2015 marks a great year for learning. Classrooms have more access and tools at hand than ever before. Teachers search for innovation and leadership in new ways. Students prepare for a world that we may not even be able to envision today. In order to prepare you and your students, we need change. 

The thinking behind continual improvement may be the answer. I believe that teachers can get comfortable. Now, that is not to say that there are not great teachers doing great things all over who have done the same things for years. Those teachers exist and will always exist. I am saying that at times, teachers may be missing learning opportunities that were not present in the past.

Continual improvement, but specifically in what direction? Technology has created avenues in our society that can quickly transport anyone to a global learning environment. This environment is autonomous, instant, real, at at times judgmental. It reflects real life outside of the brick and mortar building you may be in. This may not be the learning environment that you were raised in, but this is the reality for our students.

So, if we are sending students into this world, what should we be doing today? My no brainer answer is, integrate technology. Although I am a huge proponent of technology, it needs to be used correctly. Technology should not be used, to be used. I say that with caution because just using it will build foundational skills with your students, and is a starting point, but it is not the answer. Technology needs to be fused to your foundational elements you use in your classroom and needs to reflect a state of continuous improvement.

For example: If you give a weekly math quiz to your students, start by replacing the paper pencil test with a Google Form. After this, share the Google Form publicly through social networks. Chart your standings against other classrooms or the community. Connect with these classrooms through Google Hangouts and discuss the students strategies and tactics used to answer questions. 

Another example: Literacy centers are typically extremely traditional. You may begin by replacing your assessment sheets with Google Forms. Create self grading sheets through Flubaroo whittling down the work the teacher does to almost nothing. Next set up a choice board for your students. Include PDF's, ePubs, Audio files, or Interactive videos for your students to use. They will guide their own learning with a clear direction from you. Integrate science, social studies, and art into your files. Link authentic assessments right to each of the choices to drive your instruction of all subjects.

These examples are not meant to be overwhelming, they are to show you how powerful the use of technology can be. These lessons are not adding time to what you do in the classroom, but rearranging the work that is done. Removing the silos of teaching help students to build authentic connections, and saves classroom time. 

So I leave you with a challenge. Expose your students to the real world! Help them to collaborate globally, integrate technology, push your students to improve their future, and establish a community of continuous improvement.