Hey Teachers! Integrate Technology Without Knowing How It Works

I work with teachers who don't like to look stupid in front of their class. This makes sense in their subject area. But with technology, if they are avoiding looking stupid by because they don't know how to use it, chances are, they are looking pretty silly to their students already.

Here's an example. A high school social studies teacher needs his students to work with the language of the Gettysburg Address in a way that will engage them, and to have them study the famous words and become very familiar with them by repetition. His instincts tell him that if each student had to create a video documentary of them speaking the entire address, clearly, it would accomplish his goal. But, since he doesn't know the first thing about video production, he won't do it until he knows more about video. But, try as he might, he doesn't ever seem to get enough time to learn video production with the crazy amount of different online sites he's told to use by the school for grading, testing, and helping him do his job, (although nobody asked him if he wanted that kind of help, but that's another blog post).

Meanwhile, most of his students are sharing videos on social networks that they make after school on a myriad of devices and networks. And in every class, there are video and tech geeks who are whizzes with computers and phones.

He needs to let go having to know about video production go. He needs to take a breath and let it go, just breath and let it out.

He knows about social studies, and that's what he's teaching. They know about videos and networks, and how to make them, or find help making them from their friends.

He needs to take another breath and decide to assign the documentary.

He needs to keep breathing and draft the assignment.

While he does, he need to remind himself that he knows his subject matter. And his students know how to use technology. His job is to help his students use technology to not only play and socialize, but to learn.

That will make him seem to his students to be anything but stupid. He will seem to his students to be a great teacher.

Now, in case this hypothetical high school social studies teacher is reading this, here's some help with the assignment:

Explain to the students that you are a social studies teacher who is not trained in video production. You do, however, know how to watch TV, as you grew up before there were so many interactive screens around! (Humor is always helpful to reduced stress). You see how passionate they are about video, so you're going to assign everyone to make a video for you to watch!

Lesson plan guidelines to consider:

1. Each student does a full recital of the address.

2. Each word coherent and audible.

3. Volume of sound on the video has to be consistent.

4. Less than 3 minutes

5. You may simply record yourself reciting the address on video, or record only audio with a black screen. Or you may talk to the camera, dress up, edit and add media that is safe, legal, mashable, etc.

6. The videos are homework, with class time for questions and even more important, to let students share tools, successful tips, and other their trials and tribulations of video production.

7. There will be equipment provided if you need it, or you can share with your friends and take turns recording each other.

8. The video can be made using any tool or software you or friends have. The school will provide enough tools to do the assignment well enough to pass, if you need them (any laptop, phone, or camera from the last 5 years could make this video. The trick is they may have to do it in one take, with no editing, which will have them repeating the address over and over).

9. Videos are turned in via a link on YouTube, or to the teacher to watch on any device.

10. Grading. Rough draft videos will be viewed by the teacher. Suggestions will be given. Students will be expected to re-edit and submit to the teacher again, until the video passes all the above criteria.

Finished videos will be voted on by the class via the teacher sending out the "Unlisted" links ("unlisted" on YouTube for safety) to the class (and maybe parents) of all students who have a week to watch all of them and vote. Votes will be given to teacher anonymously to teacher via email, or on paper notes. The three most voted on videos will be shown in class during a viewing party. Optional: make the voting along categories such as: best voice, best costume, or best editing. Have the viewing party be a Oscar Awards party. Awards could be a plastic bust of Lincoln.