Patty Papers

Separating Prime Cuts of Educational Technology from Common "Mystery Meat"

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How do we get there?

At Call For Data: Technologically Literate, Ken Pruitt posted three questions for his action research project:

1.  What are the 21st century skills we want our teachers to model?

2.  How can we provide consistent and relevant training to 200 teachers?

3.  Will adequate resources encourage teachers to integrate technology into their curriculum? 

 Here are my responses:

1. What are the 21st century skills we want our teachers to model?

If we want our students to take charge of their own learning, be open to new ideas, and be willing to experiment, then we need to model these skills ourselves! Teachers also need to model a certain amount of persistence or as I like to call it, “stick-with-it-ness”.

Jim Gates’s comment above is right on, a one-day workshop will not work, but I think that teachers as well as administrators need to realize this. It is not a one-day or even a one-year event. ) I participated in the Sustainable Classroom Grant ( http://pattyoflynn.edublogs.org/sustainable-classroom/ ) two years ago and am still learning and improving the ways in which I integrate interactive technology. I expect this to continue indefinitely because there is always something new to learn about technology. How exciting!

2. How can we provide consistent and relevant training to 200 teachers?

That’s a difficult task! Keeping it small works better in my experience, so for 200 I would definitely use a professional learning team model which would enable subgroups to find their own focus which is most relevant to their needs. Teachers will come in with different levels of technology experience and comfort levels, and we need to meet them where they are if it’s going to work. Teaching teachers is all that different than teaching kids. )

3. Will adequate resources encourage teachers to integrate technology into their curriculum?

The key to effective integration of technology is to focus on best practices and effective teaching strategies rather than on using “cool tools” for their own sake. The use of nonlinguistic representations is proven to increase student achievement, and my interactive whiteboard helps me use this strategy in my classroom. Effective formative assessment has been shown to increase student achievement, and my student response system helps me integrate this into every lesson. I use these technologies because they support good teaching, not just because they look cool (although they do).

A great starting point would be the book Classroom Instruction That Works by Marzano et al which focuses on using nine particular research-based strategies in the classroom. We spent a year reading and discussing this book during 2005-2006 as part of our SCG training and focused on how we could use our new technology to implement the strategies presented. This put our focus on good teaching rather than on the technology, which is exactly where it needed to be IMO.

Another thing to consider is release time to visit each other’s classrooms – I’ve learned more from getting into other classrooms and talking with teachers than I ever have from any professional training. When teachers see how others are using technology, it will get their wheels turning.

3 Responses to How do we get there?

  1. Pingback: T-Notes » Blog Archive » Infusing math with technology

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