As we prepare students for a life to be lived in the 21st Century, technology is an integral part of daily life and work. As such, we need to not only educate students in how and when to use technology but also teach them to successfully navigate its many pitfalls and quandaries.

To help guide teachers in fulfilling their students digital and technological needs, the International Sociaty for Technology in Education has established the following standards:

Standard 1: Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity

So many things that are beyond the physical reach of our students are possible with today's technology. We can check the weather worldwide, "manipulate" objects larger than our classrooms, and view the Earth from space. We can interact with children in classrooms across the globe in real-time and expand our horizons without ever leaving the classroom. As teachers, it is incumbent upon us to take advantage of the new learning experiences available to our students!

Standard 2: Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments

Many things that students today take for granted, such as instant communication with someone around the world and immediate access to the wealth of knowledge available on the internet, did not exist 20 years ago. As we prepare our students to live in the world 10 or 15 years from now, it is important that not only current technology and trends but the evolution of those trends be taken into consideration. The best way to do that is to take advantage of enhancements to the curriculum that are available through technology, such as virtual author visits or e-pals around the world.

However, it is important that technology use and integration is driven by the curriculum. Technology should be used as an enhancement, never as a substitute for content or where it is superfluous or distracting. One of the best ways to plan technology use is through the Activity Types approach. This approach involves looking carefully at planned activities to see where technology would enhance those activities, rather than the often-taken approach of thinking of activities that can be done using a preferred technology.

Standard 3: Model Digital Age Work and Learning

It is important for our students to see us using technology in work and learning. One way to do this is to create on the computer as a class, using a digital projector and computer. Spelling words can be typed in front of students and class reports can be drafted this way using word processing software and printed for students to revise. Modeling how we as adults use computers in our daily activities is an important part of teaching our students how and when to use them. Class research could also be modeled this way, with students then breaking up into small groups to research on the classroom computers and report back their findings. The ways in which teachers can demonstrate the use of technology as a tool are endless, and doubtless vary from teacher to teacher.

Standard 4: Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility

The internet today is a risky place for a child. While monitoring and blocking programs can reduce the risks somewhat, there is always a chance that a child will see something they should not or will be contacted by a stranger with less-than-legitimate motivations. Therefore, it is important that we educate students about the risks and rules of the internet and other modern technologies, and teach them what to do if something happens.

There are some wonderful Internet Education programs available such as "Router's Birthday Surprise," an interactive workshop by NetSmartz. I had a chance to see this program in use in a 2nd grade classroom, and the students really absorbed the information and were engaged by the activities.

Standard 5: Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership

Technology provides increased opportunities for teachers to collaborate and to participate in professional development activities. There are myriad websites where teachers share lesson plans, materials, worksheets, and strategies. Some of my favorites are the Smart Exchange, where teachers can share interactive SmartBoard lessons and resources (searchable by subject and by state SOL) and ProTeacher, where teachers can network and discuss issues they face and also contribute and share resources. By creating resources that other teachers and students can benefit from, we can all work together to enhance our leadership skills. By networking and supporting each other, we can all grow personally and professionally in ways we otherwise might not.