Tag Archives: Alabama

A Long Year and the Importance of Administrative Support

I wish I could say it doesn’t seem like a year since I last posted, but sadly it does. Where have I been?  You could say I have been learning the hard way just how important administrative support is to integrating technology into the classroom.

I began my new school year in 2013 totally pumped up from my Education Specialist classes and ready to implement new strategies. I was working on finishing up my research project on Internet Safety for Elementary Students and wanted to share those results. My enthusiasm was curbed in the first month of school with my new school principal and TOSA (teacher on special assignment).

The focus of instruction became focus on test scores. The driving force behind that was to read from the provided curriculum.  The more I tried to implement technology, the more specifically my hands were tied.  Teaching to the script would be the answer!  Technology was to be drill and practice with administrative provided sites. Creativity was out the window as we needed to practice for tests by using technology to make and give more tests.

It was the most miserable year of my life.

I fought relentlessly.

Long story short, I transferred schools. The first meeting with my new principal included a conversation on the importance of free play, and project based learning! Students must learn from mistakes and given opportunity for authentic learning!  A rise in test scores will come if students are motivated and engaged!

After a summer of renewing my own spirit, and presenting technology integration at various conferences throughout the state, I am now ready to teach again!

 

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Mentoring Teachers: A Solution?

There are actually several research articles that suggest mentoring is the best way to help teachers learn new technologies.  This makes sense.  Since teachers vary with their knowledge of computers and technology, holding Inservice trainings or workshops may leave some teachers bored or be too advanced for others.  By using a mentoring system, teachers can be trained one-on-one or in small groups.  Regular meetings and trainings would take place, so much more could be learned and retained than a one time professional development course.

One article I read about technology mentoring was Development of a Technology Mentor Survey Instrument: Understanding Student Mentor Benefits by Sonmez Pamuk and Ann D. Thompson.  They put a plan in action and found both mentors and mentees benefited from this type of technology exchange.  They also found that once teachers learned a new technology tool, they were quick to adapt it into their classroom curriculum.

I think this is a great idea! I think the biggest hurdle would be to get the support of administration.  Since Alabama is adopting the Common Core Curriculum, many hours professional development hours are spent training teachers on the Common Core. But if we really look at the Common Core Standards, we will see that the main goal is to prepare students for college and career in the 21st Century, and isn’t that the same goal as technology integration?

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Teachers and Technology Integration

Interesting research was conducted by Coleen Moore-Hayes at Cape Breton University (see link under articles).   She found that teachers with a positive self-efficacy about technology were more likely to integrate technology into the curriculum.  Teachers need more than access to technology. They need training on the technology itself.  That makes absolute sense to me.  I do consider myself rather tech savy, and I like to explore new websites that I can use with my students.  But before I even introduce the site to my students, I at least play around with the site to get a feel for it.  I do this way before I ever consider ways I could use it in the curriculum.  Most teachers in the survey wanted to learn more.   So if we agree that more technology is needed in our schools and that students should be using technology throughout their coursework, then the question is how do we get our teachers trained so their self-efficacy raises?  Simply putting technology in the classroom or in the hands of the teachers and students is not enough.  Even if the teacher’s job will change from leader to facilitator, they will still need training.  It only makes sense.

My school district went to 1:1 technology this year.  The teachers received training on implementing the publishers software.  Most teachers now feel comfortable having students read text online and watching the publishers short videos of weekly skills.  Is this truly integration?  I think not.  Do many teachers want to do more?  Absolutely.  But who is going to train them?  What kind of time is allowed for the training?  Those are just some of the questions that need to be answered as we move forward in this new age of learning.

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Chapter 8 How Schools Can Cope With the New Technologies

This chapter really struck a nerve with me.  Once again I find another author that is for technology in education proclaiming the downside to standardized testing.  I am so frustrated that this is the direction technology integration has taken.   The authors state that this emphasis on testing is totally against what technology integration should be……customization, interaction, and motivation.  This is totally taking away the creative uses for technology that students long for and will prepare students for the 21st Century.

This week, in my classroom, I am making a stand to do what I have been reading about to integrate technology.  I am walking away from the Pearson Bible of Teaching and teaching authentically and integrating some of the tools I have been researching.   I have four students who are performed below benchmark on the last standardized test, and they are pulled out of my classroom for a total of 4- 5 hours every week to be retested or given a practice test.  I am going to take a stand and have them stay with me, doing authentic learning.  I have spent all afternoon looking at the standards that need to be taught this week and thinking of how I can use technology, cooking, real world examples, etc. to make my classroom alive this week.

I am not sure if that is what this chapter is describing for education of the future.  But I do know that I don’t like the way my teaching of the present has been going this year, as I have been trying to follow rules based on getting the students to test well.   My kids deserve to learn in a fun, motivating way.  I have the tools.  I am going to apply them AND cover the standards. hmmmm imagine that.

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Filed under Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology Discussion

Chapter 7: What May Be Lost and What May Be Gained

Once again, I found the most awesome FREE site to summarize my findings on this chapter.  This one will let students create trading cards on a topic.

Even when not attending school, I spend a great deal of time online through my hobby of photography. I absolutely agree with the authors that technology can lead to less interactions with our real life friends and family as online we find people with similar interests.  Through discussions with my EdS peers, I can see the digital divide clearly.  While my school district has adopted a 1:1 initiative with technology, some geographically close districts still struggle with connectivity because they are so remote.  Other districts do not have the funds.

This chapter was full of questions. I think as Teacher Leaders, we need to think of those questions and how we will lead the educational system in the future.

Check out my link with my card!  Look to the right for a link to the site.

Chapter 7

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Chapter 6: The Three Eras of Education

Three main areas of US education are the apprenticeship era, the universal-schooling era, and now the life-long learning era. We can compare these three eras looking at these components”

  • Responsibility
  • Expectations
  • Content
  • Pedagogy
  • Assessment
  • Location
  • Culture
  • Relationships

Each of these components of education have changed as our society changed.  The question is not whether the components were bad or good for any era.   We are now entering the life-long learning era because society is changing and the world is becoming more connected through the Internet.  Schools will change because we cannot stop change. Society will demand it.  I think we are living in the exact moment of change, and I believe we have a choice to make. Do we want to sit by and watch?  or Do we want to have a voice and help lead?

 

 

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Two Articles For Alabama Technology Leaders

If you are from Alabama and at all interested in technology integration into our schools, there are two articles you must read.  Technology in Alabama Public Schools Report (2009) and IMPACT: Alabama Technology Plan 2007-2012.  Both of these articles can be accessed by the links on the right.

Technology in Alabama Public Schools Report summarizes data collected from surveys about the state of technology education in Alabama schools.  The authors concluded three major findings.

  • Both teachers and administrators report that they are not receiving the necessary digital literacy skills to prepare students for 21st Century work.
  • Parents want teachers to use technology tools to improve home-school connection, student achievement, and organizational skills.
  • Schools are not keeping pace with current technology that will be required for success in the 21st Century.

IMPACT: Alabama Technology Plan 2007-2012 takes that report and establishes 4 goals for the state.  Those goals are basically:

  • Technology integration and mastery of state standards
  • Expanding opportunities through technology
  • Technology professional development
  • Technology infrastructure

The plan not only states the goals but includes objectives, indicators, how data will be collected to measure the implementation of goals.  More importantly, strategies are included to help meet the goals.  The plan is meant to make recommendations and provided guidelines to help the Alabama education system meet the needs of 21st Century learners.  Technology plans written following these guidelines help support E-rated applications.

The good news is that Alabama is not in the dark.  I know I get discouraged and wonder why we don’t see or hear about more teachers and schools integrating technology like we know they should. But at least there is a plan.  We need to be familiar with the plan and use it to our advantage when looking for ways to gain support from administrators and teachers.  Yes Alabama we have a plan.

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