Friday, January 4, 2013

Integrating Technology in the Classrooms Requires Support

A colleague reminded me of a quote in a meeting today, and I remembered hearing it before.  I had read it in a blog and set about to find it online.  The quote from the blog’s title, posted by Megan Thienel reads in part:  School should not be a place where young people come to watch older people work.
It’s not much different than the way we viewed a classroom 5, 10 or even 20 years ago, however, the tools available have changed that landscape.   The technology available is expansive.  However, teachers are stretched already with their duties and responsibilities, and don’t always have the time to explore the technology tools available. 

Our goal as Technology Coaches for the Georgetown County School District has been to assist teachers by giving them tools to engage students to collaborate, communicate, take responsibility for and take charge of…their learning. 
We feel like we have helped to make a paradigm shift from “Show me a cool piece of technology to use in my class.”  To “Here’s what I’m doing now…let’s find some piece of technology we can use to enhance that lesson.”

There truly needs to be a plan for “sustained” professional development.  Our district and its leadership have taken the initiative by making Professional Learning Time a priority.  Each school in the District has a Curriculum Coach.  This Coach is an advocate for the teachers and for learning, and works to drive success.  There are District Level Coaches for all of the Common Core areas.  Training has been ramped up to make the Common Core transition smooth and effective.  Each month teachers from every school come together after school at the District Office for about an hour and a half of concentrated and meaningful professional sharing and learning.  There are also three District Technology Coaches provided…one for elementary, one for middle schools and one for high schools.  These Tech Coaches travel on a regular and rotating basis to each school to do model lessons, share tools, and assist with instructional planning using Web 2.0 Tools.

In an attempt to help teachers utilize Web 2.0 tools in the classrooms, here are some of the tools that we have shared so far in our roles as Technology Coaches: :  A discussion forum for students.  This is a very engaging activity for reading and writing. :  Intuitive Web Page design and publishing. :  an exciting way to “jazz” up Power Point presentations with video and audio. :  A program to grade multiple choice questions almost instantly by using your computer’s web Camera or doc Camera. :  An online live assessment tool for use with multiple devices. :  A tool for organizing web sites and resources in a fun and creative way. :  An online organizational and bookmarking tool with access from anywhere. :  A presentation Tool that gives a “flow” to any students project and research presentation. :  An online Avatar tool to make a creative presentation. :  A tool to organize web sites for classroom research that is smooth and saves time.

We are appreciative of the support from our Board, the Superintendent and the Instructional Department Directors.  I hope you can utilize some of the tools above in your classrooms to engage students…after all:  School should not be a place where young people come to watch older people work.” 

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