Did you ever plan a lesson and have to change everything at the start of the lesson?
In my early days of integrating technology into the classroom I was teaching Chumash (in Bais Yaakov of Baltimore) using powerpoint. The class interacted and really stayed focused as they watched shorashim fly out from the psukim. They visually saw Eliezers 10 camels appear on the screen as the words appeared, etc. One day I was supposed to demonstrate this methodology to a group of students from Maalot Seminary here in Baltimore. About 5 minutes into the lesson the bulb on the projector blew. Since they were only in my class for one period, I decided it was not worth it to get someone to change the bulb. I quickly shifted gears and taught my psukim, using the blackboard and colored chalk (to get some of the same effect.) As they left, I told them that they learned something more important than if they had seen my original lesson. I told them they have to learn resilience and flexibility as teachers. They have to be able to think on their feet and change gears if need be.
Now I teach and coach technology at Ohr Chadash Academy. We started our "computer classes" after the chagim. This is what happened in my grade 3 computer class 2 weeks ago. Mrs. Rubenstein (the third grade teacher) and I have been collaborating on a technology integration to supplement a story in her reading book, Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say, about a grandfather’s immigration to America. We thought it would be a good idea to have children ask their parents and grandparents in what city and state (or country) they were born. From there we would go on Google maps and find the places on the maps and use the opportunity to learn about the different sections of the United States.
Other activities are being planned for the coming weeks, but that was the plan for that week.
I came into class, gave out the laptops and 90% of the laptops came up with the message “cannot connect to the Internet.” So instead of the planned activity we had an “IT for the day” lesson. Grade 3 (and Mrs. Rubenstein) now know how to switch networks on the laptops in case their wifi network was not working. It was gratifying to teach them all (Mrs. Rubenstein included) something that they are able to use at home, or in their grandparents’ home, or wherever they have trouble getting on a network. (and now, if our OCA IT person and I are not around to help, teachers know where to get IT help at OCA-in third grade, Mrs. Rubenstein's class!)
The important thing to learn from this is that technology itself should not be the lesson (unless, of course, in my case, you are teaching some aspect of technology). Technology helps drive the lesson, but it is in the background. The most important thing is to have a well thought out lesson. In addition, it's not the tech that makes for an enhanced learning experience but rather students taking ownership of their learning. Using tech to teach them how to learn is the important thing. Everything is in facilitation of that end.