As an educator, I believe that every lesson should come alive and connect with students on a personal level. I also believe that all teachers should have a drive in connecting with their students.

“It is up to teachers to ignite a spark that is going to catch fire with their audience. Just like fire needs fuel, oxygen, and heat to create a spark, a teacher needs to test out different combinations of ingredients to catch the interest of their students.”

For me, technology has been the spark to ignite learning and innovation in my classroom and on my campus. With the inclusion of technology in our everyday lessons, we are given amazing opportunities to reach the “unreachable” –  to reach those students who have not yet discovered the joy of learning. Our goal is to create a spark and have it spread across not only our campus, but our district, state, and country as well.

As educators, we need to be leaders and innovators both in and out of the classroom. Change doesn’t come from institutions. Change comes from individuals who buck the system and don’t accept the status quo. When individual teachers take risks, others take notice and a movement begins. Yet change can bring about fear of unknown challenges ahead. When we ditch that fear, anything is possible. We search for and create lessons that allow us to discover the best ways to engage our students while building upon our high goals and standards year after year. We strive to create student-centered lessons, and where appropriate, integrate technology into the classroom to help limit distractions, as well as motivate and engage our students to learn and create. As an educational technology innovator, I strive to encourage my colleagues to integrate more ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) standards into their direct instruction, which incorporates not only common core standards but also integrates tools, strategies, and ideas to draw students into learning, collaborating, and creating. The implementation of technology is a critical need in the 21st-century classroom, increasing student learning during instruction in the midst of our fast-paced digital world.

In our ever-changing digital society, the modern classroom has become a breeding ground for distractions or boredom for thrill-seeking youngsters. Many classrooms have become a place where students fiend for their digital media fixes, only to be told to put their devices away. How can we for a moment believe that because a bell rings our students’ digital life comes to a pause? These distractions can also arise from the improper implementation of technology by educators, stemming from a lack in professional development practice, and in turn resulting in loss of interest from the students, who then resort to using their own technology during class in improper ways.To limit distractions in our classroom environment, we must present information in ways that will truly engage our students.

“It’s not about changing the ways we teach our students; it’s about changing the ways we REACH our students.”

Utilizing the tools our students use for communication outside the classroom inside the classroom provides a great opportunity to reach them. This task can prove to be beneficial when realizing each student learns at a different pace and in different ways. We wish to create a non-static environment, rich with ever-changing student options, incorporation of differentiation, and one that encourages a project-based learning/collaborating mindset which our students need. The goal is to have our students become the creators of content, not just educational consumers. Students need to become so engaged that they can’t help but to pay attention in class. In this “living classroom” setting, information is constantly being supplied to, or discovered by, students through many different mediums, all the while allowing the lesson to be malleable from hour to hour, period to period, and day to day. These living classrooms create an environment where students do not have the time to become distracted or board. It is up to us as teachers to create an educational space where our students can’t help but become collaborative communicators emboldened by the opportunity to become creative citizens full of curiosity.

In our ever-changing world, it is becoming more and more evident that no student should be utilizing more technology outside the classroom than they are inside of it. We should not be overlooking the strengths that our students have been cultivating since birth. Technology is a known commodity to our digital natives, and to tell them they are not allowed to use it is analogous to tying their hands behind their back. The use of technology in our classrooms can empower teachers to engage and motivate students using the most advanced and appropriate technology the world has to offer, using the tools our students have grown up using. Through the integration of technology, we can become a new and different kind of teacher- one who takes problems head-on with a fresh set of eyes, who does not back down from a challenge because they deem the situation to be too hard. We have become educators privileged with an opportunity to share with many of our students the joy of learning for the first time.

Author’s note: *This is an exert from Joe Marqez’s blog post on his site “Sons Of Technology: “Ditch That Fear“.


Joe Marquez is a leader and technology coach for the Clovis Unified School District. His innovating spirit, outgoing attitude and outrageous personality has earned him the coveted titles of Certified Google Innovator, Certified Google Trainer, Common Sense Ambassador, Apple Teacher, and Microsoft Innovative Educator. Joe is an adjunct Professor for the Fresno Pacific University Educational Technology Master’s Program and guest instructor for the Fresno State Teacher Track Academy and Teachers Pathway T.A.C.O.S (Technology, Aerospace, and Collaboration Opportunities in STEM) Summer Institute. Joe is also the Founder of the professional development site www.SonsOfTechnology.com

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Joe Marquez

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