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I Love Technology?

Technology.  It is defined, according to Merriam-Webster online (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/technology), as "the use of science in industry, engineering, etc., to invent useful things or to solve problems." It derives from the root word "techne" a Greek word meaning "art, skill, or cunning of hand."  I savored the words "useful, art, cunning,  and solving problems."  At our rural northeast Georgia school district, the teachers have been given a new technological tool, the iPad2, and our students are officially allowed to bring and use their own technology, tablets, laptops, phones, and hand-helds, to do specific tasks.  Life at work has become modernly efficient and fast-paced, and my sharpened technology skills are ready. I mean, who doesn't love technology with all its mysterious magic wrapped up in shiny metal and cold glass?  Absolutely, I love technology--until it doesn't work.

Last week, I was ready, and the network wasn't.  After hours of struggling to scan as many of my students' test answer sheets as I could in between the waves of intermittent Internet signals, one of my students who was studying my frustrated expression quietly asked, "Can't you grade these manually?"  I realized right then and there that I have a collection of wonderful technological tools that help us do meaningful work in my English classes that don't depend on electricity or a network signal.   For example, the lowly pencil, a technological marvel of the late 16th century, doesn't need electricity or a battery that has to be charged regularly.  First, it can be fixed easily--anyone can sharpen it with a manual pencil sharpener (which doesn't need electricity either).  It even comes with a handy eraser stuck on the end.  It is inexpensive and easy to find replacements should it break.  Most importantly, even the most immature learners can learn to use it after a bit of guided practice.  That last thought reminded me of a college professor in one of my educational foundation classes who once said, "Develop the kind of teaching skills that don't depend on a single technology.  If the only available tools were dirt and a stick, realize that you could still teach a child to read and write."  After a deep breath and remembering my task which was giving meaningful performance feedback, I put the iPad down and picked up a tool that was still working and finished my work.

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