Like many other teachers, I have beautiful daydreams of a classroom where all students effectively utilize technology on a daily basis to deepen their knowledge, research information, and work collaboratively in this new global world based on technology. My reality is far different. Many students don't have access to technology at school, and some don't even have access at home. Many of my students lack the focus and self-discipline to use technology as a tool, and I discover that they become slaves to the device instead of the other way around. I've also found that simply "adding" a technology component to existing lessons really does not give my the end result I'm looking for. Yes, it becomes an attention-grabbing device, but it really does not add meaning to the lesson itself. I guess you could say that "adding" technology influences the delivery of the lesson, but does not change the lesson itself.
For a while I have been convinced that if I want my classroom to become one that is truly tech-based and readying students for their tech future, I have to revamp my entire approach to education. That is very, very hard - I have been teaching for a LONG time, and the thought of basically beginning from scratch has me whimpering in the corner. But the more I dive into this, the more I realize that, like many other things in life, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I don't need to completely begin from scratch. Many of my lessons are quite valuable. I'm learning the trick is to find a way to use technology to further a specific element of the lesson. Don't overhaul from scratch, and don't just layer it on top. Take a piece of the lesson that already exists, and have technology play a role in it. When students work in groups, have them share a google doc. When asking for student responses, have them tweet them out. And that, I think, becomes the trick - begin the tech journey with the little things, but make sure those little things have meaning!