COETAIL, Course 4, Professional Development

Technology Integration = Challenging

Frustrated
I spent 3 years in South Carolina teaching French and trying my hardest to meaningfully integrate technology into my curriculum. Sometimes it worked really well. Other times, not so much. Sometimes lessons were redefined. Other times the tech was just a substitute. No matter the lesson, technology integration wasn’t the easy way out. It was frustrating, difficult and usually took more time. But the learning experiences that were created made all the hard work worth it.

146/365 square peg into a round hole
I’m now a Technology Integration Coach helping teachers meaningfully use technology in their classrooms. It’s actually been an even harder job. [Many] Teachers want the easy way out: they want me to hand them ready-made materials or ‘have an app for that.’ Technology integration needs to be more thoughtful than that and should be about choosing the best tool to fulfill lesson objectives. I see my job as continually challenging teachers to change the way they teach. As long as technology is seen as an extra, integration is not happening. Every single teacher in the entire world should read What is Technology Integration? (or “What Technology Integration is NOT”). That might sound a bit dramatic but this is pure gold:

I strongly believe that SAMR, TPACK and the TIM should be used together in order to guide teachers and leadership on effective technology integration. We have started slowly introducing SAMR to our staff and have created a resource page for teachers to access. One thing I like to stress to our teachers is that SAMR isn’t a hierarchy and not all of their lessons are going to be redefinition. My long term goals would include introducing TPACK and TIM to our staff as well.

Integration is an instructional choice that generally includes collaboration and deliberate planning – and always requires a classroom teacher’s participation. It cannot be legislated through curriculum guides no will it happen spontaneously. Someone with a vision – an administrator, a teacher, or a specialist – needs to model, encourage, and enable integration, but only a classroom teacher can integrate technology with content-area teaching.

Although I’ve learned about TPACK, I hadn’t read Mishra and Koehler’s article. These guys are cool. My two biggest takeaways that could benefit all educators:

  • “We would argue that almost everything that is artificial … is technology, whether low tech or high tech.”
  • Repurposing these cool tools for educational purposes, however, is not simple. If educators are to repurpose tools and integrate them into their teaching, they require a specific kind of knowledge.”

Technology is all around us and we need to be working hard and working smart in order to choose the best tool for the job. Technology isn’t a fad…it’s been around for centuries. But we, as educators, are continually being challenged to purposefully and meaningfully help our students learn with technology. Technology can most definitely make our job harder…but can’t it also make it better?

iOS, Kuwait, Professional Development

A Reflection on Tech Integration – SAMR

I’ve been struggling a lot lately with this whole technology integration initiative that is sweeping the world. Yesterday Jeff and I went into a 1st grade classroom to help them create word-webs and stories using their iPads. It didn’t go as smoothly as one would hope and by the end we were wondering if the technology made the project better.

This morning we were truly challenged as Technology Coaches – two elementary teachers are starting their final project for COETAIL and need to integrate technology into a unit plan. Unlike many teachers that we come into contact with they know about SAMR and want to attain the Redefinition level.
This is what our job is supposed to be…right? Integrating technology in a way that redefines education? I honestly can’t say we’ve done a ton of that this year. I often wonder how many technology coaches (or whatever you’d like to call us) are truly helping teachers CHANGE education through the use of technology. I’m not naive enough to think that it can happen for every task that a student completes…but how about once a unit? Once a month? I’d take once a year! So many people (me included) are quick to make suggestions for integrating technology (in our case iPads) – make movies, use Explain Everything, write blogs, etc. How often do we stop to think…and ask ourselves “Is technology making my lessons better?” and “Where am I on the continuum?” I’ve sat around tables with teachers who truly believe that they are redefining & transforming education when they are simply at the substitution stage. I am just as guilty of this too! There are thousands of education blogs out there boasting about the latest and greatest way technology is “changing” their classroom. But is it really?

So where do we (me, my school, you, your school, educators around the world) go with this? How do we ensure that technology isn’t just a band-aid? I’ve had this discussion with Jeff countless times. But how do we have this discussion with other teachers without stepping on toes and hurting feelings? We haven’t introduced the SAMR or TPACK models to staff yet because we think they’d be a little overwhelmed (have you read Nicholas Provenzano‘s rant?). We are also in limbo waiting to hear what our iPad initiative will look like next year. Do we introduce these models? If so, when?

Quality technology integration isn’t easy. It’s takes time, patience and lots of brain power. It takes CHANGING the way we teach. Are we ready for that?

Get started redefining…
Exploring the SAMR model (ECISD Technology)
Brief Intro to TPCK & SAMR (Dr. Ruben Puentedura)
Technology in Education: A Brief Video Intro (Dr. Ruben Puentedura)
More on SAMR (Dr. Ruben Puentedura)
Elementary example of SAMR
TPACK
TPACK Explained

This is in no way a complete list…please feel free to share more!