Saturday, March 13, 2010

Everything I ever needed to know about technology integration I learned from watching Ghostbusters

I know this is a bit early, but I had some time and I thought I would bust this blog post out. In the next couple of weeks, I will be checking my Student Created Assessments and working on a research project for my Masters class on Assessments. As Bart Simpson would say, “Oh, the ironing.”

I had a blast typing this one up because it was really tough and forced me to really look deep into tech integration and how to best accomplish it for teachers and students. The quotes are not in movie order, just the order I thought of them and found them on Enjoy the post and let me know what you think. I will have a poll up shortly to have my PLN vote on my next movie topic.

Dr Ray Stantz: You know, it just occurred to me that we really haven't had a successful test of this equipment.
Dr. Egon Spengler: I blame myself.
Dr. Peter Venkman: So do I.
Dr Ray Stantz: Well, no sense in worrying about it now.

There is nothing worse than going to a presentation and realizing that the presenter does not seem to have a firm grasp on everything they are presenting. Imagine giving a presentation and not being able to answer many of the question posed to you about a new piece of technology. It is crucial that all teachers play with new tech and see how it works before trying to convince others teachers to use it. One bad presentation and teachers may never consider using it for their class. Worse yet, they may give up on all technolgy if it is a really bad presentation. So, please do not make the same mistake Ray made by not fully testing the equipment before going out into the public with it. You might not get as luck as they did.

Dr Ray Stantz: I think we'd better split up.
Dr. Egon Spengler: Good idea.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Yeah... we can do more damage that way.

Working together is a great idea when it comes to tech integration. The more people you have on board, the more likely you are to convince others to join in. Presenting to a large group might be the easiest way to spread the word about new pieces of technology, but it might not be the most effective way to convert the non-tech users. Think small and work together. Get a group of like-minded teachers and work together to convince smaller groups of teachers. Fill a computer lab with a few “ringers”. They can show struggling or reluctant teachers how easy it is to learn and use the new tool you are presenting.

Dr. Peter Venkman: Hee hee hee! "Get her!" That was your whole plan, huh, "get her." Very scientific.

Very simply, planning is very important to proper technology integration. I’ve been very excited about using new tools in the classroom, but I needed to wait and use them in the right place. Not all of my lessons plans will accommodate every Web 2.0 Tool I come across. Proper planning needs to be done to ensure I get the best results out of the lesson, the students and the tech tool.

The same can be said about using the tech with other teachers. Make sure everything is planned out as best as you can to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Prepare the same way you would for class. As teachers, it is easy to get flummoxed when presenting new material to students, but we shouldn’t get so stressed out when presenting to other teachers. Proper planning will prevent being chased out of the Library like Ray, Egon and Peter were.

Dr. Egon Spengler: There's something very important I forgot to tell you.
Dr. Peter Venkman: What?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Don't cross the streams.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Why?
Dr. Egon Spengler: It would be bad.
Dr. Peter Venkman: I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, "bad"?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
Dr Ray Stantz: Total protonic reversal.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Right. That's bad. Okay. All right. Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.

Make sure that all parts of a new tool are explained before students or teachers dive in. The last thing we want is for them to make a big mistake or encounter problems that leave a bad taste in their mouth. Sadly, one bad experience could turn them off to different forms of technology later on.

Dr. Peter Venkman: We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!

This positive attitude is important when trying to convince other teachers to use new technology in their class or showing students the importance of using Web 2.0 Tools. Show the passion you have for technology and you will be rewarded. Peter was excited about catching his first ghost and he wanted everyone around him to know it. The great thing about Peter is that he was the Showman of the group. The rest of the team needed him to spread the word and get everyone else in NYC excited about having his or her ghosts busted. Teachers need to approach tech integration the same way. Be excited and sell the web tool to everyone in the room. If you are excited, they will be excited. That’s when sharing and learning can take place.

Dr Ray Stantz: Listen... do you smell something?

I’m not sure how this fits in with tech integration, but this is one of my favorite movie quotes of all time. I mean, what the heck does that even mean? I assume Ray knew what he was talking about, but the statement confused Peter and Egon. I guess it’s about communication. Communication is always important. Whether it’s about Ghost Busting or tech integration. ;-)

Janine Melnitz: You're very handy, I can tell. I bet you like to read a lot, too.
Dr. Egon Spengler: Print is dead.

Well, this says it all. Back in 1985, Egon knew were the world was heading. As an English teacher, it is hard for me to hear. However, I like to think that print has just evolved. Tech is where most of our reading takes place. I read the paper on-line. My Kindle allows me to read many books at once without taking up space and killing trees. Showing the other benefits of using tech in the classroom might persuade more teachers to ride the tech train. I tell teachers about the amount of paper and copying time I save by using programs like Livebinders to store documents and they are amazed. Sometime the tool is not enough to convince people. Showing them the benefits of using the tool long term might help win more people over.

Dr. Egon Spengler: I have a radical idea. The door swings both ways, we could reverse the particle flow through the gate.
Dr. Peter Venkman: How?
Dr. Egon Spengler: [hesitates] We'll cross the streams.
Dr. Peter Venkman: 'Scuse me Egon? You said crossing the streams was bad!
Dr Ray Stantz: Cross the streams...
Dr. Peter Venkman: You're gonna endanger us, you're gonna endanger our client - the nice lady, who paid us in advance, before she became a dog...
Dr. Egon Spengler: Not necessarily. There's definitely a *very slim* chance we'll survive.
[pause while they consider this]
Dr. Peter Venkman: [slaps Ray] I love this plan! I'm excited to be a part of it! LET'S DO IT!

Sometimes it’s a good thing to go against traditional thought for a great cause. Stress this to teachers that are considering using tech in their lessons. Some of the best decisions I have made as an educator have been the ones that have gone against traditional thought. Currently, I have students creating their own assessments for The Great Gatsby because I have sworn off traditional assessments for 10 weeks. Teachers have scoffed, but I have seen some of the most creative ideas the past couple of weeks. Kids are talking and sharing ideas on how to express the themes from the story in their projects. They are more involved in the learning process now than they were for other books. No longer are they memorizing facts and spitting them back out. They are taking information and creating new ideas with them.

New Technology should be approached in the same way. Think of lessons that you currently teach and consider approaching them from a completely different perspective. Have students involved in the process. They might show you a tool or two that can change the way you teach. Do not be afraid to go against the standard. That is how true innovation comes about.

Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, "biblical"?
Dr Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God type stuff.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Exactly.
Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling.
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes...
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria.


Dr. Peter Venkman: Ray has gone bye-bye, Egon... what've you got left?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Sorry, Venkman, I'm terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought.

Some teachers will feel this way when new tech is being introduced. It is up to the teachers with the tech experience to explain and calm these teachers down. Rally the tech troops and work together to calm the nerves of the un-tech teachers. For students, be prepared to answer plenty of questions from the class and possibly the parents. People are scared of the unknown and it is the job of the teacher to reassure everyone that it is going to be ok and the new tech is not out to get anyone. For some, their world of teaching is ending, but it’s important to show them that new teaching world that is replacing it is not that scary.

Dana Barrett: You know, you don't act like a scientist.
Dr. Peter Venkman: They're usually pretty stiff.
Dana Barrett: You're more like a game show host.

Sometimes when a teacher presents new tech, they will have to act like a game show host and not a teacher. Make the new tech seem exciting and very rewarding. In college, I was required to take an acting class or be in a school play to fulfill my education degree. I loved this idea, because it really weeded out the people who could not speak in front of a group of people. Teaching is even tougher than performing on stage because at least the audience wants to be there. That cannot always be said about the people sitting in the classroom. I ended up being in a one act and I loved it. I understood that I needed to put on a performance in every class that I taught to get the kids excited about the material. If I’m not excited, why should they be? The same is true about integrating new tech into the classroom or the building. If you want other teachers to use a new piece of technology, you need to sell it to them. They need to feel the energy you felt when you first used it. Share that experience with them.

Dana Barrett: That's the bedroom, but nothing ever happened in there.
Dr. Peter Venkman: What a crime.

This is a stretch, but there is nothing worse than underutilizing tools. As a teacher, we have access to some amazing tools on the Internet and it is a crime for teachers not to use them. Using these tools can make education better for everyone. Students will love them if they are given the chance to use them and create. Parents will love them because they will see their children passionate about assignments and using the computer for something other than Facebook. These are wonderful tools that can improve education. As teachers, we need to advocate to the rest of the world about the importance of using these tools to help our students be prepared for the future.

Winston Zeddemore: Ray, when someone asks you if you're a teacher, you say, "YES"!

OK, so I changed the word “god” to “teacher”. That is how I feel though. I love telling people that I’m a teacher and I love that I’m a Nerdy one at that. Using tech in the classroom is something I deem important for my students. I see some of them growing and learning in different ways. I’m sure there were teachers that lifted their nose at the thought of using overhead projectors or even using electronic mail to communicate with parents. Now, they cannot live without them. As new tech comes and goes, it is important that we stand up and say, “Yes, I’m a teacher and I’m going to use anything possible to teach my students.”

This post has been the hardest one to write. I love “Ghostbusters”. It is one of my favorite comedies and overall movies. However, this movie really lends itself to the physical comedy and timing. There are some very quote worthy lines, but some are not as funny when pulled out of context. I hope this one lives up to the standards over the other posts. I’ll have a new poll up later this month so the masses can vote on the next movie topic. I’m always open to other movie suggestions if you have them.

Thanks to all of my readers and I look forward to all of your comments.

P.S. Here are a couple of gems for you to watch. Look for the awesome cameos in this video. What were these people thinking?

This is for the truly Nerdy Teachers out there. I loved this cartoon growing up.

Word cloud made with WordItOut


  1. I enjoy your "Everything I ever..." posts. I agree with a lot of your points, but I have a different take on explaining all the parts of something to students before letting them use it (don't cross streams). I think students learn best from their mistakes and find that students do better on projects if I give them a class to experiment with a new app before they start in on their project. Cool stuff though. I like your thoughts.

    - a fellow nerdy teacher.

  2. First of all, I had completely forgotten that there was a Ghostbusters cartoon! Ahh, the memories you just brought back. This is a most excellent movie. My brother and I played Ghostbusters over and over slinking around our basement growing up. You did an excellent job with this...each time you write one of these posts I wonder how you are going to pull it off, and you always do! " you smell something?" :D It is all about communication.
    You have me watching movies looking for how they tie into tech integration...which means that I am quickly becoming an even nerdier teacher, and loving every minute!

  3. I love this series! Thank you! You don't only make this an entertaining read but you really do find great nuggets of ways to integrate technology. I think many teachers new to technology would enjoy these posts and not feel pressured to use technology. This is fun!


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