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Technology is interwoven in all our lives to such an extent that teaching with technology is no longer a matter of choice. The choice lies more in the form of technology a teacher uses and the extent to which technology is integrated into a teacher's lesson plan. Everything from email to creating a website is in the realm of using technology and they take different levels of teacher confidence. Given that today's students are computer literate, often even before they have their basic reading and writing skills solidified, it is worthwhile for a teacher to acquire the skill sets needed to deal with the tech-savvy generation.
Luckily it is not that hard to find ways to introduce technology into the classroom. As we know, everything from a video to an Internet hooked-up Black Board or Smart Board is technology. In the younger classes these can be used to supplement the information being given verbally or through worksheets. A first grader acquiring vocabulary skills while reading Roald Dahl's 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' will appreciate watching the 'Willie Wonka' movie at the end of the term with his or her friends. The Internet added Smart Board is a great way to have impromptu virtual field trips and it can be a great asset when talking about map skills.
As the grade level get higher, technology can help make the classroom more interactive and can help the teacher forge good relationships with the students. A power point presentation about cell division or a documentary about Martin Luther King, Jr. will add something to the classroom atmosphere. These are tools that can draw in even the most distracted students. A generation geared toward electronics is likely to relate to these more than just to the text book or an oral lecture.
If a teacher is yet to gain confidence with these forms of technology, email is a great way to dip one's foot in this new set of teachers' resources. Allowing students the option to contact a teacher by email may encourage students to ask questions in a quieter setting. It can lead to sharing of links and other information that can strengthen study skills. Teachers who try this find that something as simple as a new way of establishing communication can increase communication considerably.
Another way in which to engage with students without too much additional effort is to create a website - the teacher can upload information and links that is relevant for a group of students and make this information available at all times to address the needs of students who have missed a class or have inadequate notes. Once the teacher feels more technologically comfortable, they can consider adding podcasts of lectures also. This may all be more relevant in higher grades, of course.
Teachers can also encourage their students to create a website and share their portfolio of work. These new models of expressing themselves and finding a public voice can be a big boost to a young writer or artist. In this sense a portfolio on a website is like getting published in the school newspaper and the nature of the Web allows for every child to be allowed publication.
Teaching is ultimately a sharing of information and knowledge and all the available technology is a tool for facilitating communication. So, technology is an incredibly powerful teacher's aid.