Teachers teaching with technology: Practice what you preach (or teach)!

To all teachers with technology in your classrooms…walk the walk!

As I have noted in earlier posts, I feel very strongly that educators need to practice what they preach in terms of class assignments, rules, technology and behavior.  Recently, I have been giving students choice in the tool they choose to make a digital presentation with their iPad.  I believe they need to learn the benefits of and drawbacks to certain apps and tools for certain presentations.  That said, our school provides students with the iMovie app on their iPad which overwhelmingly is chosen as the tool they want to use.

My thought is that if I am not only asking students to make a product on their iPad and present it, but also asking them to document their thought process, I should do the same.  So here goes my stab at documenting the making of an iMovie.


For my 7th grade social studies class, we have been studying the World Wars for roughly two months.  As we are now toward the end of WWII, I would like them to examine several primary source documents, make a claim and support it with evidence (got to love CCSS!) regarding America’s decision to drop the atom bombs in Japan.

Chosen Tool

I could easily present the documents in a teacher-centered way, or I could do a jigsaw or carousel activity to expose all students to the documents, but I really want to try to hook them with something they both enjoy and are familiar with.  To do this, I’m choosing to create a digital story to put together a short introduction to the topic, followed by an explanation of the activity.

There are many tools to tell a story, as Alan Levine point’s out in his Wiki.  Because my students have iPads (w/iMovie), I feel it is best to use a tool with which they’re familiar.  Additionally, I believe iMovie would best enable me to incorporate all media types I’d like to use.

Getting media files

Now that I have my concept, I need to find pictures related to the Pearl Harbor bombing, the ensuing war and the Manhattan Project.  I am finding it hard to find creative commons pictures which accurately show what I plan to show about each area.  Would this fall into fair use?

Rather than stringing consecutive pictures from google images together for the entirety of the story, I want to liven it up.  I have seen students using an app called “funny movie maker” to record themselves as another person, so I figure I’ll give it a try.

Accompanying audio

One big point of emphasis I am trying to drive home with my students is to have appropriate music to help convey the mood or tone of the story or use it to shift the viewers attention to another “chapter” of the story. To do this, I plan to mostly use my audio and “dark” sound effects as the topic is not only very serious but very sad.  (It wouldn’t be appropriate to include “Call Me Maybe” or “Gangham Style” as students often do)

Sharing the movie

Lastly, I have developed a process for my students to “share” their movies with me using their DropBox folders.  So here’s my attempt.  Check out my completed movie here: Manhattan Project Looking Back

While “in the trenches” of education, I feel it is easy to forget what we are asking our students to do.  Too often, we assume that because they’re digital natives, they understand how to use the technology appropriately and because of this, there isn’t a need to model the processes which are “in their world.”  However, I found that through the process of doing it both live with students in the classroom and at home, as they would, I have more confidence that we are all on the same page.  I also have a newfound respect for them as learners and troubleshooters.

For what it’s worth, I think after seeing my movie and seeing me work through the struggles of the creation process, my students have more respect for not just me but for the learning process I am asking of them.

What are some other aspects of classes which could and should be modeled?


Author: camreich

Director of Technology and Instruction, Salesianum School

2 thoughts on “Teachers teaching with technology: Practice what you preach (or teach)!”

  1. I really like your statement about how teachers (and administrators) assume that because they believe that students are digital natives that they understand how to use the technology (they use) appropriately. What a lot of these students don’t know about the technology they are using worries me. We had a very bright academically challenged student figure out a way to create an administrator account on the macmini’s in our Library. Such a waste of talent. Really misdirected, mainly due to boredom. Not being challenged by the teachers nor the system.

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