A TECH-RICH RESOURCE
Kelly Tenkely’s blog is a one-stop shop for educators needing guidance on the latest tools.
As a second grade teacher, one lesson that Kelly Tenkely emphasized was the importance of sharing. In her current position as Technology Integration Specialist, she enthusiastically practices what she taught in the classroom by sharing information about educational tech tools and online resources. Last year, she hosted Webspiration Wednesdays for teachers looking to learn more, and she e-mailed tips to her district’s interested educators on a daily basis. “Some tell me they have a ‘Kelly file,’” she says.
In addition, Tenkely shares what she knows with the wider educational community, blogging at ilearntechnology.com about the tools to use and the ones to lose. “I pull great resources together—for math, for reading—so that teachers have that toolbox to draw from,” she says.
Connecting With A Connected Generation
Times and teaching have changed since Tenkely first started working for the Douglas County School District in Colorado. “We had two old, old computers that could barely run the Internet,” she says, “and no computer lab.” Today, students and teachers have access to mobile and stationary computer labs, 27 “loaded up” iMacs, document cameras and Promethean interactive whiteboards with student response systems. Teachers can sign up for the Macbook mobile labs, which travel from classroom to classroom. “In the past they weren’t so popular,” Tenkely says, but then she started Tech Quick Tip Tuesdays and “Teachers started fighting over them.”
While some teachers were wary of the new educational technology, the students needed no convincing. Their generation has never known a life without various techie gadgets used for communication, entertainment and learning. Most of the children in Tenkely’s district have grown up in a tech-rich environment. “They’re very familiar with the interface but don’t necessarily know how to use it well,” she says. In her experience, the extracurricular online time doesn’t translate into efficient, successful research skills. “I wouldn’t call them power users,” she says. Still, students usually approach a new technology or computer program with more confidence than their teachers.
Where do such occasions leave educators? In a coaching role, says Tenkely, and one that can be rewarding for both parties. Tenkely has found that students respond especially well when given a broad overview of a learning activity or piece of tech. Left to explore, “students get so excited about something they’ve found and it spreads—viral learning,” she says. “It’s fun to see students get so involved; you know that they are engaged and learning.”
Kelly Tenkely has worked as a K-5 technology specialist/teacher for 6 years. She currently teaches 3rd-5th grade technology and is the technology integration specialist and instructional coach for elementary school teachers in the Douglas County District. Find her on Twitter at ktenkely.