Thanks to a great conversation with my friend Cheryl, I have been thinking a lot about the many great new tools that we have at our disposal. The challenge that we have is not really how to use the tools, but how to make them a meaningful part of our curriculum. It is hard not to walk into a classroom and show a teacher a new tool without saying, "This is so cool!" More and more, I find myself saying, "This is an essential tool!" or "This is a great tool for helping your students learn to..."
I guess the question that arose in my head during this conversation is this. Can we get to the TOOL phase without going through the COOL phase? So much of what I know about technology integration has come from playing with cool technologies. If I had simply said I won't use it until I have a great curricular need, I might never have used it. In other words, it is through playing that I learned enough about the tool to figure out how it could be effectively integrated. So I think we need to have some play time for teachers while we also have the discussion about whether or not there is an effective implementation for that tool.
I guess what I am really saying is let's have fun exploring these tools. The integration will come along as we get to know the tools better. We need to give our teachers permission to play a little!