In her book, In the Middle, Nancie Atwell relates a story about Donald Graves visiting her classroom and identifying the basis of her success: organization. " 'Look,' he explained seriously. 'You can't teach writing this way if you're not organized. ... You two always ran a tight ship and you still do, but it's a different kind of ship.' "
When I first read this story, I worried because I don't think of organization as being one of my primary strengths. But as I read further, I started to take heart. Several of the tools that Atwell recommends for organizing workshop classes are paper-based forms. She writes at length about the evolution of her system. Finally she asks "again and again, as a teacher, what do I really need to know?" (p. 106)
For Technology in the classroom, we can ask "what do we really need to know, and how much of that can we capture in distributed data acquisition tools?"