Wednesday, October 27, 2010

National, State and Local Tech Plans

My apologies to all for not posting this when due. I thought we were posting on blackboard and I did that thinking that was all I needed. Sorry.

Technology is here to stay and we now have to figure out how to incorporate it into our teaching and learning practices. Nationally the plan is somewhat broad but addresses most of the needs. It is supposed to enrich curriculum not supplement and I do like the part where it should be accessible in and out of the classroom. It also wants to make sure ALL have access both in and out of the classroom. The state plan is similar. we also see that teachers are wanting more training on how to use technology in teaching, not just in classroom management. The district plan is also very similar and wants technology used in the classrooms. I think this is where our tech standards that are addressed on report cards comes from. So I was a little surprised to find out that my school's SIP does not mention technology and as far as I know, we do not have a separate tech plan.

I am in awe of technology, but also at times overwhelmed at the vastness of it. There is so much out there and at times I can't remember where I saw something or read something and have to search again....Sometimes I find it sometimes not. Thank goodness for search engines. I do hope that the "powers that be" at each level are talking to the other levels to try to help with the shift into the digital world.

I am forever a student.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

P as TL continued

The 12 descriptors of constructivist teachers, describes the teacher and not the content or process of teaching. When a teacher finds a resource that will help promote learning, I hope that is what will happen. I think technology can help the constructivist teacher, even sometimes the use of drill and practice. The 1st descriptor says the teacher encourages and accepts student initiative and autonomy. For some students, that choice will be for drill and practice until they feel confident enough to move beyond that, and I hope the teacher will be there to support and encourage that exploration or more drill and practice if that is what the student fells he needs. Technology can go very well with descriptor 2 as there is probably more current data online than can be found anywhere else, but students do need to be taught how to look for it. Descriptor 3 is not seen often enough in the classrooms, with or without technology. NCLB probably hinders this as more and more schools are teaching to the high stakes test, there is less time for "analyze, predict and create". These only happen in the last month of school when they have already taken "the TEST". Descriptors 4-9 deal with questioning and dialog with and among students. Technology can be woven in here with web quests, interactions between schools (e pals, collaborative projects, etc), and project based learning. Descriptor 10 is wait time, allowing a student time to think before answering. I am not sure how technology would tie in with this one, but I sure do hope teachers do this. In all my years that has been one comment I have gotten from observers, is that I have wonderful wait time. Descriptors 11 and 12 can fit well with technology if students are given exploration time but are also held accountable to present what they explored.

I really enjoyed reading Creighton's model tech-tech related professional learning and would love to be involved with this type of professional development. I think in some ways, through this class that is what we are doing. Our assignment to blog and respond to peers blogs are step one. Our vision and SWOT analysis is step 2 and then our one year Action/Evaluation plan would be step 3.

Trailblazers are the ones out in front of the pack and want to try new things. They tend not to shy away from change but rather embrace it. Resistors are those who are uncertain about the change but can be lead to believe or not, depends on who takes their hand and leads them (the trailblazer or the saboteur). The saboteur is one who does not like change and actually tries to stop it. They feel comfortable doing things the way they always have (it worked all these years so why change) and need convincing to try something new. Resistors and saboteurs are most likely to act at the beginning of change. It is best to include them from the planning stages. Many time it is these people that come up with the driving questions for the need for change. The process will be much smoother if you get them on board early.

In my school, I think in most of the classes, technology is wearing the saddle and we are riding it. However there are some occasions when that is not the case and a well thought out professional development plan that accommodates for all teachers, those that have experience with the technology to those that don't is what is needed. We as teachers have to differentiate our instruction, so professional development should also be differentiated as we do not all learn the same way and we do not all start at the same spot. Which leads to Ch.8 where we learn that the principal should both manage and lead technology programs just as he or she does with all other areas of leadership within the school. If the principal does this then he/she is making sure that the technology is connected to all other areas of instruction.

As far as leaders and implementing technology, we must make sure that all are involved and given an equal voice. Creighton spoke of in-groups and out-groups and how the planning of professional development must take all into consideration. Opportunities to practice,observe, coach and be coached must be built into the technology plan for any chance that it will be successful. Technological changes may lead to structural changes and the principal needs to be prepared for this so he or she can lead all the teachers through the changes.

My school would like to be a 90/90/90 school, that is 90% free or reduced lunch, 90% ethnic minority, and 90% meet or exceed state standards. SO we need an increase in scores on the CRCT in all subject areas. Technology could help in academic areas, and should be used more often for engaged learning than for drill and practice.  We do need quality professional development that addresses our needs as teachers of a very diverse population. We need to learn what we have and how to effectively use it before we consider more technology. Time for peer collaboration as well as peer observation and coaching would help many at our school. Every teacher has strengths and weaknesses. If we focus on the strengths and how we can share those with our colleagues, it will be a step in the right direction.

Friday, October 8, 2010

P as TL, Creighton Ch. 5-10

Creighton Chap 5 (questions 1-6) more to follow.
Technology related professional learning still seems to be mostly about learning how to use software but needs to move more towards how do we tie the use of technology to the standards that we are teaching. The systems approach to management however has achieved a little more. In Cobb County, we have PICASSO which has all the standards that we teach for all grade levels online and a broad instructional map for grade levels and subjects. Constructivist learning has probably had the greatest effect on technology as it lends itself to exploration.

Of the five concepts that Creighton presents for Constructivist learning, very few are tied to technology use.  Teachers may use concept one to work with drill and practice for skills before turning students loose to explore as stated in concept 3. Then you could apply concept 5 as teachers guide students to programs or sites on the internet to gather the information that goes beyond drill and practice (possibly project oriented). Of the concepts, I have ranked them based on how much I think they are used in my building. The rankings are from greatest use down.  5. The role of teacher as guide, problem and task presenter. followed by 3. Teachers approach instruction with 2 or 3 main ideas that are "explored" rather than "covered". Then followed by 1. The teacher helps students build a foundation of skills and knowledge but allow students to use their creative abilities to solve real world problems. Next would come 4. Social discourse- interaction with others and finally 2. Students and teachers collaborate on the means of instruction and content.
Pepi and Scheurman warn us not to continue to use technology as merely drill and practice, but to move toward institutional reform. But in doing this, don't ignore a more fundamental problem - teachers who really don't know how to teach.

Some of the weaknesses in technology integration through professional learning programs are - not having follow up workshops or presentations to clarify misunderstandings or reteach something difficult and using professional to review drill and practice software as well as finding drill and practice through the internet.