A Review of Stephanie Harvey’s “Amplify Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom”
Inspired or Overwhelmed?
If you are anything like me, you see something new and inspiring and you instantly try to figure out how to incorporate that into your classroom. We all want to offer our students the best we can. Now in the age of social media, we can glimpse into thousands of classrooms every day. I don’t know about you but this can both be inspiring and downright overwhelming.
This spring our district was offering a series of book studies and I of course hopped in both! Reading a good professional development book can refresh you and leave you ready for action. July hit and I looked over at my stack of personal and PD books and decided to take Amplify: Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom by Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke with me on our first summer trip. Though I may have been looking forward to the quick summer read I also brought along, I decided to give Amplify a go. I am so glad that I did.
You Don’t Have to Do It All, Even Though You’ll Want To!
I will let you know I consider myself to be pretty “tech savvy” and up to date on most educational trends. But, within each chapter I found new tools, approaches and activities. This is when I got out my favorite flare pens and started jotting down all the new approaches I was going to somehow incorporate into my classroom. I mean who wouldn’t want to set up a recording booth that allows readers of all levels to review the latest book they’ve read? And that was only Chapter One! As I read deeper into the text what I found was less of the “big ideas” and more on how I can make technology work in my classroom: ME… not my teammate, not the tech leader at the school, me. WOW, that was refreshing, what do you mean I don’t have to do it all?
So, this is what made this book different for me than many of the others I have read. The authors ask you to foster your own “growth mindset” and learn along with your students while simultaneously telling you not to do everything. …“just because we can do something innovative, doesn’t always mean we should.” Implementing technology into our classrooms is important, but we should do it in a way that is meaningful to our students and, frankly, to us. Within each chapter, Amplify reminds the reader of the importance of literacy, critical thinking and independence and how, within these foundations, we can incorporate technology.
Growing Your Technology Mindset
Each chapter has a focus that will support your growing development as a teacher and learner of technology. A few examples are “Developing a Mindset for Technology”, “Connecting Technology to Existing Classroom Practice” or “Foundational Lessons for Independence.” Each chapter provides multiple avenues to reach the goal set forth. Depending on your experience level, there is an option for you and an option to try something out of your comfort zone. Real-life stories and examples are shared as well as additional resources to take your learning further. At the end of each chapter are “three things to try tomorrow.” These were things we, yeah I said we, can do!
For example, in Chapter Two the reader is challenged to
“Set aside thirty minutes a week for you to discover and play,
Carve out classroom time for students to discover and play”
Sign up for a conference, webinar or Edcamp.”
Overall, Amplify will leave you feeling inspired and confident to hit the ground running with ideas that resonate with you. Whether it’s implementing the various activities or trying different approaches to teaching and learning technology, you will walk away knowing yourself better as a learner, leading you towards the best next steps in your journey.
My First Amplification: Tech Troubleshooting Mini-Lesson
One of the first items I am going to implement is a student-friendly resource for technology troubleshooting. If I can give my students tools they need to independently walk through basic issues, it can lead to more time in the actual program and an increase in their confidence. I plan to do a troubleshooting mini-lesson, review the different approaches to solving tech issues, and allow the kids to attempt each one. Front-loading this information will pay off for me. We have all been there: ten hands in the air and only one you or a kiddo who needs help at the tech center while you are leading a small group. Imagine how much further we could get in our lessons if students were empowered to independently take on basic fixes. You can get my printable resources for this mini-lesson free at Teachers Pay Teachers.