Sunday, March 7, 2010

Everything I Ever Needed to Learn about Technology Integration I Learned from Back to the Future.

It is now time for the second installment of Everything I Ever Needed to Learn about Technology Integration I Learned from… The following quotes come from the first movie since many of the same lines are repeated in all three. I would like to thank everyone who took the time to vote and play a part in this silly venture by me. Here are the quotes and what I learned from them in no specific order.

George McFly: Last night, Darth Vader came down from planet Vulcan and told me that if I didn't take Lorraine out that he'd melt my brain.

I love helping other teachers integrate technology into their lessons. When teachers come to me and ask questions and want to know if there is anything out there that can improve what they already do, I get excited. However, there are still many teachers out there that do not and will not use new forms of technology in their classroom. Marty decided to scare his father into asking his mother out on a date. In schools, I’m not sure that fear is the best approach in getting teachers to try new things. Fear is what is usually keeping teachers away from new technology. I find it best to identify those teachers that might be resistant and slowly show them different ways new technology can be implemented into their lessons. Sometimes it takes only one piece of technology to get a teacher hooked and looking for other ways to spice up their lesson plans.

Marty McFly: Wait a minute, Doc. Ah... Are you telling me that you built a time machine... out of a DeLorean?

Dr. Emmett Brown: The way I see it, if you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?

I find it funny when I have conversations with teachers and they talk about the great technology they use in the classroom and it turns out they have been using the same PowerPoint presentations since 1999. I agree with Doc Brown when he says, “…why not do it in style?” Go out and look for the best and the brightest technology out there and find a way to integrate it into the classroom. I recently moved my note taking lectures to Prezi and my kids love it. Last week, I added Wallwisher to my Prezis. I understand that this is not the path for everyone, but teachers should not be satisfied with the run of the mill. Go out and make a splash when you use technology.

Lou: You gonna order something, kid?
Marty McFly: Ah, yeah... Give me - Give me a Tab.
Lou: Tab? I can't give you a tab unless you order something.
Marty McFly: All right, give me a Pepsi Free.
Lou: You want a Pepsi, PAL, you're gonna pay for it.

Knowing your audience is important when it comes to convincing teachers to include more technology into their lessons. If you do not have common ground, they may have no idea what you are talking about. I saw this play out at my school recently. I started a blog for my school to identify helpful sites for teachers and students. My first post was about how to use the blog and I ended it with suggesting that teachers add my blog to their RSS Feed for easy following. I was hit with a bunch of emails asking me what RSS meant and how to use it. My follow up post was explaining RSS Feeds and how to use them. I forgot that not all of the teachers in my building knew all of the same terminology I did. I understood how frustrated Lou must have felt when this young kid was talking gibberish. I think it’s important to remember that frustration as I talk to other teachers.

Dr. Emmett Brown: I'm sure that in 1985 plutonium is available in every corner drugstore, but in 1955 it's a little hard to come by.

As I search for goodies on the world wide web, I often get frustrated when I find great sites, but my school blocks them for some unknown reasons or we do not have the correct plug-ins to view them. Also, I have sent some great sites to teachers that do not have the ability to look at them at home because their home set up is not able to handle it. High-powered technology is great for some teachers, but sometimes I need to remember to find the basic tools that all teachers will be able to use and try at home. Try to remember that all districts, sadly, were not created equal and we should try to find sites and new technology that is accessible to all classrooms.

Marvin Berry: [on the phone, as Marty plays "Johnny B. Goode"] Chuck. Chuck. It's Marvin - your cousin, Marvin BERRY. You know that new sound you're looking for? Well, listen to this.

Sharing is important. New technology does not search for teachers; teachers need to actively look for it themselves. Let’s be honest, some teachers are just not going to look for it. When I started this blog, my Twitter account and my school blog, it was because I wanted to share the great sites I found with the teachers of the world. If you find something that you think other teachers would like, do not hesitate to share it with as many people you want. If Marvin Berry never picks up the phone, think about all of the great music we would have missed.

Marty McFly: [following] What-what the hell is a gigawatt?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions if there is something new out there. Even though I think of myself as a tech savvy person, I have told myself it’s ok to ask questions of other people. Whether it’s on Twitter or another person in my building, if I have a question, I will ask. Even if you are the “tech guy/gal” of your building, don’t be afraid to ask questions of others.

Marty McFly: I guess you guys aren't ready for that, yet. But your kids are gonna love it.

Some teachers look at new technology and don’t understand how it will affect their lives. However, they need to understand that the new technology is not about directly impacting their lives, it’s about introducing new ideas to students who might take those tools and create amazing things with them. Teaching students with the same tools I was taught with is not going to help prepare them for college. (Side Note: I graduated HS in 1997 but never used email at school because we did not have it and never used the computer lab because we didn’t have one. Teachers didn’t even have computers in their room. I received a great education without them, but why would I want to go backward when I could have my students move forward?) It’s important to convince reluctant teachers that using new technology in the classroom is not about making the teachers better; it’s about preparing the students. (Side Note 2: My amazing wife, @JenniferPro, said this quote would be perfect for the post and she was right. Thanks!)

Needles – What are you, chicken?

Needles (played wonderfuly by Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers) does a great job at getting Marty to do what he wanted by calling him a chicken. Marty got into that car accident with the Rolls Royce and lost his job because he couldn’t ignore the name-calling. A simple, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” could have prevented all of his problems. I know that there are some teachers in my building that are not as open minded when it comes to using new technology in their classroom and delete my tech emails without even opening them, but I’m not going to let that dictate how I work. I will continue to send out the updates to help the teachers that want the help despite their silly comments.

Doc Brown: If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.

This is just a great bit of advice from Doc. It applies to anyone in any field. I know I have said this to my students over the years and I truly believe it. Marty wants to become a Rock Star and with the help of the lyrics of Huey Lewis and the News, he can be a success. When I set out to use a new piece of technology I tell myself it is going to be a huge success and I will deal with any obstacles that arise. Think about Doc Brown the next time you plan to integrate new technology into the classroom.

I had a blast writing this post and I look forward to writing my next one. Thanks to IMDB for providing the exact quotes I needed. For the next post,  just remember one very important question, "Who you gonna call?"

- @TheNerdyTeacher


  1. Super post! You have lots of excellent points. I keep forgetting that everyone doesn't know what I know and others know great things that I would like to know. (PS Do I have to watch the movies? 'Cause I don't think I've seen any of them.)

  2. I wouldn't say you have to watch the movies, but it wouldn't hurt to watch the first one and see if you like it. If you are a child of the 80's, make the time to see it. It's a good time. Thanks for the post.

  3. Excellent post. I especially like the Marvin Berry one and the guitar riff portion. Kudos to your wife on the latter! All your points were well thought out and fit the quotes to a tee. Can't wait to read the ghostbusters post!

  4. Loved this post. Boy you can really think outside the square! Each and every quote is right on the mark.

  5. I hope that you continue this series, I am having so much fun reading it and looking at tech integration from a new perspective. You now have me watching movies to find out how they line up with tech integration :) Fantastic quotes and tech tie ins. I know it takes a lot of time to do this, I just want you to know that we appreciate the time you put into it! Thank you!

  6. Brilliant. Love how it all relates to educations. I too love the Back to the Future movies. Love the quotes. they are sport on re education. What is your next movie going to be?

  7. Land of Sunshine, Bright Ideas, Kelly, and Sparkley,

    Thanks for all of the positive comments. I'm excited I get to combine my love of movies with my love of education. I think my next post will be a Ghostbusters post since it was 2nd place and truly in my top 10 comedic movies. Billy Murray makes multiple appearances on that list. People have suggested so many movies I could use, I don't think I'll be at a loss for materail. Maybe after a year of posts, I'll put them in a e-book or something by movie or topic. Something else to add to my list I guess. ;-)

    Thanks again for reading and sharing.

    - @TheNerdyTeacher

  8. Entertaining, well thought out post ~ I just subscribed to your blog.


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