administration. Whatever degree of integration we were able to accomplish happened because we
worked in a technology-rich environment amongst colleagues who were forward thinking and risk-takers. This is mirrored in the results of the ACOT (1996) report. Having the access to technology is
certainly the first step in the right direction. But that alone doesn’t make the shift that is required to
genuinely integrate technology into the curriculum and instruction. The ACOT (1996) report states
that this shift requires “change that integrates new technologies and curricula with new ideas about
learning and teaching, as well as with authentic forms of assessment.” It also requires school
administration and leadership to be bold enough to make the drastic changes that are required.
This, along with what Cheryl Lemke describes as a “culture of openness, risk-taking and
adaptability within schools” where stakeholders can “investigate how these innovations will change
learning inside and outside of school”, will begin to pave the way for a genuine transformation from
a 20th century factory-based model to a 21st century way of learning (Lemke, 2010, p.268).
This wouldn’t be a completely honest reflection if I didn’t admit to having an ongoing tussle in my
own mind about where the balance should lie in technology use, especially in early elementary
school. So much of what we do is about putting in place the foundations on which children will
become lifelong learners. Much of our time as early years’ educators is also spent developing fine
and gross motor skills. I initially wondered whether skills that require children to use their hands
and bodies (so crucial for spatial awareness) like handwriting for example, should still be given due
importance in the classroom. Or if it mattered whether children could type rather than handwrite?
As the year went on, my concerns shifted. I began to appreciate that technology integration wasn’t
just about typing replacing handwriting. Or watching and listening to animated stories instead of
reading them oneself. Integrating technology was really about using the tools available to enhance
the learning that was happening in the classroom. It was okay if a method worked that didn’t
require a tech piece. In retrospect, I think I felt that because I was at a ‘technology efficient’ school,
for want of a better phrase, I had to use technology in every aspect of my teaching. That simply
wasn’t the case. The fact is that we had just touched the tip of the iceberg. There are literally
hundreds of tech related resources that make learning more relevant, plausible and real. Things
that help to create visualizations for our students and clarify concepts that are otherwise difficult to
teach. I began to appreciate that nothing could replace a child physically building a tower of ten
blocks to reinforce the concept of a group of ten objects. But there are some excellent interactive
teaching programs and simulations that help to solidify and ground that concept further. Or
perhaps the use of a blog or wiki to communicate and interact with the community one works with.
The possibilities are endless and what it requires is clever teaching and out-of-the-box thinking.
Both concepts can be intimidating for educators who have been honed to think along a linear path.
I am reminded of a line in the poem by Robert Frost where he writes ‘ I have miles to go before I
sleep’. I don’t feel burdened or overwhelmed by what needs to happen. But I am aware that it is a
big change and that it must happen. The question still remains whether we succeeded in integrating
technology successfully in Grade Three. Within the constraints of the existing program of study,
schedule, and physical space, I think we did well. My biggest takeaway is that, as a team, we were
able to create a “culture of openness, risk-taking and adaptability” (Lemke, 2010, p. 268). Given the
amazing support we received from within and outside the school, we were able to try something
new and in the process set ourselves on a path of discovery that will be near impossible to move
My learning journey continues. . .