ISTE Teacher Standard 3: Helping Teachers Choose the Best Tech Tools

This week I explore the third ISTE Teacher Standard: Model Digital Age Work and Learning through the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University and I try to answer the following question: “How can teachers exhibit knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative professional in a global and digital society?”

My classmates, professors and I discussed the idea that this particular standard covers a very broad range of topics and can be hard to digest, therefore, I made sure to pay particularly close attention to the sub-standards this week:

a. Demonstrate fluency in technology systems and the transfer of current knowledge to new technologies and situations.

b. Collaborate with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital tools and resources to support student success and innovation.

c. Communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital age media and formats.

d. Model and facilitate effective use of current and emerging digital tools to locate, analyze, evaluate, and use information resources to support research and learning (Source: ISTE Teacher Standards).

After ruminating on the standards for a bit and looking at my own current workplace challenges, I decided to focus on the last of the sub-standards: model and facilitate effective use of current and emerging digital tools.

How can I help teachers find the right technology tools and use them in a meaningful way?

This is a big job! Dr. Jason Rhode investigated this idea and noted that many teachers find the task of selecting the proper tool to be overwhelming, “With the seemingly endless selection of technology tools available, how do educators choose the right technology tools to incorporate into their teaching?” (Rhode, 2014). With so many options to choose from, where do teachers even start? Apple alone boasts having over 80,000 apps designed specially for educational purposes. While this gives teachers a treasure trove of tools to select from, the multitude of options can leave teachers throwing their hands in the air from overwhelmed frustration.

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Where Do I Even Start?

The first step in finding the right tech tool for the job (or, in my case, assisting other teachers in this task) is determining your desired objectives. What is the end goal? What should the students know and be able to do? The University of Colorado describes the importance of having clearly thought-out learning objectives: “The philosopher Seneca once said, ‘If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.’ When you know where you are headed, you can more easily get there. Well-defined and articulated learning objectives are important because they provide students with a clear purpose to focus their learning efforts, direct your choice of instructional activities, and guide your assessment strategies” (The Center for Faculty Development). At this point in the process, technology should not play a role. The technology is meant to enhance already purposeful learning, by first concentrating on the learning objective, the technology doesn’t take center stage.

A Step Further

My school currently has a Tech Task Force that uses the ISTE Standards and SAMR Model to help guide us on a path that keeps technology from being used for the wrong reasons. I have talked at length about the ISTE Standards, but you can revisit those here. The SAMR Model was developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura as a way to help teachers incorporate technology into classroom:

Photo Credit: Kathy Schrock
Photo Credit: Kathy Schrock

The SAMR Model has been extremely helpful to me in seeing how I can implement technology with purpose, but the SAMR Model is not as widely recognized as Bloom’s Taxonomy, a classification of learning objectives. In order to meet teachers where they’re at, I think it would be helpful to reference Bloom’s Taxonomy while introducing teachers to the SAMR Model. Kathy Schrock, a well-respected educational technologist has combined the two models into one:

Photo Credit: Kathy Schrock
Photo Credit: Kathy Schrock

Using the ISTE Standards, the SAMR Model, and Bloom’s Taxonomy as a guide, teachers can make more informed decisions that will not only use technology, but use the technology in a very meaningful way.

What Next?

With the learning objectives established and a transformative mindset in place, teachers can now move into actually selecting the right tools for the job. Annie Tremonte, one of my classmates recently introduced me to Graphite and EdTechTeacher, two sites created to help teachers discover and select tools that have been tested and reviewed by fellow teachers.



Teachers can use Graphite to find unbiased reviews and ratings of education technology tools across a broad range of core academic subjects – English Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies – and identifies products that help develop deeper learning skills like creativity, thinking and reasoning, and collaboration. Each product is tested and rated for learning potential based on engagement, pedagogy, and support. Teachers search for products by subject, skills, and grade bands using intuitive filters, and all products are mapped to Common Core State Standards. Editorial reviews are bolstered by practical insights from a growing community of educators about what products they use and how they use them (Source: Common Sense Media).



EdTechTeacher was designed to support educators in their quest to enrich student learning experiences through emerging technologies by experienced classroom teachers. The site provides educators with resources to help teachers leverage technology to improve teaching and learning. Teachers can select from projects and lesson plans, app recommendations, tech tools and assessment rubrics, all tested by fellow teachers (Source: EdTechTeacher).

Modeling and Celebrating

With a plan in place, the final step in my role as educational technology mentor is the process of modeling the successful implementation of technology in the classroom. Helen Crompton, an assistant professor of instructional technology, writes that “Modeling should be woven into our teaching as a general best practice” (2014). If teachers are learning how to select tools for their own purposes, they will be able to turn around and model those skills for their students, who, in turn, will be able to select the proper tools for their learning. In order for teachers to model for their students, it is important for teachers to model for one another. As teachers find and use tools, it will be imperative for those teachers to model and demonstrate their new knowledge and skills for fellow teachers. While it is not always practical for teachers to visit one another’s classrooms, because of schedules and time constraints, it could be helpful to celebrate educators while sharing their successes (and challenges) in an online format.

In my last position, I would publish monthly “Spotlight on Innovation” recipients, teachers who stepped outside of their comfort zone and used technology in a new way. These teachers were then featured on the library website and we celebrated by the faculty:

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This small gesture boosted the moral among teachers and helped others to feel safe in taking risks and trying new things. It is important to note that teachers at all levels of implementation were celebrated, a risk to one teacher might be second nature to another. However, by meeting the teachers where they’re at and celebrating their individual successes, they were more inclined to publicly share their successes, confess their challenges and continue experimenting.

How can you celebrate your teachers? How can you help them through these stages of planning and implementing? How can these small changes make a big difference for your professional practice as well as your students’ learning?


Crompton, H. (2014, July 24). Know the ISTE standards-t 3: model digital age learning [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Dunn, J. (2014, December 3). The 25 best education apps for connected classrooms [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Florida Center for Instructional Technology. (n.d.). Technology Integration Matrix. Retrieved May 1, 2015, from College of Education: University of South Florida website:

Preskett, T. (2011, December 5). Choosing web 2.0 tools for teaching and learning [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Rhode, J. (2014, January 21). 7 steps for choosing the best technology tools for your teaching [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Schrock, K. (2015, April 1). Bloomin’ apps. Retrieved May 7, 2015, from Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything website:

The Center for Faculty Development. (n.d.). Learning objectives. Retrieved May 8, 2015, from Assessment and Instructional Alignment: An Online Tutorial for Faculty website:

Tremonte, A. (2015, February 16). Digital independence in the classroom [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Thought Process

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4 thoughts on “ISTE Teacher Standard 3: Helping Teachers Choose the Best Tech Tools

  1. Fantastic Becky. Your inclusion of Apple’s advertisement of 80,000 apps really showcases that challenge we now find ourselves in – with more tools available than ever before, how do we even begin to make selections as educators? Sometimes more isn’t always better. The SAMR model that is aligned with Bloom’s Taxonomy is a new resource to me that I am excited to put into action. Thank you for finding and sharing this! The hippasus resource that showcases the use of this model with specific tools as examples really makes this clear. Great reflection on this standard. I can see this information being very useful to fellow educators!

  2. Very concise documentation of your exploration of this topic. This blog post contains many ready-to-use tools. Thank you for providing links to your sources, and for modeling your thought process. I really like the Spotlight on Innovation. I’d like to investigate how we can use the Library website as a hub for school information. We need a common “homepage” that connects us to each other.

  3. Thanks for sharing about the SAMR model! You are right to hit on the important task of modeling how to use various tools as a way to also teach students the tools. I think we are often rushed that we don’t slow down to see the importance of that process. Thanks for bringing that up!

  4. Your post was very informative, especially Kathy’s Schock’s model of SAMR combined with Bloom’s Taxonomy. This is a great tool for educators when planning technology with higher order thinking skills. Thanks for introducing , EdTechTeacher as another resource to enhance student learning. There are just too many resources! But what I was most impressed with your post was, how teachers need to model their new knowledge and skills with technology with peers and then celebrate. Many times I feel confined to my classroom, too busy to notice the wonderful learning happening in other classrooms. By teachers celebrating their success with other peers, I would think it would inspire others to explore new avenues too.
    Thanks for sharing, Becky!

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