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Making the Most of Classroom Technology

July 17, 2019

Are you an active social media user like I am? Then you’ve probably had the same feeling when you meet people you follow in real life. Well this year I had the chance to meet the three co-authors of Don’t Ditch That Tech “in real life” for the first time. Their new book hit shelves last month, and I was excited to get a sneak peek before it went live.

In this blog post, you’ll hear from the authors of Don’t Ditch That Tech. They were kind enough to take some time to answer questions about their work. You might be familiar with Matt Miller’s popular book Ditch That Textbook. In Don’t Ditch That Tech, Matt is joined by Nate Ridgway and Angelia Ridgway. Earlier this year I was brought in as a featured presenter at the IGNITE Lafayette Regional eLearning Conference in Indiana.

After meeting Matt at FETC in January, I had the chance to meet Nate and Angelia at the IGNITE conference and learn more about their work. Don’t Ditch That Tech is full of actionable ideas and resources for educators who want to make the most of classroom technology. With an emphasis on authentic experiences, the authors’ passion for digital learning and their practical tips, will help every reader reflect and plan strategically this school year! Nate and Angelia took time to answer my questions, read on below to learn more about their work.

Don't Ditch That Text is full of actionable ideas and resources for educators who want to make the most of classroom technology.

Classroom Technology Strategies

What inspired you to write a book on this topic?

When we sat down to write Don’t Ditch That Tech, we really wanted to address what we’ve seen as a tension AND an opportunity between two trends: the increase in classroom technology and the growing complexity of our students’ needs. As we thought about these two ideas, we basically wanted to ask these questions: It’s fine to have a room full of devices, but what can — and should — I do with them? How can they be used in intentional ways to meet students’ needs?

How can school leaders use this book in a PLC or book club?

Don’t Ditch That Tech really tries to give practical, evidence-based strategies based on solid research. We wanted the book anchored in “THE WHY and THE HOW.” We tried to mesh the theoretical and pragmatic sides of teaching that work effectively for both PLCs and book clubs.

The content of Don’t Ditch That Tech is actually differentiated for teachers, too. There are new strategies and ideas that can be found for everyone from tech newbies to gurus, and for teachers in any content area and grade level (K-Collegiate).

Interactive Classroom Tools

In Don’t Ditch That Tech, you share lots of favorite interactive tools for the classroom. Is there one you’re particularly excited about this school year?

Yes! We are particularly excited about Classtime, an assessment tool, that has loads of possibilities for how to effectively tailor our instruction. It’s a quick, powerful way to collect data quickly that teachers can use to differentiate. Iorad and Insert Learning are two other applications that have limitless options!

What do you hope educators will walk away with after reading your book?

That technology can be one of your BEST friends in terms of meeting your students’ needs and saving teachers’ time differentiating. And…that teachers can start out small — poco a poco — and develop a tech toolkit they can change the lives of their students.

Putting Classroom Technology Ideas into Action

What is one thing a classroom teacher, instructional coach, or school leader can do tomorrow to put your ideas into action?

Something we talk about a lot in Don’t Ditch That Tech are teachers who only have a few devices in their classroom (cell phones, Chromebooks, iPads, etc.). We explain in those chapters that there’s a couple of common “threads” between expert tech users who have limited devices:

Don't Ditch That Text is full of actionable ideas and resources for educators who want to make the most of classroom technology.

Like all teachers, they “tailor” their use of technology to their lesson objectives, not vice-versa. If you’re not familiar with the theme of “technology is a tool, not a lesson plan” this is a big lesson a lot of early teachers learn the hard way. Although I think we can all agree that technology can do some AMAZING things, just remember that your objectives drive how you use it, not the other way around.

Expert tech-limited teachers attempt to “tie up any loose ends” by critically thinking about their use of tech in the classroom. They try to be proactive problem-expecters instead of reactive problem-solvers. Any teacher can take care of a problem when it goes wrong. The best teachers think critically about potential problems before they ever start!

Extending the Conversation

In addition to my regular reading habits, I love podcasts! Do you have any podcast recommendations for educators?

We recommend these three:

How can readers connect with you?

You can find us on Twitter and Instagram or by sending an email to Nate (nate@teachingfromtheridge.com) or Angie (angie@teachingfromtheridge.com). For professional development purposes, we’d love to come speak to your school, staff, or students!

This new book was released on Amazon just a few weeks ago. You can grab your copy of Don’t Ditch That Tech in both paperback and Kindle version. I can’t with to hear what you think of this new book by Matt Miller, Nate Ridgway, and Angelia Ridgway. Make sure to use the hashtag #ditchbook when sharing your thoughts and reflections on social media!

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Dr. Monica Burns is a former classroom teacher, Author, Speaker, and Curriculum & EdTech Consultant. Visit her site ClassTechTips.com for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.

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