Saturday, March 19, 2011

Looking to the future

This morning I was reading the Edutopia article Five Reasons for Integrating Technology.  I was glad to have read it this morning before having a discussion this afternoon about the best way to move forward with our tech integration next year.  We discussed many things such as the need for a whole school vision for IT, whether we should be taking away a lab and using more laptops in the classrooms, requests for hardware and software for next year and how many teachers/coaches/mentors would be needed to move the programme forward.  It was great to have the time to discuss all these issues.

The Edutopia article raises a number of important questions but for me these 2 are the most important:  how will we train the teachers and where does the time for this come from.  Here's what the article says:
How ever will we train all those teachers? Answer: It's simple. Have teachers train teachers. Give teachers who know how the paid release time to be trainers. 
Where does the time come from? How can we add more to a teacher's plate? Answer: How 'bout this? Don't. Instead, take something off teachers' plates rather than put more on. We have to prioritize, and including technology is too important. We can't continue to have teachers waste their time on the curricular needs of yesteryear. We need to redefine how a teacher spends their time during the day and redefine the curriculum of tomorrow.
Photo Credit:  Signpost by Joanna McCunn 


  1. Maggie, I would love to hear you speak more on integrating technology, i.e. doing away with lab time and computer teachers in favor of technology happening in the classrooms (with a tech facilitator). We are moving to flexible scheduling and most likely will not have scheduled computer (class) times. You always speak so thoughtfully so I would be interested in your ideas about this.

  2. Hi Debra,
    I currently work on 2 campuses. On one I am completely flexible and teachers can book me to work with them in the lab or in their classrooms. On the other campus where I go one day each week we have fixed times for the 6 classes there, but everything is done in the classroom with laptops as there is no lab. I really like working in the classroom, however because I am only on that campus one day each week I don't have a flexible schedule there as I think all the teachers want to make use of me every time I go there.
    On the main campus we have 2 labs and several carts of laptops. Sometimes I would choose to do a lesson in the lab (which is wired and generally better to connect to the internet and I like using desktops when students are doing graphics), sometimes I would choose to use the laptops with small groups in the class, or sometimes with a whole class for example when we are taking photos or movies and transferring them straight into iMovie with the SD memory cards. We have iPod Touches and these are used exclusively in the classroom (and these sessions are led entirely by the teachers too).
    As we are using the SAMR model this year teachers are responsible for the S and A of the model. For example in one Grade 3 class the students were writing poetry using Word. I didn't support this at all - the teacher was perfectly capable of having the students do this by herself, printing them out and having the students make an anthology of their work. For other things - the M and the R of the SAMR model - I generally lead these lessons or give a lot of support to the teacher who is leading. Our model is basically that we co-plan, co-teach and co-assess. Another Grade 3 classes wanted to do the poetry in a different way: they took photos, wrote a poem about one of their photos and then wrote some music to go with the photo/poem and turned the whole thing into an Animoto movie - I led most of these sessions.
    I'm also responsible for developing the teachers' skills. At the moment I tend to suggest ways that IT can support what the teachers are already doing and often I suggest new ways the teachers can do things. For example today I was working in a classroom with one of our Grade 1 teachers. Last week he'd asked me how he could record what the students were doing in class and I'd shown him how to use QuickTime Player to record small performances his students were doing. He had all of these on his desktop and wanted to put them onto his blog. Therefore today I showed him how to import them into iMovie and send them to YouTube where they could then be embedded in his class blog. I showed him with the first movie and he watched, then I showed him again and he wrote down the steps. Then he followed his directions and did two himself with me there. Then I left him to it. By the end of the day he had added all the movies and he told me he'd done this without needing to use the instructions anymore. If the other Grade 1 teachers want to do the same thing he will be able to show them now. In this way I try to model the new skill and then gradually release responsibility so that the teachers are empowered to use the technology independently and support each other.
    If you have any more questions about this just let me know.