Instructional technology has the potential to powerfully enhance learning for students. As a veteran teacher, I already felt comfortable using a wide variety of technologies to teach and communicate with students and families. I have found that instructional technology is at its best, however, when students are the ones using it. For example, my students used blogs and discussion boards to share their ideas, digital cameras to create works of art, and Photo Story software to construct digital stories.

During my coursework at William and Mary I have learned about and used several new-to-me technologies such as Elluminate, Diigo, and Twitter. The most powerful aspect of my learning hasn't been the new tools I've used, however. It has been the new ways in which I select appropriate technological tools that will help accomplish the goals and objectives of a lesson. My growth in this area is due in large part to my exposure to the Activity Types Model developed by Dr. Judi Harris and Dr. Mark Hofer, both of William & Mary.

Using the Activity Types Taxonomies has shifted the way I think about technology in lesson planning. In planning lessons prior to starting this program, I would often start with a technology in mind that I wanted to use. I would then try to make that technology fit into an upcoming lesson. The Activity Types Model turns this thinking on its head, placing digital tools in the same space as all other instructional tools: as means to learning rather than ends in themselves. With this paradigm shift, I am free to create learning goals for students and then use the Activity Types Taxonomies for information about what kinds of technologies might best support the specific learning goals I have in mind. One of the most freeing aspects of thinking about lesson planning this way is that I am free to choose the best tool to facilitate student learning; even if that tool isn't technological at all. The focus of this perspective is exactly where it should be: on how best to help students learn.

Here are some examples of ways in which I have used instructional technology during my coursework at William and Mary:
E. E. Cummings: all ignorance toboggans into know
This is an example of how I have used technology to make difficult content more accessible to students. This PowerPoint presentation was created to teach a lesson to my practicum students. The lesson itself is from the Patterns of Change in Literature unit, which the class was studying during my time as their practicum teacher. Rather than having students' use their textbooks to view the poem, I created this presentation so that I could imbed visual and text aids for unfamiliar vocabulary words in the poem. Using this format also allowed me to share more background about the author, including his picture and another one of his poems for us to analyze to get a sense of Cummings' style. This scaffolding helped provide the prior knowledge necessary for these students to do the hard intellectual work of identifying metaphors in the poem.

The Civil Rights Movement
In designing this unit while working for Project Civis, I was pleasantly surprised at the wealth of online resources at my disposal. Photos, videos, audio files, oral histories, memos, newspapers, telegrams . . . as a curriculum planner, I felt like a kid in a candy store! While I am not at liberty to share specific lessons from this unit, I will share some of the resources I used.
Telling Our Stories is a site filled with high quality interactive oral histories recorded by high school students.
Separate is Not Equal is an online version of the Smithsonian exhibit of the same name. This exhibit contains photos, audio clips, and first-person accounts that relate to the struggle for desegregated schools.