What Does a Guinea Pig Have to do with Technology?

So here you are, browsing blogs looking for ideas on including technology into your classroom and BAM, you are smacked with a picture of a Guinea Pig dressed up like he is on his way to a Mardi Gras party. (He was celebrating, by the way.)  I know what you are thinking,” What does this have to do with technology?” Well, a lot actually. I’ll explain.

Today children are so comfortable with technology that they don’t give it a second thought. Teachers who are given new technology for their classroom are first excited. The possibilities of uses in the classroom are limitless. Then they become overwhelmed. “How am I going to figure this all out? What will we actually be able to accomplish? ” Finally, they are scared. “I was just given a $500.00 piece of equipment, and I’m supposed to just hand it over to an 8 year old!” We find ways to protect the technology to the point where it’s almost unusable. If I could wrap my new iPads in bubble tape and they still worked, you bet I would!

The children though,  think of it in an entirely different way. The have been born into a world full of screens, gadgets, and easy accessibility. It doesn’t scare them, it excites them. They are so comfortable that they can multitask with no problem. The title of this blog ” Put the Guinea Pig Down” is something I have actually (repeatedly) said to my 3rd graders. It was followed by, ” You can’t work on the iPad and carry S’Mores around at the same time!” Here is the thing, THEY CAN! They are so comfortable with these devices that they can do multiple things at ones. I was over at my desk sweating bullets that they would break these precious gifts of technology, but they were cool as cucumbers. They know how to treat this tech, because they have grown up with it in their hands. In the 4 years that I have had iPads, Kindles, and a SMART board in my classroom, not one item has been broken, not one! Does it happen, can it happen? Sure, no one is perfect. But they are so comfortable with it that it’s rare.

In this blog I will explore technology use in the classroom. I will share what has worked well, and not so well. I encourage you to comment and share as well. It is the collaboration of educators that makes us grow, evolve and be better for our students.

Students need to be challenged in many different ways and while trying to explore ways to do that I have come across the article 10 Key Components of Customized Learning After reading this you realize that there is no one good “fit” in education. Traditionally, that is what has been done in the past with a little room for differentiation. What we can learn now is that students can learn in any situation given the opportunity to choose the way they learn. What does that mean? It means that Christopher can choose to make an iMovie about the different properties of rocks and minerals, while Sadie would like to create a Puppet Pals show to demonstrate her knowledge. Addie would like me to go over the information with her and help her with the “big words”, while Finnley would like to draw examples of different properties using OSMO Masterpiece. Giving multiple pathways for students reaches them on a deeper level. As stated in the iNACOL post from April 26, 2016,”Multiple pathways are an important element of personalized learning environments because they create distinct, equally-rigorous paths for students to pursue their interests and gain the real-world skills and experiences they need to be successful after high school. ” They feel that they are given the choice to decide how to learn and what way works best for them. They are part of the learning experience, not just a bystander watching in the stands.

In my six short years of  teaching I have tried to focus on these 10 key components to help my students reach their fullest potential. Including technology in a meaningful way that can give the opportunity provide formative feedback while students are working ,can reach them in ways that paper, pencil, and a teacher lecture can’t. Charlie Brown realized this when his teacher only said ” wah wah wha wha wha” . Today’s students need more. They need to not be told, ” Put the guinea pig down”, they need to be shown how to be successful in this crazy, fast paced, technology rich, multi tasking world that they live in!




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