Heather Wolpert-Gawron

San Gabriel Valley CUE Teacher of the Year!

By on May 5, 2009

I won the San Gabriel Valley CUE (Computer Using Educators) Outstanding Teacher Award. Hazzah!

I’m not sure CUE realizes, however, that my enthusiasm for Ed Tech outweighs my knowledge.  My daily calls with questions to the computer teacher can attest to that.

I discovered technology late in my life.  I have grown up a theater geek, but in the past few years, I have added technology to my list of passions.  I used to be a very tech-tentative ELA teacher, but in 2005 I attended the CUE conference in Palm Springs, and I realized that the writing was on the educational wall.

I realized that if I didn’t evolve, I would be doing a disservice to my students.  If my literacy curriculum didn’t include teaching online literacy, I would be leaving my students in the industrial era of education.  (see Mathew Needleman’s Mr. Winkle Wakes for a visual post on this subject).

I deeply believe that unless we as educators take ourselves out of the boxes of lessons that made up our own educational past, and incorporate the technology that is our current students present and future, then we are not preparing them as we should.  Our job is to prepare them for the “real world,” and that world is different than the one we grew up in.  For that reason, I jumped into the uncomfortable deep end, where I not only learned to swim, I grew gills.

The CUE conference is a brain spa that gives tech-tentative teachers access to ideas, lessons, knowledge, and more importantly, bravery.  It re-charges your batteries.  It surrounds you with people looking to engage students and achieve standards.  You meet teachers of every subject, from every grade level, from every school model, and all they talk about is how to make education better through communication.

For teaching is not just about content, but also about the delivery of that content.  And technology is their Pony Express.

Teaching with technology has enriched my Language Arts program.  And, following my own advice, (see my earlier post, “Top Secret New Teacher Handbook” Step IV: Create an Elective) I morphed my Speech & Debate class into a podcasting network (iTunes, keyword: bulldogradio).

Along the way, I found myself in a special interest group of sorts.  As a tech user, I find myself advocating for the equipment and the permission to teach students using the tools that they are most engaged by.  (See my post, “How to be an Ed Tech Advocate.”)

Teaching technology is not a class, it should be a method of delivering knowledge.  As a language arts teacher, I teach with Harry Noden’s Image Grammar.  I use technology to do it.  I teach theme.  I use Twitter to do it.  I teach editing techniques.  I use Garageband to do it.  Technology doesn’t fight with one’s interests, it enhances them.  It makes this generation of students more on-board with the authenticity of the lesson.  It adds another layer to a subject, making it apply even more in their preparation for real life.

Look, I have to fess up.  I still have to ask my husband for help downloading onto my iPod.  But I don’t have to excel at everything before dipping my toe into the elements that I am interested in.  I have found, however, that with every element I try, I learn more about others that I didn’t think to try.  Knowledge, as with many things, ripples.  And so does enthusiasm.

I’d love to hear about your own ed tech journey…or has it yet begun?


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