How Do I KNOW?

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The title of this blog post is a reaction to a very interesting and motivating chat I was part of this morning.  I drag my butt out of bed every Saturday morning before 7:30, throw some coffee on and join #leadupchat because I am so inspired by the conversation and the people who gather there.

This morning was an open chat-kind of like the chat version of edcamp.  The educators in the chat throw out the questions and the conversation goes off in many different directions. This question caught my eye:

“What new initiative are you most excited about at your school this year?”

Yesterday our school had the first of a few teacher-directed professional development sessions we will have this year.  This is the first time our school district has helped make this happen.  In my mind, it is still not quite where I would want it to be, but I also feel like this is a very innovative first step and I appreciate the opportunity.

In preparation for this day, I had all kinds of thoughts ranging from being very excited, to worrying about whether or not teachers would be engaged in learning that would, in turn, have a positive effect on our students. I knew I would also have to engage in my own learning right along with them.

To get back to the question from the chat, I answered with “teacher-directed professional development” because of the positive conversation and feedback I heard from our teachers.  It seemed to me the level of engagement was high, conversations were, in fact, highly directed toward, innovative teaching that I know will make a difference in our student’s learning.  Teachers were engaged because they were given choice and were allowed to connect to their own goals and take conversations in directions that were important to them.  What more could a school administrator want?

One response given to my reply seemed negative about the idea of teacher control and questioned me about how I would KNOW (for sure, I am guessing, by the upper case letters) that they were working on their goals.

I couldn’t help but be a little insulted because I do have a high level of trust in my teachers, but I am also not an administrator that spends all my time in my office, not paying attention to what is going on around me.

I couldn’t help but bring it back to this short conversation the characteristics of innovative leaders from the book Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros.

  1.  Models Learning: I also had to choose my professional development focus for the day and chose to spend it with my middle year’s teachers learning about guided math.  I don’t teach math, but I feel it is my job as a principal to be able to support the work of all the teachers in my school.  I feel like I was “elbows deep” in the learning in my school.
  2. Open Risk-Taker– Our teachers all know the expectation is there for them to be taking risks especially in the area of using our abundant technology in ways that help our students collaborate and create in the real world.  They know risk-taking is not just accepted it is expected.  I know to expect this from our teachers and not model it myself would be much less effective.
  3. Networked– Interesting that this entire post was motivated by one of my learning networks.  I have a few PLN’s both online and not, which I rely heavily upon for support, ideas, and encouragement. I cannot imagine doing what I do without them.
  4. Observant– One of the ways I KNOW that my teachers are continually growing and working hard to improve learning for our students is by being observant. Being out of the office and on the ground level of the classroom.
  5. Team Builder– Trust is a huge part of building a team.  I  know we have hired excellent teachers, so I need to step back and trust them to do what they know best.  We need to allow for growth in our teachers and know that growth will continue to have a positive effect on our students.

I could go on about the characteristics, but I would rather end with one of my brightest moments from our first teacher-directed PD day.  Two of our young teachers spent the morning learning about becoming a Microsoft Innovation Educators.  When I asked them, how their morning was, they were over the top with excitement and enthusiasm telling me about all of the things they had learned and discovered.  They replied, “we have to share this, can we please show everyone this at our next staff meeting?”

What more can an innovative leader ask for?

Bold or Old?

 

This week I am preparing for a job interview and have spent a lot of time in the last few weeks reflecting on my school, my staff and the things that have been accomplished in the short time I have been in the building.  I am not saying that I have accomplished these things, because that is definitely not the case.  These things have been accomplished by a team of very dedicated and forward thinking people.  Wow am I ever lucky!

I spent part of my Easter break doing some web surfing and reading and trying to reconnect with my passion for technology in education.  There really is nothing that I like to focus on more than that.  I was reading some posts on Will Richardson’s site and I came across an older post of his about bold schools and old schools.  It got me thinking about what we are trying to create here.  When I reflect back to the progress we have made in the past few years I am certain that what we have here is a bold school.  He lists 9 qualities shared by what he is terming “a bold school”.  The qualities range from learning centered to provocative.  Check out the post for the complete list.

Looking back over the three years that I have been lucky enough to be working in this school with this staff we have made much progress on becoming a bold school.  We have slowly but surely embraced technology and different teaching methods that are more authentic to the learners we are working with today.  We have survived a lot of change and struggled to make sense of new curricular outcomes and new assessment strategies.  We have stepped up and committed to action research projects that have helped us move toward embracing technology use in our classrooms in many forms and we have tried to step back and turn more of the learning happening in our classrooms over to the students.

Our next goal is to move toward project based learning, which seems the next logical step in our progression.  We are looking at our curricular outcomes and where the commonalities might lie, but right now we have many questions…

  •   How can we timetable to accommodate project based learning?
  •   How can we support each other on our continued journey from familiar to unfamiliar territory?
  •   How can we prepare and engage our students to meet the needs of the changing world they are a huge part of?
  • How can we engage our reluctant students?

Any suggestions as to how to keep moving on our journey from old to bold? 

 We are definitely bold baby and we are not going back!

Finished and Reflecting

I have had a few exciting things happen lately and I am not sure where to start.  First and foremost, I am finished my Master’s Degree.  I can’t decide how I should feel about it.  Should I be so relieved that I am jumping up and down, should I be proud of such a big accomplishment or should I be feeling sad that my journey is over.  For right now I am feeling a combination of the three.  I had no idea that it would change my philosophy of teaching as much as it has or turn me into such a reflective practitioner. I can’t wait to see what is next.  I even find myself thinking that I could take a second Master’s Degree…Whoa now! Slow down!

The second exciting thing I want to talk about is the opportunity I had to attend the Saskatchewan IT Conference in Saskatoon this week.  I consider myself very lucky to get to attend and I came home with that familiar feeling of passion and excitement.  As I listened to Michael Wesch speak of opening up worlds to our students, posing questions, allowing and challenging them to be creative and do something about the things that are going on in the world, I couldn’t help but reflect back on my school year.  Have I really allowed my students to be in control of their own learning?  Have I challenged them with questions that take them beyond Google?  Have I opened my staff up to new thinking and supported them in ways that would allow them to change their traditional ideas about education?

I am not sure where this year has gone, but as it draws to a close, I hope I can feel confident that I have accomplished at least some of what I wanted to this year and look forward to handing more over to my students and my staff next year and taking my spot behind the stage and not on it.

Have I had an “ah ha” moment?

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I don’t  know how many times I have posted my frustrations this year about my inability to motivate and encourage my staff to try to integrate more technology into the classrooms in this school.  I have tried a few things, but it took a presentation at a staff meeting that ended with feelings of frustration and anger to make me realize I had to change my techniques.  One of the things I have learned this year as a new administrator, and trust me there have been many, is that my passions are not necessarily other people’s passions. I needed to back up the bulldozer and realize that everyone is not in the same place and I need to respect that.

On the other hand I have had monumental success in the area lately! I decided to apply for a school division technology grant (TIP) this year and sent out an e-mail to see if anyone would be interested in joining me.  What was in it for them was a new Flip Video camera and digital still camera for each of their classrooms, the possibility of learning some new things about assessment in math, and some release time to do it.  I had 4 teachers jump on board and we had a great time.

http://www.edupics.com/en-

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Our questions were:

1.  Could we improve student engagement in math by using the cameras?

2.  Could we increase opportunities for teacher assessment through using the cameras?

3.  Could we increase opportunities for student assessment through using the cameras?

The answer was yes, yes and yes!

We had a lot of fun doing the project and we learned a lot.  It had the exact effect on everyone that I wanted and had a few extra effects that I  was hoping would happen and some that I did not anticipate…

  • Other staff in the school were  wishing they would have jumped on board when they saw what we were doing
  • We had the opportunity to share our learning with division staff
  • Another teacher in the school wants to add some more technology into her teaching and has met with me and spent a half a day with the technology consultant discussing possible ways to do that
  • One of the teachers that participated in the action research wants to present our learning at convention in the fall and has taken responsibility for that
  • Three other teachers have agreed to jump on board with another action research grant project I have successfully applied to do in the fall

Wow! What else can I say!  Look what happened when I stopped talking and started walking!

Master teacher or master learner?

I pondered what direction to take my on-line PD for ECI 831.  I had already done one post a few weeks ago after watching a presentation on media literacy by Michael Wesch and was looking for a different direction.

Earlier this week I was involved in a few conversations about the new RTI, Response to Intervention model that our school division is moving to in an effort to support diverse learners.  Every school in our division will have a RTI teacher next year that is not assigned classroom time.  The whole idea behind this teacher will be to provide support to classroom teachers and students in the areas of curriculum, differentiated instruction and program planning for diverse learners.  Part of the discussion behind this movement was the type of teacher that would best fill these positions.It was brought up that these teachers should be “master” teachers.  What is a ‘master’ teacher exactly?  The first thing that popped into my mind, and I am sure many others, was someone with curriculum experience, classroom management experience and probably  a vast bag of tricks.

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Interestingly enough, I came across a blog post at the Technology Fridge related to the idea of ‘master’ teachers. It presented a slightly different view.  “You cannot be a master teacher, until you are a master learner.”  Well now, that changes things, doesn’t it? Could a ‘master’ teacher be a teacher who may not know everything, but has a desire to learn?

I am a strong believer in life long learning and I give the credit  to my father.  He is an avid reader and researcher in his own right.  I often share things with him as he does with me.  He may not understand my world, but he has a desire to know about it.

Now, could we not learn from my father and relate that to  our own classrooms, with our own students?  We may not totally understand their world, but we should have a desire to know about it and be open to it.  Should we be open to the idea that our students may have as much or more to teach us as we do to teach them?

I just finished watching a short presentation given by Anglea Maiers, at the K12 Online Conference, on the topic of passion.  I thought she added to this idea even more.  She retells a story about a very endearing little kindergarten student that was passionate about animal rights.  The point of her presentation was for educators to learn how to follow our students passions. If we use student interests, hold them to high standards and expose them to web 2.0 tools we should be able to turn interests into passions.   It is possible to learn from our students by give them opportunities to lead with their interests and turn those interests into passions.

It is difficult for educators to change the way we look at information delivery.  I think we are held back by the idea that our students might know more than we do.  Since we are so used to being the expert in the room, the idea that the student may be the expert, and we could learn from them, is unusual and sometimes even scary. According to George Siemens, “instead of controlling a classroom, a techer now influences and shapes a network.” We don’t teach subjects, we teach students.

I also watched another K12 Online Conference presentation this morning given by Paul Curtis, a high school teacher who teaches at the New Technology High School in Napa, California. His presentation was on building a culture that empowers students.  This culture is based on trust, respect and individualized learning.  He talked a lot about co-constructing rules for fair use and how we need to let go of the idea that we need to control students.  He even went so far as to put out the idea that students can learn the curriculum on their own.  We need to create a culture by empowerment and hold students to the culture of the community that they helped to create.

Will Richarson at Weblogg-ed, blogs about the same topic and he states, “More and more, though, as I look at my own kids and try to make sense what’s going to make them successful, I care less and less about a particular teacher’s content expertise and more about whether that person is a master learner, one from whom Tess or Tucker can get the skills and literacies to make sense of learning in every context, new and old. What I want are master learners, not master teachers, learners who see my kids as their apprentices for learning.”

I feel like I am jumping a bit all over the place with this post, but everything is so interrelated, it is difficult to separate.  The bottom line seems to be…we need to teach kids how to learn, and we can only do that by being learners ourselves.

Is playing games a waste of time?

It seems like every week I get fixated on some topic and it seems to pop up everywhere.  This week it was games.  It started on Tuesday when our staff was having a math lunch.  We try and meet once every month or two and watch some of the Math Makes Sense Video series and have math related discussions.  This week our discussion centered around the role of games in math and the games that were available at the back of the Math Makes Sense Pro Guide.  Teachers would like to use them, see value in using them, but were lacking the time to make them.  We came up with a couple of possible solutions for that problem…but my thinking stayed with the topic of games.

In our division our filtering system tags anything to do with games and gaming and blocks it from our use.  I have been frustrated by this the odd time when I am trying to find a quick little game that might add to the program of one of my learning support students.  There is always the constant debate about whether playing games at school is valuable use of time.  I guess it depends on how you define game playing and what skills you think children can get out of playing games.

I was reading a paper on digital learning and media this week published by Henry Jenkins, the director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and others.  It is called, “Confronting Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century”.  The paper described what they thought were the 11 skills one needed to have to participate within the new media culture, a “participatory culture”, they called it.  It was aimed at education and gave many valuable ideas about projects and activities that fit with each skill area.  One of the core media literacy skills discussed was play.

I really never thought of play being a media literacy skill.  It has long been proven that play is important for children and it helps them figure out their bodies, worlds, social systems, etc.  My idea of  play seems to start with playing house or playing cars, not really playing video games.  Can children learn valuable skills from playing video games?

One of the reasons that children learn from play is because games set them up  to take risks and role play in situations that do not have real life consequences.  They can take chances and still turn around and fix their mistakes or they have the option to start over.  I think one could still argue whether that was good or bad.  Could this teach children to ignore real life consequences? What happens when there is no starting over?

I am not a fan of video games, mainly because I am not very good at them and sometimes I cannot tolerate the movement within the game due  to motion sickness. I have trouble watching my son play when he wants to show me something he thinks is sweet.   I do observe lots of gaming going on in my household though… from afar.   The author of this paper would argue, “Games follow something akin to the scientific process.  Player are asked to make their own discoveries and then apply what they learn to new contexts.  No sooner does a player enter a game than he or she begins by identifying core conditions and looking for problems that must be addressed.” If this is the case, then maybe video games do play a valuable role.

According to Don Tapscott ,in his book, “Grown-up digital”, I am slugging through right now,  ” A recent nationwide survey of 2500 U.S. business professionals  searched for differences between those who grew up playing video games and those who did not.  Professionals who grew up playing video games were more serious about achievement, more loyal to their company and their coworkers, more flexible and persistent problem-solvers, and more willing to take on the risks that make sense…net geners have a desire to win collaboratively…” (p. 171)  Once again, it would seem that these would be worthwhile skills for children to learn.

He goes on to say, “To be a guild master in a game like World of  Warcraft, you need to be able to create a vision, find recruits and give them a platform on which to learn, and orchestrate the groups strategy.  To me [Don Tapscott], it sounds a lot like the skills a corporate executive needs, doesn’t it?” To me it sounded a lot like what a teacher must do every day.  We need to create a plan as to what learning outcomes we are targeting, get the students involved, decide what strategies we are going to use and pull it all together.  These sound like skills that could be related to a number of different situations. Come to think of it…perhaps I should of played more video games!

Well, if you look at it like that, it does seem that game playing in school might be valuable.  Now, I am not saying we should plug them in and let them play video games all day, even though some of them would be pretty keen on that.  I just wonder if we are losing some of the value  to be gained from finding a place for games in education such as  the engagement factor, the need for  collaboration and the thinking involved in some gaming situations.  As a learning support teacher, I can’t argue the engagement level of my students goes up when I say we are going to grab a laptop and add to our learning by playing a little game.  Even drill and practice games can be valuable and engaging to students.

The funny thing is… that was not the last thing about games that came my way this week.  When visiting an interesting blog site called PrincipalsPage. Very funny writer!  I linked to a video on the importance of play for adults.  Now I know that I am jumbling together a bunch of  different, unrelated ideas about play. I have jumped  from childhood play, to math games ,to video games and adult play, but I guess my point is…play is important-and should not automatically be dismissed as a waste of time or a dangerous activity .  Even video games in some format can play a role in the school day.

Of course I see the importance of all kinds of play, in school and out.  Just like everything else in school, it has to be done with purpose and reason.

Catch you on the playing field!

Can we make learning authentic?

I seem to be talking about technology no matter where I go these days.  Last night I was lucky enough to get an invitation to the Farmer’s Appreciation Night sponsored by the Estevan Board of Commerce and Tourism.  It was an excellent roast beef supper followed by a speaker and ending with entertainment by a comedian.   I sat and listened to the presenter speak about world trends in agriculture and the rapid technological  changes happening in  the industry because of the influence of young people with digital expectations coming back to agriculture  and the necessity of the agricultural industry to keep up.  The speaker started out with giving everyone his cell phone number, so that we could text him with questions that he would answer during the presentation.  There were no laptops in the room-of course and this was the next best alternative. Among other things,  he described a system that was being developed using digital tracking  to allow consumers to trace the origin of fruits and vegetables back to the actual farm where they were produced.  The farmer then will provide information about pesticide and herbicide use in production.

So what does all of this have to do with technology in schools?

As I listened to the presentation, I was struck, once again, with the reality that  we are not doing a very good job of preparing our students for their future world.  There is not a part of their world that is not be affected by technology, and yet the education system is lagging behind and we are not meeting the needs of this generation of learners.

I am reading the book, “Grown up digital” by Don TapscottProbably many of you have read it.  It is very interesting and paint a picture of what he refers to as the “net generation”.  In the chapter dedicated to “the net generation as learners”, Mr. Tapscott says the following:

“Net Geners are not content to sit quietly and listen to a teacher lecture.  Kids who have grown up digital expect to talk back, to have a conversation.  They want a choice in their education, in terms of what they learn, when they learn it, where, and how.  They want their education to be relevant to the real world, the one they live in.  They want it to be interesting, even fun.  Educators may still think the old fashioned lecture is important, but the kids don’t, futurist Marc Prensky told me recently.  He remembers one Australian principal who put it this way: ‘The teachers are no longer the fountain of knowledge: the Internet is.'” (p. 126)

So what is holding us back?  When my professor for ECI 832, Marnie McMillan posed the following question… I had to try and consider this carefully.

How could schools implement computer-supported learning in ways that authentically transform teaching and learning?

The problem is not technology.  I think most schools have access to technology, but putting computers and internet access into schools does not mean that authentic learning is taking place.  I found an interesting blog post at coolcatteacher that was aimed at administrators, called Dear Administrator: Focus. The tone, unless I misunderstood it, was one of frustration based on lack of action by administrators  and she seemed unwilling to take any excuses.  I have to agree with her… no excuses should be accepted.  The blog post gives 8 practical and to the point, considerations for administrators of school districts/divisions and schools to use to help make technology use and learning more authentic in our schools. I would like to comment on 3 of them.

1.  Strong technical leadership– this is where the problem begins, I think.  It does not really matter whether we feel we are technologically challenged or gifted, we have a responsibility to be leaders in our schools and promote and demand authenticity in our classrooms.  I strongly believe that the administration in a school sets the tone for the school.  My experience has been that what the administrators see as a priority, becomes a priority and the attitude of the administration in a school affects the attitude within the school. I also agree with coolcat when she states, ” It is often not how the technology works as much as how people feel about how the technology works.”  Administrators, and I include myself in this, need to step up and start showing leadership in this area if we want things to change.

2.  Benefiting the student– that is what is supposed to be all about, right?  It is important for students to stay the focus at all times.  What would benefit the students in my school?  I often get frustrated by school division policies that prevent me from doing what I feel are logical things with my students that would benefit learning.  Using I-pods would be a good example of this.  We can’t use them in our school and students or teachers, for that matter,  cannot get on to WiFi with their own personal devices.  I understand the need for caution, but I hate some of the things we do out of control. Most of my students have this excellent learning tool in their pockets, but we are cut off from using it because of fear.   “Don’t let IT rule just because they are using terms you don’t know.  IT should not have complete control over the sites used on campus – that is often better decided by curriculum.” Coolcat is right… we should not be intimidated by outside forces, when it comes to deciding what is right for our students in our school.

3.  Harness the power of those you have. How true again!  We have lots of talent right around us, but we don’t often take advantage of it.  Having conversations with people, taking advantage of their talents and letting them shine in areas where they have never had the opportunity to before is paramount to change.  Setting teachers up in situations using technology in authentic ways and allowing them to be successful, breeds confidence and that confidence is shared with other teachers.

All this led me back to the National Education Technology Standards (NETS) under the adminstrator and visionary leadership.  This is the one area that I did not feel we did a very good job of in our school.   Perhaps this is where the problem starts and we need to get working on our visionary leadership.  This in turn will have an affect on teachers and students.

  • inspire and facilitate a shared vision of purposeful change
  • engage in an on-going process to develop, implement and communicate technology-infused strategic plans
  • advocate on a local and provincial level for funding to support implementation

I can get frustrated by the fact that we seem stuck where we are and can’t seem to make the jump to using all the technology we have available to us for authentic learning and teaching experiences.  I think that it is the responsibility of administrators, at all levels, to have a plan and make this happen.  When I say all administrators, I guess that also means me- I need to start advocating for my own sandbox and sharing it with others so that we can start playing together to benefit students.

Can we rewrite the educational song?

When I finished reading,  The Song Remains the Same: Looking Back to the Future of Educational Technology by Punya Mishra, Matthew J Koehler, Kristen Kereluik. TechTrends. Washington: Sep/Oct 2009. Vol. 53, Iss. 5; p. 48, for an assignment for my ECI 832 class, I couldn’t help but think  this was a conversation we have all been in many times before.  Why are we making little progress with technology infusion in some of our classrooms and schools?  Why do some teachers seem reluctant to use the fantastic tools and resources that are so readily available to us?

It really reminded me of Karl Fisch’s post at  The Fishbowl called ,”What if?” He provides a link to a google video by the same name that is worth taking a look at.

Although the article presented a concern that has been discussed for a while, it gave me a new direction of thinking as to the reason why.  “the power and potential of educational technology must be acknowledged to reside within educators and not within objects.” (p.52)  I couldn’t help but think that our focus my be in the wrong place.

We have this same discussion often in our school division related to new curriculum.  I have heard frustrations voiced many times as to how teachers continue to start their planning with classroom activities, rather than “unpacking” the learning outcomes and starting there.  It is impossible to see the journey, when we start from the end and work backwards.  What do we want these children to be able to do when the journey ends, rather than… here are some things to work on and hopefully while you are doing that we will stumble on some learning.

The last conversation I with my principal, on Friday, happened to be about the lack of technology use in our classrooms and why that might be.  She thinks it is a good idea when I take these courses, but it does add an extra element to her day when I am constantly wanting to share my thoughts and infuse my ideas.  The one thing we said was that our teachers are separating the parts of the whole learning experience,  rather than looking at it as a whole.  What I mean by that is, we look at curricular outcomes separate from indicators, separate from technology, separate from classroom management etc., rather than seeing that they should all work together in the classroom experience and not be seen as separate entities.

I feel this relates to the statement in the article, “…educational technologies exist in the interplay between pedagogical knowledge, content knowledge, and technology knowledge.”  Maybe this is part of our struggle…as long as things exist as separate parts, it is impossible for us to move toward an interplay of the whole learning experience.

The article describes 3 possible reasons for our lack of change. The first one being “using new technologies…requires specific knowledge of how the technology can be used for pedagogical purposes.”   I feel most teachers see the basic benefits to embracing educational technologies and may also have an underlying desire to be integrating them into the daily learning experiences in their classrooms.  I don’t think any teacher can deny the fact that our students today are technologically inclined and comfortable in their world.  In my school division and certainly within my school the problem does not lie with technologies being unavailable to teachers. For some, the idea of technologies changing so fast is overwhelming and creates a sense of defeat before integration even gets started.  The idea of learning so many new things is discouraging.

The second reason given in the article states, “the use of new technology often faces resistance from educators who believe that they perhaps do more harm than good.” The thing that immediately came to mind was the “dreaded” cell phone that I discussed in my last post.  It seems to me that we can get so caught up in all the things that students could possibly do wrong, that we forget or refuse to see the benefits.  I have previously stated my frustration about our need to police students, rather than create opportunities for learning.  If you do a search at YouTube, under cell phone use in the classroom, you will come up with countless parodies made by students showing teachers freaking out over cell phone use. The phone is only one example, but it illustrates how our fear can be our worst enemy.

The third reason does not really have anything to do with technology. “Teachers need knowledge of pedagogy-knowledge of how to teach-in order to accomplish these kind of activities.” So does that mean that our problem does not lie with the technologies surrounding us, but rather our insecurities with our basic pedagogy?

I was reading a post written by Brian Gatin yesterday and he mentioned the need for universities to change the expectations for teacher training.  The authors of the article also mention the need for pre-service teachers to not just see technology as a tool, but rather be empowered to experiment and create as they develop their own pedagogy.  We tend to think  younger teachers will be naturally good at technology infusion. While it may be fair to jump to the conclusion that these young teachers are comfortable using technology, is it also fair to take for granted that they will understand the interplay between content, pedagogy and technology?

This is where team work should come into play.  We need to learn to share and collaborate.  The article mentions, “once a project has been developed, other teachers can replicate it in their own classrooms.”  That is as it should be, especially when we have all the collaboration and sharing tools available to us.  I don’t think teachers are natural sharers, we can be hoarders. We need to stop trying to reinvent things in our own little worlds.  Let’s use the confidence level with technology that our students and younger colleagues have and combine that with the confidence  in pedagogy and content that comes from experience.

In seeing the interplay between pedagogy, technology and content can we help each other rewrite the educational song? I sure hope so!

What are my current coordinates?

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In my ECI 832 course we were asked to pin point our current coordinates on our technology compass.  It is difficult, but important, to face exactly where we are when it comes to technology.  It can be impossible to move forward if we do not know where we are starting and  this can cause us to spin around in the same place.  If there is one thing that I am learning about technology integration, it would have to be that the journey is slow for some.

When looking at the LoTi, Levels of Teacher Innovation Framework  by Dr. Chris Moersch, I seem to be hovering between level 3-infusion and level 4a-mechanical integration.  Now what does that really mean for me?

I feel like I am very focused on higher level thinking for my students and getting them engaged in learning.  Partly due to the new curriculum which is based upon student centered learning and partly due to my basic belief in the necessity for change and the enthusiasm to make that happen.

At the same time, I still don’t think that students are recognizing or perceiving that their learning is authentic in a lot of cases.  They still believe that they are just doing assignments and not really making connections to their lives or taking responsibility for their own learning.  My students are using digital resources and tools to carry out teacher directed tasks that  require higher level thinking, but these tasks are rarely driven by or generated by students.  Hopefully we are slowly moving toward integration of technology, but at this point we are not there yet.

I chose to look at the adminstration side of NETS-National Education Technology Standards to see where I stood as an administrator.  Right now I feel like I can have the most positive influence on my staff in my administrative role as opposed to my learning support role ,although the two do work closely together.

So how am I really doing?

I do not feel like I am doing  badly overall.  I would probably give myself a B- on a technology report card.  Trust me, there is always room for improvement.  My highest grade would be in excellence in professional practice.  I try not to just talk about technology, but actually get down and get involved with what I believe.  I think I try to stay on top of what is happening in technology and pass that on to my staff in a collaborative way.  Right now a group of a group of teachers in my school, including myself,  are participating in a TIP(Technology Integration Project). I put in a proposal to use FLIP video cameras and digital still cameras for assessment purposes in math. I am also blogging with groups of students and helping classroom teachers  with class blogs. I have some of my learning support students blogging and accessing internet resources as they work on their social skills and planning toward their futures. I try to act as a support system by getting involved in technology integration at the classroom level.

I think there is still room for improvement; personally, at the school level and at the division level.  We are not AT the stage where there is effective practice across the curriculum and although I encourage instructional innovation focused on continuous improvement, I do not feel like we have reached the point where we can ensure that this innovation is happening.  I am not even sure I know when that point might be.

In some cases, things seem to be out of our hands.  We do not always have control over who we are hiring to fill teaching positions ,so this makes it difficult to always recruit staff who are highly competent with technology.  We  do try to establish and maintain partnerships to support systemic improvement, but we are not always in control of all parts of the system.  Our division is going through a lot of growth, and the lack of trust that still exists, in some cases,  can work against systemic change .  I think that our school division does an excellent job of trying to maintain an up to date and solid infrastructure, but some division policies dealing with technology do not always promote it or make it easy to use.

It seems like every conversation that I am in lately leads me back to the same question…

How do we move on from here?

At least I have my baseline now and know where  I am already doing well and where I still need to improve.