A little over four years ago when my school corporation started talking about going 1-to-1, most teachers went into panic mode. What exactly did this mean? What kinds of changes were going to take place? And most of all, my fellow math teachers exclaimed, "math curriculum can't be digital, students HAVE to show their work." I contribute most of these fears to a lack of experience with technology and how to implement it within the classroom. For me, the good part was that it was going to take at least two years before the transition to 1-to-1 was actually going to take place. So my thought was: jump on the bandwagon and get ahead of the game.
I immediately started researching digital curriculums, 1-to-1 environments, leaning management systems, and various options for classroom websites. I attempted to read everything I could, good and bad. And believe me, there are lots of philosophies out there to read. Next, my plan was to take several months and experiment with what was going to work for me in a math classroom setting once every student was given a device with internet access. Prior to this time, I was already using lots of different types of technology within my classroom such as graphing calculators and a student response system (iClickers) along with a few others. And anytime I wanted to involve the internet in my lessons, I just needed to schedule time in the computer lab. Not a problem, we had been teaching like that for years. But now, we were going to be given an opportunity to expand our use of technology in new and unique ways.
After months of researching and trying out different options that I had found on the internet, I finally decided on creating a classroom website. It turned out that what I actually created was a nice resource for students and parents. Assignments, lecture notes, powerpoints, and videos were now available 24/7. Students could choose to learn anytime and anywhere that fit their needs. Great! I had got my classroom ready for the 1-to-1 movement PRIOR to our school implementing 1-to-1. Little did I realize that the only thing that I had truly done was "digitize my curriculum". I had made digital files of all of my worksheets, lecture notes, and powerpoints and had placed them on my website. Yes, this saved time and money (no more standing at the xerox machine making copies & wasting paper). but I had not actually created a "digital curriculum".
After I had been using my classroom website for about a year, I stumbled across an article on the internet that talked about a "digital curriculum" verses a "digitized curriculum." Boy, did that open my eyes! Now, don't get me wrong, having a digitized curriculum is good. It does allow parents and students access to everything they need 24/7. What better, more convenient learning environment could we possibly provide our students in the 21st century? However, I wanted to truly engage my students in learning and technology that would prepare them for college and any future career that they might choose.
So once again, my researching started up again. Finally, after a couple of years, I am starting to see the positive results of building a digital mathematics curriculum that I like. It is constantly changing and evolving as I come across new ideas. And I am sure that it will continue to be an ever changing process that I update regularly. In my next blog entry, I will share some of the early ways that I started using technology to build my digital curriculum within my mathematics classroom. Every teacher, who is just starting to create a digital curriculum, needs to start out slow and create a good plan for implementation.
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Hi!! My name is Amy Cole, and I love to teach and develop curriculum. After 28 years of experience in the classroom, I've decided it's time to share what I've learned from my experiences as a classroom teacher.