Making Sense of Technology

Explore realistic applications of technology in teaching, learning, and leadership while focusing on ways to connect, communicate, collaborate, and create. Learn to support the integration of technology throughout the curriculum, motivate teachers, and bring back the joy to learning.

Making Sense of Technology

The Big No-NoIt's easy to get caught up in the excitement and fun of technology. However as a school administrator, it's essential to step back and consider practical and realistic applications that make sense for teaching, learning, and leadership. This is particularly true for the current generation of online tools known as Web 2.0.

Example. Technology provides access to opportunities. Explore the Korean War example. Students can use timely resources, use tools for creating and sharing, and produce authentic products.

Technology is more than computers. Use a wide range of technologies including ebook readers, digital cameras, whiteboards, and audio devices to actively involve young people in learning through activities such as Lego Robotics.

Example. An elementary class read the award-winning graphic story by Geoffrey Hayes called The Big No-No, then used the online Cartoon Maker to write their own story. Using the graphic story provided a new format for reading, while the cartoon making tool providing scaffolding for a story writing assignment. Technology made writing easy and enjoyable.

Let's explore four areas where technology can have a positive impact on education. These tools and resources allow you to connect, communicate, collaborate, and create.


Explore ways that technology can be used to make professional, teacher, and student connections; share announcements, documents, calendars; as well as, brainstorm, organize, and share ideas.

Explore. Go to School Administration Wallwisher page. Read the title and topic. Add a posting. Notice that you can add a YouTube video or a link to an image file if you wish.

Model. Think about ways you could use technology with your educators. Explore the Share a Professional Resource as an example.

Think about other technologies that can be used to connect people for the purpose of sharing, brainstorming, or organizing ideas. Also, look for quality educator websites and blogs to use as models for your own work.

Integrate. Tools like Wallwisher can be used for student sharing. Try it with a couple teachers and spread the word.


The ability to communicate with others is one of the primary benefits of technology use. Use social networking tools to design virtual spaces for blogging, information sharing, and discussions.

Explore. Go to Technology and School Administration Ning. Comment on a blog post or participate in a discussion. Use this environment to explore the possibilities.

Model. Think about other technologies that can be used for communication and interaction. Try one.

Integrate. Go to Civil Rights Ning for an example of how young people play roles related to the Civil Rights movement. Show teachers an example and discuss ways that students can use tools such as Ning for class discussions and projects.


Go paperless! One of the most important features of 21st century technology is the ability to easily collaborate online. Team building, peer editing, grant writing, and the synergy that comes from people working together are all examples of the power of collaboration.

Explore. Use an online word processor for collaboration. Let's write about a day in the life of today's digital child. Go to the Digital Child Titanpad. Add additional entries. Change some formatting. Let's use Bubbl to brainstorm ways that school administrators can promote digital citizenship, 21st century learning, and engaged learning.

Model. Explore the wide range of tools that can be used for online collaboration. Select tools for particular needs.

Integrate. Work with a teacher to build collaborative tools into classroom activities. Focus on the role of collaboration and why team building, peer editing, and synergy are important. For instance, use MyWebspiration. Explore the Civil War Project as an example.


From audio and video recording to the production of comics, technology tools provide adults and young people a wide variety of tools for creating and sharing products.

Explore. Explore the animations at GoAnimate. Use Wordle to review some of your favorite ideas related to technology in learning.

Model. Explore tools for research, production, and sharing.

Integrate. Explore public service announcements from the Ad Council. Use technology tools to create and edit your own audio and video productions.

A Dozen Keys to Technology Integration


Key 1: Rediscover the Classics
Build the best tools and resources into your curriculum maps.
See the "big view" of connecting grade to grade.
Example: Resource Roundups from PBS, Farmer's Market of Quality Websites, and government resources such as USDA.
Example: Google Docs for collaborative technology tool and resource additions to curriculum maps.



Key 2: Share Useful Resources
Build the best tools and resources into model projects that can be replicated.
Example: Readability is a simple tool that makes reading web pages by removing clutter and focusing attention on blocks of text.


Key 3: Create a Supportive Atmosphere
Praise small steps toward technology integration.
Example: Connect the ISTE NETS Creativity and Innovation standard (demonstrate, creative thinking, construct knowledge, develop innovative products with simple activities and useful assessments. Use Glogster to show student understanding of a topic such as Tessellations.



Key 4: Nurture Technology-Saavy Teachers.
Match technology+training+ongoing, relevant applications+rewards for progress.
Example: Build wikis such as Build a Kingdom, Made in Louisiana, The Museum Mystery, and Our Food Chains. Get started at Wikispaces for Teachers (Ancient Greece, Build a Kingdom, Read Write Wiki, WikiLit, The Wright 3).



Key 5: Encourage Technology that Supports Instruction
Example: Use electronic whiteboardsto support large group instruction and introduce individual activities. For instance use Build Your Wild Self to discuss animal adaptations.



Key 6: Connect Technology to School Initiatives
Whether your focus in math or the latest ASCD professional development book, connect technology for discussions, interactions, or project-building.
Example: Use Stop Bullying Now
Example: Use Hands Symphony and Hands Only CPR



Key 7: Explore Innovative Applications of Technology Tools
Encourage innovative approaches to teaching such as blended classes that rotate small groups and online class work. Students spend time with the teacher one on one and in the library. Go to the IDEA website for lots of online resources related to debate.


Key 8: Create Fabrics, not Quilts
Rather than viewing technology as a separate part of the curriculum, weave technology throughout the curriculum. Learn more about Comics in the Classroom.



Key 9: Create Synergy with Multiple Resources and Tools
Connect books and hands-on experiences with technology tools and resources.
Example: Use Inventive.



Key 10: Focus on Digital Citizenship
Integrate 21st century skills across the curriculum.
Example: Use Internet Safety with Professor Garfield



Key 11: Build School-to-Home Connections
Explore beyond-school activities such as nature activities.
Example: Use eBird, Frogwatch USA, Great Backyard Bird Count, Great Turtle Race, Journey North, School Yard Habitats, Whalenet, Wildlife Watch, Iditarod. Use other online project sites such as Global Schoolhouse Registry, Blue Zones, CIESE Online Classroom Projects, CyberFair Projects



Key 12: Stress Interdisciplinary, Project-based Approaches
use technology to facilitate collaboration, communication, sharing... address the issues from the last time around
Example: Use The Week in Rap


Final Thoughts

Each child is unique.
Each teacher is unique.
Each grade level is unqiue.
Each content area is unique.
Celebrate differences and learn from each other!

Learn More

Not sure where to get started? Get to know the Google tools. Then, learn more about learning tools, learning spaces, and learners:

Learn more about the national plan and technology standards:

For many more ideas, go to my website at

Developed by Annette Lamb, 7/2010.