In this course we took what we knew of best practice, and started to reflect on how teachers at our schools integrated technology. Some of the research I conducted at my school suprised me as most if not all my teachers were using the incredible technology I purchased for them, as direct instruction tools, even after I've coached them otherwise. It was here that I understood as a leader my role in starting from the beginning, aka lesson planning, to ensure that teachers are being incredibly intentional in how technology will enhance student learning, and support best practice.
At the beginning of the course I defined technology integration as, “the ability to use technology for specific objectives and tasks.” After this course I don’t feel that my definition has changed much. Most of the information I gathered in class helped me understand the differences in how people view technology and how to support an environment of change in my school to increase the number of times my teachers integrate technology into their lessons. I also was able to realize through my classroom observations (Learning Tasks) that teachers were using technology in many ways that I was unaware of (like Excel data collection for example) and other teachers were underutilizing their technology. Ultimately I will leave this course with a better understanding of how to implement change at my school when it comes to implementing technology.
Ultimately technology integration won’t occur if teachers aren’t willing to take risks and experiment with technology. In my research I found most teachers at my school felt they grew up with technology (generation Y) and understood the importance of using technology in the classroom. Some of them attempted to use technology; others weren’t sure where to start. Because of this I discussed a solution with my Principal to highlight and celebrate teachers who were using technology in an innovative way. At the beginning of every staff meeting we are having a teacher share how and what technology they are using to enhance their instruction. In the area of Professional Development, I’m still attempting to figure out the best strategy to ensure information gained by teachers is implemented into the classroom.
As I learned from the Innovative Schools Network PD360 site, most PD information teachers learn is not implemented into their classrooms. As a leadership team we’ve discussed how to prevent this problem from occurring with our own teachers when we send them to conferences. We want to invest money in sending our teachers to conferences because we understand the benefit in having teachers see and learn about best teaching practices from others outside our school. Some of our thoughts include having teachers create presentation or lead professional developments for our staff. I think what would be even better would be to have the teacher implement at least one new learning from the conference or PD in their classroom, then document either via video, blog, or other media to be shared with teachers. In my experience I’ve found that when teachers see specific examples of how innovative practices are used in a classroom, there’s a stronger chance of that practice being transferred. In the same manner if the teacher only hears about the practice in an abstract sense (sitting in a meeting and listening to someone share key points of the practice) it will less likely be transferred to the classroom.
When I was asked to create a collaborative lesson plan, I didn’t immediately see the benefit. I understood the concept, but not the abstract. After researching and eventually constructing my own template, I began to see the ramifications of having the technologist plan with the classroom teacher. As a previous 6th grade math teacher, I didn’t have a teammate to work and collaborate with. I knew other teachers who worked together (because they taught the same subject and grade level) and of course I understood the benefit of that as well. It wasn’t until I sat down with my teachers a few weeks ago and went over a lesson plan with them that the “light bulbs” started going off. Making connections to pedagogy and technology was easy for me but of course that wasn’t as straight forward to the teacher. With my teachers we implemented basic technology practices (using clickers for assessment and feedback to students) and video recording students (to increase student discourse). As my teachers implemented the technology they talked about they were amazed at how easy it was to accomplish and how well their students responded (high student engagement). It really didn’t take us that much time so moving forward I’m going to continue to use the collaborative lesson plan template I made to help teachers integrate technology into their classrooms.
Technology as an Assessment Tool
I didn’t think I would learn anything from this part of the course since my school is already so deeply engaged with various online assessments. Our school has a strong culture of data usage to drive assessment and thus we take great interest in the kinds of online assessments we use. What didn’t occur to me before however, was how each of my teachers were using both this summative and their own formative data. After my field experience where I observed various classroom teachers I found that all teachers were using the summative assessments to varying levels of degree and were also creating their own assessment tools using software like Excel or Confer. What was interesting to me wasn’t so much that teachers used their summative data differently (since our school has so much summative data it can’t be expected that all teachers are using the data in the same way) but was how invested teachers were in getting technology to work to support their formative data. One teacher had built an impressive Excel program from scratch without any support or training from the district or myself. I realized that I had “experts” in using technology as a formative assessment right in my building, but no other teachers knew about it. I was reminded of how teachers create amazing tools in “pockets”, even right within their school without it being shared or understood by anyone else. As a result of this I shared and highlighted this particular tool in hopes of other teachers adopting it in their own classroom.
The more I research standards (from Common Core to ISTE) I realize that “technology standards” aren’t really that important. Technology changes so quickly that “learning how to use a mouse” is now becoming an outdated standard because of all the touchscreen devices. Instead teachers should be focusing on good pedagogy and learning principals first, then thinking about how technology can support those principals second. For example, in my lesson critique paper, I watched a class create information on their Presidential Candidates using software called HyperStudio. After a little research I found HyperStudio but it hasn’t been updated since 2008 and is pretty much “no-name” software when compared against PowerPoint and ActivInspire. If instead we say use technology to “create original works as a means of personal or group expression,” then we’re really just identifying a NETS-S skill and not a technology specific skill (ISTE 2007).
I learned a lot about how to support teachers in the use of technology integration through change management, collaborative lesson plans, as a formative assessment tool, and to support pedagogy. I feel like this was helpful in my role as the Instructional Technology Leader but I still feel like I didn’t learn a lot about specific ways to integrate technology. Earlier I said that teaching specific technology skills to students is useless because technology changes so fast, so in a way I’m going against what I said earlier by asking for more specific technology application models. I think there’s a balance when it comes to learning specific kinds of technology (like Google Apps) and how to support pedagogy in general but for me I yearn to know how specific technology, like an Android tablet, can be used to support Pedagogy. Overall I enjoyed the class and I have knowledge that I can use in the future as I continue to help teachers integrate and use technology to support their instruction and student learning.
I definitely had less artifacts in this course as we spent most of our time writing research papers instead of creating tools to benefit us and the teachers in our building. That being said I was able to develop artifacts that I would like to discuss. First is my Collaborative Lesson Plan, which I created after seeing that many of my teachers did a poor job integrating the technology that I had purchased for them, into their classroom.
I remember going into 6 classrooms, all of which I had purchased Netbook carts (each kid had their own device) and $4,000 Promethean Boards, only to see the teacher up at the front, drawing the interactive whiteboard like it was an old chalkboard, with the Netbooks sitting in their carts. I realized that I needed to create a lesson plan template, that a teacher could start to fill out, but that I as their coach could help them integrate their technology at higher levels of Bloom's Digital Taxonomy. This was a huge success as teachers were able to see how they didn't have to do an incredible amount of extra work when it came to technology integration.
Another artifact was my PowerPoint of Web 2.0 tools I made for my teachers, to give them extra resources in their classrooms. One thing I added however, is what I called the "create" or the "consume" tools. In a traditional classroom students are expected to consume from the teacher, the one person who supposedly holds all the knowledge. Not much has changed in the 21st Century as we still use tablets, laptops, and apps to deliver information to children. Any kind of application that gives kids information I call "consume" applications. There is a reason why iPads were developed for consumers and not creators. Now this doesn't mean that we can't use iPads to create but we as educators have to understand what specifically our app does for our children; in other words, do they "create" or do they "consume?"
Web 2.0 Tools (Consume or Create)
Search and Research Skills
Collaborative Lesson Plan
2. Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
a. Design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity
3. Model Digital Age Work and Learning
a. Demonstrate fluency in technology systems and the transfer of current knowledge to new technologies and situations
2. Digital age learning culture
a. Ensure instructional innovation focused on continuous improvement of digital-age learning
International Society for Technology in Education. (2007). Nets for students. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs/nets-s-
InTime. (2000). Lesson plan: Electing the president -hyperstudio. Retrieved from http://www.intime.uni.edu/video/034ksle/8/
Roy, P. (2008). Hyperstudio 5 review. Retrieved from http://www.mackiev.com/hyperstudio/reviews/nzmac.html