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How One Teacher Builds Technological Confidence

By The Room 241 Team March 21, 2014

When Rod Powell’s school went one-to-one, giving a computer to every student, he was thrilled with the opportunity for professional development offered by the North Carolina school district where he teaches history.

North Carolina teacher Rod Powell brings multiple digital tools into his classroomBut he knew he wanted to learn about more than the machine. Powell wanted to know how to bring technology into his students’ history and social studies learning.

“I wanted to know how to make it part of the pedagogy,” Powell said.

Finding Good Fortune in Collaboration

Powell feels lucky. He was able to prepare himself by reaching out to the Center of Teaching Quality’s Collaboratory, a place where teachers can get together and share ideas to discover what works.

“This made a world of difference,” Powell said. “You are used to your kids. You know what your kids can do. (With collaboration) you get a different perspective when you hear what other people experience when they try the same thing.”

Today, Powell picks up ideas on Twitter and passes them along. He manages three Scoop.It accounts where he stores ideas he loves the best. Powell even uses one Scoop.It page — a sort of online newspaper of articles he picks — in his classroom. Every other week, students pick an article to read and then create a Google presentation about it.

It’s the current-events review brought into the modern age.

His students can even pick ways to present their learning: Will they create a video, post a webpage, craft an infographic or write a traditional paper? Technology empowers Powell’s students to find their voice, he said.

Becoming More Confident with Technology

Through training at his school, collaboration with others and careful curation of resources, Powell’s confident in using technology in the classroom and can pass that along to his students.

Powell shares these tips for teachers looking to build their own technological confidence:

Find Technology that Works for You

Powell uses Twitter, following different teaching groups and hashtags including #historyteacher. He then tags things he wants to follow up on or use in class through Scoop.It. Through these channels, he also shares what his class is doing.

“I think you really have to experiment with Twitter, Scoop.It, Pinterest and the rest of them to really find which one feeds your learning style,” Powell said. “There is almost too much to keep up with. That’s why it’s important to pick one or two that you will use.”

Share Your Work

With a preferred tool, teachers should share what they are doing, particularly with Common Core lessons, Powell said.

“You do things because it is the way you’ve always done them,” Powell said. “When you share things, people may ask you questions about why you do things one way or another. It forces you to look into your habits.”

Curate the Ideas of Others

It’s not just about a single classroom. Social media and other collaboration tools can help find new ideas for using technology and teaching. Make sure to have a way to collect those for later use.

Also, don’t forget to give feedback to others.

“Technology can really help break down classroom walls,” Powell said.

Don’t Forget the Basics.

Always remember the first thing is the lesson.

“What are you really trying to do? What are you trying to teach?” Powell asks.

At the heart of everything in classrooms is “good old-fashioned teaching and learning.”

“Don’t make what you do with technology about the technology,” Powell said. “Do what you do as a good teacher.”


Collaboratory, Center of Teaching Quality.


Rod Powell, History Alive in the Classroom,



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