you start dealing with real-world problems and situations that incorporate these types of problems, the process of solving the actual problem can get very long and cumbersome to do and can take away from the analysis of the problem. By having my students use any one of several methods via the graphing calculator to solve the actual equations quickly, they are able to spent much more time thinking about and analyzing the problem itself, the solution, and the implications of what they solution is telling them. So in this case, the technology is invaluable in helping to develop critical thinking skills.

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I agree with the lack of training teachers seem to receive regarding new technology in classrooms. My district seems to "throw" a lot of new technology tools at us as options to teach with. However, my school shares one In-tech person with the entire district. We only see this person once a week, on Mondays, during our planning time. How many teachers have time during Monday's planning period to explore technology? I usually spend my Mondays writing class newsletters, finalizing lesson plans, and getting the week's materials in order. We get weekly emails with several technology tools, but I don't have time to explore all of the tools to determine which ones foster creativity, critical thinking, problem solving skills, and research skills, or which ones are appropriate for my grade level. I welcome technology, and think it is crucial to teach with in order to motivate today's generation of students. However, I feel I need more guidance and focused training time to successfully implement it in my classroom.

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With the advances in technology, it is important to remember what we are really here to do. As was mentioned earlier, we are here to educate. Now, at the same time, we can't be scared to use the most up to date technology in our classrooms. The use of these devices can play an instrumental role in the tesching of your students.
When I taught in South Korea, there was a law (from what I have been told) that every classroom must have a projector or TV that is connected to a computer. The use of these devices made my life as a techer easier, especially when I taught the same subject multiple times through the day. I planned my lesson at home (sometimes with the help of my students) and I would bring it in on my USB and teach my class. I liked this because it was easier to teach and alot easier to read and understand than my chicken scratch on the board. But, my main focus was not on the technology, but how the technology allowed my students to understand my lesson more completely.

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I agree with comments that you make about technology and it's use in the classroom. Technology is a fantastic tool and enables us to do countless things that we never would have imagined before. Technology is changing at a very rapid pace and we are constantly bombarded by the new and innovative ways to do various things and accomplish numerous tasks. When I was a child, we still used the chalkboard. Computers were still fairly new and we didn't use the internet until my middle and high school years. As a teacher in today's day and age, I see technology advancing faster than I can keep up. I am still learning how to use the Smart Board when all of a sudden Ipads and Ipods are the new phase. Interactive slates, clickers, promethian boards, blogs, virtual classrooms and much more is now at our fingertips. Children learn differently today than they did when I was a child in the classroom. Gone are the days of lecturing while students sit, listen, and take notes. Today, we as educators must learn how to use the technology that is available to educate our students. I think that when technology is first available we begin using it because it is cute such as the SmartBoard which has hundreds of "cute" lessons available. However, to teach using technology we must make sure that the method in which the technology is being used is teaching the concept that must be taught effectivitely. As long as students are learning what they need to learn, are gaining an education that promotes critical thinking and problem solving, and is teaching them how to use the tool as a positive resource, then it is okay to use the technology. As teachers we must make sure that we are using it for the right reasons. Students are much more engaged in learning when they are able to be interactive and hands on and technology really enables students to do just that. Teaching strategies must be effective and lessons using technology must be used to ensure that students are successful.

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Michael Mullis

I appreciate the comments made in all of the forums concerning technology. I came to teaching later in life and have been exposed to many new technologies. They are fun to work with because they were not available when I was a student, but I question their effectiveness overall.
It seems that in many cases technology is not efficient, and I see what the students learned faster in the traditional ways via pen and paper. Having a student use technology for the sake of using technology does not work. There must be an element to technology that helps critical thinking and learning. Using Twitter to communicate with students does not make any sense when the amount of information is limited and the time it takes to tweet.
In the end we need to be using technology that is being utilized in the workplace to help make our students become marketable in the work force. It seems that many students and teachers like social media, but I do not see the critical thinking in it.
Technology an help our students by providing simulations and challenging our students with software that is similar to what is in the work place. One of my students could have graduated early, but decided to take a class that taught him how to use CAD software. He planned on working for his father's tool and die company, utilizing their CC machine. His choice was not only a learning experience, but a business decision.

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Freerideco, we are in the same boat as you. We are a one school district consisting of K-8 students. Our superintendent is pushing us towards technology, but our technology is really lacking. Our school was to install a new cable this summer that would support our bandwidth, as many of our programs crash. Not to get into that now, this is an argument that many teachers have presented to administration but they are not willing to listen. I can draw a line, but that doesn't make me qualified to teach art. Just because I can type a letter, all of a sudden I'm qualified to teach technology. That training is a huge issue at our school as well: several older teachers who just aren't willing to learn. They have difficulty with e-mail even. I think using technology in the classroom is a great idea, don't get me wrong. We're even arguing what's the point of teaching cursive handwriting anymore, we type just about everything. How do the teachers convince administration that we need to be properly trained on a system that works and will support our needs? I think it comes down to two things: money and time. What's more important: teaching the kids to read or how create a prezi?

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I agree. There will always be that new thing that is brought into the classroom for the teacher to use. Teachers need to get on board and learn what they can about the new tool. Then if it is something that the teacher becomes comfortable with and can use on a regular basis to enhance his/her teaching that is great. If not then I have a problem with just sticking the tool to the side to gather dust. The teacher should have an open door relationship with coaches and administration where they can let them know that this particular tool that was handed to them just doesn't work for them and let the coaches/administration find another teacher who might be able to utilize said tool. With school budgets becoming more of an issue we cannot afford to buy a lot of the latest gadgets and let them sit in a closet. Schools must be wise when spending their money.

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I agree, technology is a wonderful tool to use in the classroom. I have been teaching for over 20 years and am sad that my lessons in the past were lacking compared to today. Teachers need to remember to look at the objectives as their teaching with technology and not just use it for technology sake. The teacher is the driving force in the classroom.

Teachers need to be trained not only on the many uses of technology, but how to utilize it to it's fullest in tandem with curriculum and objectives. I think my school tends to act behind the times as they are still giving inservices on how to use the computer or different programs on the computer or smartboard. Seriously? Districts should be helping teachers to use technology in conjucntion with what their specific objectives are. Training is the key to technology, because you're cannot replace the teacher.

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In today's world, the need for 21st century skills is undeniable. We are preparing students for jobs that have not been created yet, and without some knowledge of technology, many of them will be unsuited to cope. However, the prospect of incorporating technology into our classrooms does present some specific challenges. Our schools are the victim of a serious budget crunch which presents the constant question of where should cuts happen? Do we cut the technology budget? This would mean less 21st century resources for the teacher to introduce to students. Or do we cut the teacher and try to utilize technology to bring teachers into more than one classroom at the same time? The question is a serious one, and with more consolidations among rural districts, a increasingly more viable option for administrators to look at. Colleges are moving towards more of an ICN or internet based model for many students. Would it work at the high school level? Would the interaction between teacher and student be as strong? Would it be monetarily the best route for districts to go toward? This is taking the idea of technology integration to the next level, but at what price? It is clear however, that no matter what type of classroom you implement - traditional or cyber, that implementing effective teaching strategies and activities will be the best gauge of student success. Without excellence in method, the mode of teaching is the least of our worries.

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I agree that technology is helpful, but with out a specific purpose or purposeful objectives it doesn't matter how great the technology. My district is so very far behind the times. What is the latest and greatest now technology will not be in my district until years later!

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I agree that we should not just select a tool because it is the newest and greatest gadget available. However, with technology today, the newest and greatest gadgets have proven to be beneficial in classrooms and in student success. My district has purchased several iPads for use with students in Special Education and General Education. Specialist such as Speech Language Pathologists have utilized the opportunity to attain iPads as well. The key, I believe, continues to be data driven. Teachers and specialists need to be expected to show how they are utilizing this technology, with whom, for what purpose, and the progress that is made with these students due to the use of this technology. With the economy today and the budget cuts so many are experiencing, we can't just purchase and move on, there has to be monitoring and data driven proof that this is a great tool that is benefiting the progress and success of students.

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It is important that we realize the purpose of the added tools(technology) in the classroom as the writer stated. Teachers are given these wonderful tools due to a good sales pitch. The school districts are ignorant to the fact that, while all this sounds great, teachers need to be proficient in the implementation of the new tools. In my district I noticed that there are too many new things being rolled out at same time. Over the summer I attend ISTES (International Society for Technology in Education) conference in Philadelphia though I was exposed to a wealth of really good information, with the exception of a few free websites, I was unable to remember and redeliver this information effectively. It was over whelming. Net year I plan to plan better.

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Too many times I have seen the "latest and greatest" technology put into a classroom and a teacher pressured to use it. Most of the time it is not the best method to teach certain lessons, but since the school spent a large amount of money on it, they are encouraged to use it. I agree with that as educators we need to create critical thinkers.

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The problem with new technology in my district seems to be a lack of training for teachers to fully use it. Choosing the best technology to improve student learning is certainly the first step, but schools cannot afford to waste their money by neglecting to train those who will use it.

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Technology serves a purpose as a useful tool within the classroom. However, when it does not include effective and purposeful objectives the entire purpose is defeated. It is to be a tool, and a tool only. It is what the teacher does with this resource that truly counts. In no way can it replace the teacher. Technology is just one more facet to assist teachers in the various learning styles in the classroom.

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Sorry clicked the wrong button...

I have to make sure that the "cool technologies" definitely elicits "critical thinking" because I have found the students tend to get too comfortable with how readily available all this information is.

"classrooms to cyberspace"- As I said before, my daily agenda is posted on Blackboard. The students know to log in the moment they entire the classroom. They begin with checking announcements and then work down the agenda. I go over the agenda with them and the do their Get Started/Bellringer until I'm ready to teach whatever the lesson is for the day. I use Blackboard to put their assignments, PPTs, notes, tests, quizzes, and anything else I can think of. It's very easy to maintain a website/blog once you've gotten it started. It takes me about 15 minutes if I've already prepared all my notes and depending on what I want to put there.

"pencils to posting"- the students submit their work via Blackboard or e-mail if I require it be sent through those options. For physical projects like a Memory Box, they hand those in to me.

"isolation to innovation"- we have wonderful discussion about what the students find after a web search. For example, before a novel study, I give the students a set of questions to find about the author and background of the novel. The students begin their web search and after about 10 minutes, they share their findings. They are so excited to add bits of information (using reliable sources of course) that others may have missed. It allows excitement to build about the novel and give the students a chance to hone in those research skills.

Lastly, having the class on Blackboard allows the parents to keep up with what their student is doing in the classroom. There is absolutely no excuse for a student or their parent to not know what we're doing and when it's due. When a student is absent, they can access the agenda and catch up by the time they return. Technology is definitely needed in today's school, but by no means should we totally steer away from the brick and mortar concept either. I feel having both makes the student's learning experience complete.

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My district is very technology driven and I'm quite excited about the prospects. I am an ITEC ELA middle school teacher. This means I have a classroom of 24 computers. Each student has a computer and just about 90% of my class revolves around the one to one computing. My daily agenda is on the computer. The students are constantly utilizing the Internet which enhances their research skills in order to complete my assignments.

I learned today that this year, my grade level will be switched from the computers to laptops moving my current computers to another grade level. They plan to make all classes ITEC classes within the next year or so. We have a new middle school opening up in which each student will be given their own IPADs to be used for the year. There will be no textbooks, paper, or pen. There won't be any lockers. The media center consist of a few short book cases full of books that don't have electronic versions yet.

While I love being in the technology enriched environment. I love my computers and can't imagine going back to a classroom without them, I don't want the option of a hardbound textbook or the look and smell of a library with the old, yellowed pages of "Tom Sawyer" to be taken away from me or the students.

When creating my lesson plans, I have to make sure

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There is an old adage that says, "The only thing constant is change." With that being said is it possible to educate our students with technology without losing the personalization that occurs between an educator and the students?

In light of the social networks that exist today the premise seems to be the pursuit of a connection between users. It all seems so ironic. Technology has now become a means to advance communication between individuals. One-on-one interaction seems to be a thing of the past. Yet social media has found a way to allow viewers to see those they are communicating with. Technology does have its advantages, even in the classroom. However one must be careful to look at the outcome of this technological advancement.

Each developmental stage of our students carries with it the desire for personal interaction. This type of interaction can never be replaced by the advancement that technology brings.

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I appreciate the points that you made, regarding technology in the classroom. Your post reminded me of a CNN video of a teacher out west using Twitter for class discussion. We definitely have to think outside of the box, in order to reach today’s students. And you are correct that schools waste money on the “latest and greatest”. Some of these technologies have a learning curve. I will give you one guess what happens when a teacher is given a high tech tool that requires more work for him or her to learn. It goes in a locker somewhere and is never heard of again.

There are some challenges to the points you made, however. Regarding “blackboards to blogs”, even the richest schools do not have enough computers to do what you or I want. My school‘s size is in excess of 3,000. We have 12 computer rooms with 30 computers each. That’s just 12%! Before you say “smart phone”, we can’t use that tech, because we can’t monitor what the student’s are looking at. Believe me; it is very important to keep the child on task.

Regarding “classrooms to cyberspace”, this will only work for a few. The few that have the discipline (or parents with the discipline) to stay on top of readings and assignments could and would succeed in this environment, but it is definitely not for everyone.

Regarding “pencils to postings”, this could work, now. All homework could be posted onto a teacher’s blog. The draw back is maintaining the blog. Teachers have very little time.

Regarding “isolation to innovation”, don’t you think that technology makes us more isolated? Just now, I have had a longer conversation with you than my next door neighbor. Also, doesn’t the technology make us more verbally aggressive? Cyberbullies say things that they would never have the courage to say to someone’s face.

Regarding “cool technologies to critical thinking”, I 100% agree. Every administrator should ask themselves this question, before they commit taxpayer money to some new product: does it promote critical thinking?

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I agree that technology will never be able to replace the human connection of a wonderful teacher; bu I also believe that technology is integral to future students. I also worked in a school where students had limited access to technology as a student teacher. The faculty called the phenomenon the "digital divide". It was frustrating not to be able to incorporate technology for take home assignments or even in class when we had to wait weeks for an opportunity to work in the school computer lab; especially since I learned the best practices of a 21st century educator in my education program. Even though this may be a problem now, I feel that it is important for students to be taught using technology as much and as often as possible. The digital divide will not be an issue long term. As rapidly as technology changes, by the time my 6th grade students are older, it may not be an issue. If we want to teach student 21st century skills and for the US labor skills to be competitive in a global market our students need to have experience and familiarity with technology to compete. As an effective educational community, students should have access to a true 21st century learning experience.

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As a Physical Education Teacher, I have seen my school district increase the amount of technology that is being implemented into our programs. This coming school year I have the opportunity to pilot a portable interactive white board that is attached to our technology cart. One of the biggest struggles that I have had with technology in PE is the idea that students are supposed to be active. The learn by doing, but with all of the technology that is being integrated it becomes extremely difficult to find the balance in this.

However, I have found that technology is motivating for students. We are using technology not only in the form with a computer, projector and interactive technology, but we are also using heart rate monitors and pedometers which provide students with instant feedback. Ultimately technology as a whole does this for our students - provides instant feedback.

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I agree that it doesn't matter what type of classroom one is in as long as learning is taking place. During my student teaching I was placed in a school where technology was very limited. Coming from a University that instilled in my colleagues and myself that technology was an essential component of educating students I at first felt lost, vulnerable and confused. How were the students suppose to learn without the use of technology. As one of my colleagues recently told me, teachers were teaching prior to the use of Smart Boards. They used textbooks and were resourceful. As you stated and I have previously stated on other discussion boards it is our job as educators to create and mold critical thinkers, ensure mastery of skills, and prepare our students for success in the 21st century.

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I think it is very important to make sure that there is an environment where the children can learn. I understand that it is important to make sure that don't rely completely on technology in the classroom. I believe that, however, that if we have the technology in the classroom, then we should try to use it. The students need to be used to seeing and using a variety of new technology as they get older. When the students move on in their educations, they will be using technology more and more. I don't feel technology is necessary for the students to learn, however it can be used as a tool to help for the students to learn.

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I am interested in the use of technology in the classroom as a motivator. I have always thought of myself as technologically literate. I am seeing my own children surpass me in knowing what technology has to offer. So, I make a point to educate myself enough that my students will benefit from our use of technology and when they teach me something new, they are excited about it as I am. I would agree that often money should be spent in reducing class sizes, but the push for technology is so great right now that I think I am better off to join to push.

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In addition to making sure the use of a specific technology is the best tool for learning a certain concept, we can also double up on standards by making sure the use of that technology is aligned with a technology specific standard. In Washington (and I'm sure many other states) we have a list of technology standards broken into age groups that we can use to further focus our use of technology in the classroom and make sure that our students are gaining the skills they need to be successful.

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Technology is such a big part of our lives and the lives of our students. I see children as young as 4 or 5 using computers daily. I feel that technology needs to be encouraged in our schools but I feel that it often over shadows the need for solicalization as well. In a world that is so dependent on technology, our students need to be educated on how to properly use these technologies as well as what they should be used for. However, I also feel that we need to stress the importance of interacting with each other in person as well as through technology. Yes it is amazing that students can interact through blogs and wikkis with their teachers and fellow classmates but they also need to have these same interactions within their classrooms. Technology should be used as a way to begin or continue a discussion on subject matter.

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Robert Tatarek

I completely agree with you in regard to your perspective on technology and critical thinking. I especially appreciated the point you made about how it doesn't matter what technology you use, what matters is if you have the knowledge to choose a technology, based on its productive value, versus how cute or fun it may be. I have found far too often that school districts tend to focus on the cute and the fun versus the most useful tools. Therefore, as educators we are left with far too limited choices. For example, teachers are given smartboards with limited training and instruction, and in the end the results or benefits of the technology is minimal. I am currently working with teachers who are struggling with basics such as e-mail. So with respect to the point about having the knowledge, that is the first step I think school districts need to take.

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There are a lot of great tools in technology to engage students. But as others have pointed out, you need caring and professional teachers to implement them into the curriculum. You can have the best technology available and if you do not have knowledgeable and great teachers to incorporate it, the technology can be worthless. But, I do believe the use of technology can be very interactive, engaging and provide opportunity for higher level of learning, collaboration and problem solving skill development. We all agree that these skills are necessary in today's working force.

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Regina, I completely agree. Using technologies are great, but if students are not learning then we have a problem. I enjoyed your three rules that using technologies should encourage. Being a social studies teacher, I believe that students must be critical thinkers. History and geography get really boring if they cannot apply it to their own lives. I make it my goal to implement strategies that will help them in doing so.

At our school we have smart board technology and I love it. I can take them places that they would not be able to go outside of my classroom. With these students being so technologically advanced they can even use technologies that I sometimes cannot.

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Last year my school piloted several computer programs for math intervention and enrichment. There were many very helpful parts of the programs. One was that the programs were able to create lessons based soley on that student's needs and give feedback right away. Another positive was the programs ability to diagnose exact problem areas and give me that information. Sometimes pin pointing the exact cause of a student's difficulty with a subject can take me a lot of time and can be difficult to pin point. My students also loved the programs. They were fun and colorful and closer to the video games my students often play. Some students who had computers even used the program at home so they were getting a lot of extra math time.
I do not think technology should take the place of human interaction in teaching, that is a very important part of being in a global society, but used correctly it can be a tool to help students engage in lessons, feel a sense of responsibility and independence for their learning and really enjoy learning.

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I agree that it is very easy to become engrossed with the idea of using a new gadget. This sometimes causes us to lose our focus when teaching while using the gadget. One thing that I have learned when using technology in the classroom is to always have a plan B and a plan C. If the technology fails, you may find yourself lost without it.
We do well to remember that the entire purpose for integrating technology in the classroom is to better facilitate the learning process for our students.
Integrating technology into also teaches our students life skills that they will need out in the world.

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I believe that a student's entitlement to ICT in secondary mathematics (the subject that I teach) must be in order to:
1. Learning from feeback - the computer often provides fast and reliable feedback and this encourages students to make their own conjectures and to test out and modify their ideas.
2. Observing patterns - the speed of computers and calculators enables students to produce many examples when exploring mathematical problems. This supports their observations of patterns and the making and justifying of generalizations.
3. See connections - the computer enables formulae, tables of numbers and graphs to be linkeed readily. Chaning one representation and seeing changes in the others helps students to understand the connection between them.
4. Working with dynamic images - students can use computers to manipulate diagrams dynamically. This encourages them to visualize the geometry as they generate their own mental images.
5. Exploring data - computers enable students to work with real data, whcih can be represented in a variety of ways. This supports interpretation and analysis.
6. Teaching the computer - when pupils design a set of instructions to make a computer achieve a particular result, they are compelled to express their commands unambiguously and in the correct order; they make their thinking explicit as they refine their ideas.

Thus, technology is the best way to make our lessons interactive. Technology is the best way to make the students the center of the lesson.

In Malta, the government is investing its money to install interactive whiteboards in every classroom of every school. This is being done in order to help the students get engaged into the lesson by writing on this interactive whiteboard.

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In a matter of weeks, school will resume in our district. With the start of the new year, there will be several new forms of technology that teachers in our building will have the opportunity to implement during instruction. I really appreciated the links that you provided. I especially liked the 21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn. Your view keeps everything in perspective, it's not the "hype" of the new technology that is being implented, but it's how the "cool technology will lead to critical thinking" in the classroom that matters!

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I agree that if we provide a safe, loving, and supportive environment for students learning will take place. In the school I teach in, technology is something that has been put into play more and more each year. I use a promothean board and I depend on it for every subject. I found myself lost when it would not work. I am not sure that I agree that spending money on technology is a waste of money, however I do agree if you spend the money and never use it, that's a waste.
Teachers are the key factors in education, technology is not. With smaller class sizes and more one on one instruction, I do believe that scores and learning would increase in most cases. The sad thing is, teachers do not get much of a say in these matters. We are told what we will get trained in and what we should use in our curriculum.

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I believe technology shouldn't be used just so we can say we are up to date with the latest technology, but it needs to be relevant to what the students are learning. I work in a district where they are basically against using any technology in the classroom. I don't agree with that philosophy either. Students nowadays need to be technology savy and as they get older and go to college they are going to need those skills to be successful. A problem which I have run into is that many(around 80%) of my students do not have computers at home. So for me to use technology to reach out to them after school hours with a blog or keeping them posted on assignments or even contact parents through e-mail, it is really hard to do. I want to give them experience in our schools computer lab to do research on assignments, but we basically don't have enough computers for the amount of kids we have. I am look forward to any suggestions on how to incorporate technology in my classroom while at school.

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It is often easy to get wrapped up in the novelty of the latest and greatest technology; we often forget to truly analysis its effectiveness in student learning. At my school just like in many right now there is a big push for the use of technology. It can be a great tool and often the novelty factor can be very motivating for young students. Because it is cute and fun it can lead to motivation which is key to any lesson, however, at the same time I think teachers need to monitor the quality of student learning going on closely when using these tools.

I teach in an elementary school and even there we are begging to branch out from a standardly traditional brick and mortar school structure by starting class or grade level Wikki's. Students are able to go on to these sites and complete homework, study, or to comment on school activities with friends and teachers. The potential use for technology in learning is outstanding, but the teacher's role for being the facilitator remains highly important.

I have been considering setting up a class Wikki/Blog, but I am not certain where to begin. I have heard of teachers in grades as low a first setting them up. As I said I teach second, I am looking for some ways I could utilize a Wikki/Blog to help aid student learning.

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I agree that the most important thing is to design a learning environment where learning can take place. As educators we have to provide a positive, caring, and safe learning environment for our students. If we provide an appropriate learning environment, learning will be fun for our students. I believe that all school should have in place a Professional Learning Community. Educators need to have time to reflect and bounce ideas off of other educators. They need to have time to look at data and analyze that data to better serve their students. I believe technology can be a great tool to have in a classroom, but it should not be the only tool used in the classroom. When I was growing up, teachers did not have all the technology they have now. The teachers actually taught and we learned. I have been in a school that uses all these technology based programs to make a students brain grow. I have to say that I think its a waste of money! If you want to help these students hire more teachers and reduce class size so that teachers can do more one-on-one instruction. When did we become so technology bound that we rely on technology and not Teachers to educate our children?

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