I’ve come to realize through my work with my tech integrators team that, in another era, I might be looked at as a creative eccentric. I have great innovative ideas that come flooding in (often all at the same time) and energy to put them to use- but little in the way of a framework to tuck them into. This has been ok up to now because I also have the uncanny ability to fly by the seat of my pants using this creativity and a calendar. I can manage a week’s worth of integration with no problem (ok, truthfully, I miss an appointment now and then)- but I realized this week that all of my work is disconnected.
Huh? What does that mean? It means that for me there has been no “bigger picture” of integration. I have been very successful at working with individual needs in the classrooms, but in order to move forward with our creation of 21st century learners and teachers I have to look more at creating a more comprehensive plan.
I don’t think this is very unusual. As integrators we are continually changing directions and are often stretched thin. A little ADD comes in handy as we have to switch focus early and often. We do a lot of “just in time” problem solving. Nothing wrong with that, but while we are dancing sideways we are not necessarily moving forwards.
Teachers need 21st century skills, and often they feel as though they lag behind those of their students. These skills include creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, and communication and collaboration. The trainings and classroom learning opportunities we provide as integrators have to be attached to these skills- but how do we know where to start?
We do it the same way we did it as teachers- by figuring out first and foremost what we want our students to know as a result of the training. I’d break it out this way:
Creativity and Innovation:
- Teachers are aware of the variety of ways that students can “show what they know” and are comfortable allowing students to explore the use of different tools to produce original content.
- Teachers understand how to assess content, not creation skills, when using technology
- Teachers learn new ways to use content, using digital tools to enhance understanding through use of video, digital text, and audio resources.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
- Teachers learn to use digital resources in problem based learning
- Teachers use digital tools to create community based learning opportunities
Communication and Collaboration
- Teachers use technology to improve communication with both students and the larger school community.
- Teachers make connections both inside the school and outside of the school to expand learning opportunities
From here we are at a crossroads, and it’s a place where it is very tempting to get off track. Lets face it: as integrators we are geeks. We love the tools and get a bit of a rush from the problem solving process. It’s here that we get in trouble, because we automatically start thinking about tools to use for each of these areas of need. We set up trainings around using iMovie, GoogleDocs and Keynote.
What we really need to be doing is teaching pedagogy. It’s not being able to set up a blog- it’s knowing what skills your students need in order to be able to blog effectively AND knowing how to asses it. It’s about understanding visual literacy. It’s about understanding how to evaluate where a tool can push a student towards a higher taxonomy level depending on its use.
Next week’s post: Just how do I do this?