I have just spent two days working alongside my principal and other school teams from around Brisbane to come up with a plan for what might be next in terms of teaching and learning and our 1-1 initiatives at our schools. The aim of the two days were to:
- Evaluate the direction of 1-1 initiatives
- Look at what people can do to share evidence of success
- Connect with this network
We had the pleasure of working with Reuben Puentedura who facilitated a number of keynotes and workshop situations: http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/ Reuben’s primary area of focus is the SAMR model (his own creation) which is a model which supports teachers to build technology into their teaching and learning so that it is going to result in the greatest educational gain. It is also a model which gives leaders a guide as to how best support their teachers to use technology for the most effective purposes – purposes which are going to be potentially transformative in their educational outcomes.
Much of the focus of the two days was from this educational leaders’ perspective – how can we, as leaders, ensure that the investment in technology in our institutions has the best outcomes possible in terms of learning for our students? This was extremely useful to us as a school as we are poised at a point which, in my opinion, is quite crucial.
We were told to take it back to basics and to start for what our vision for learning is as a school. And this is where I come to my first point of action. What IS our vision for learning? This is something we discussed during the formation of our pedagogical framework. I saw this as crucially important and something that was missing. This is something to need to do and something that needs to have ‘buy in’ from staff and our community. If we are going to evaluate the effectiveness of our 1-1 program, or any program at our school, should it not be aligned with our vision for learning?
We were told that we should have a 20 second pitch for why we invest in educational technology.
For me, this is simple. And this should not merely be about preparing students for tomorrow’s world. It needs to be much broader and deeper than this. For me, it is because we have 28 individual faces in front of us and that they faces represent different experiences, different worlds and different learning tendencies. In catering for these different people technology allows us to do this. For the child who doesn’t like to speak in front of a crowd, technology can provide an avenue to allow them to present. For the child who needs extra assistance with reading, technology can provide this. For the child who has difficult with getting his/her own ideas across, technology can do this. Technology is something kids are engaged by and if we can use it and take something that is potentially distracting and wrap it around a learning context – why would we not do this? Technology also connects students to the curriculum in new and exciting ways and allows for creativity and self-expression.
So…..I have an elevator speech but do our staff? Do our parents?
2nd point of action – can our staff and can our parents articulate why we invest in educational technology?
SAMR and TPCK – models supporting effective use of educational technology
We were also supported in how to best support staff in moving along the SAMR ladder. In seeking to understand SAMR we also looked at the TPCK model and discussed how important the intersections are when thinking about how best to support teachers. We looked at the intersection of the strands and how they provide the most interest in terms of understanding how we have to support teachers. PC and TC and TP ARE important. To move teachers into redefinition, you need to be looking at the intersections and working on their skills and understandings. The point was made that if you wish to support teachers in doing what they have always done, do what you have done before. BUT if you wish to move them into the upper areas of SAMR – we need to look at doing two things.
1. Teachers need to be engaged in a community of practice – they need to be discussing with each other their work on an ongoing basis.
THIRD POINT OF ACTION: Action Research – our teachers need to be involved in this.
2. They need to have a personal learning network – beyond their immediate group. No teachers need to have the exact same PLN.
THIRD POINT OF ACTION: For those teachers who aren’t looking further afield, can our cluster provide this PLN as a beginning point? Speak to KH or look to create discussion groups that I administer.
There were other points made about SAMR. One is that it is great for newcomers to using technology and they should be ok with starting with the most basic of tasks. SAMR for these people can be a safety net. The move from S to A is quite easy as this is quite visible. But to move people from A to M, we have to build the capacity to infer. The gap between A and M is quite large. Working with staff on a SAMR ladder can take between 1-3 hours. PCK is the most important. When looking at SAMR – it does not need to be viewed as a ladder – for some however, this might be the way it is perceived until they don’t need the safety net.
Another discussion was about schools with priorities that are crowding the agenda – more and more priorities appearing and needing to be dealt with and technology can appear to be yet another one. We talked about how technology should NOT be seen as a separate priority. Instead, with each new priority for a school, we should be asking, “ How can technology be a part of this?”. This relates to the shared leadership aspect of the Best Practice Rubric – that we need school leaders to understand and advocate for the initiative and vision.
FOURTH POINT OF ACTION: CONSIDERATIONS SHOULD BE MADE ABOUT TECHNOLOGY USE IN ALL INITIATIVES SO THAT IT IS NOT JUST ANOTHER THING. SHARED VISION IS IMPORTANT
Evaluating the Program
Another area of examination during the two days was how we go about evaluating the program. Lots of people were very interested in this question. For me, I know the collection of data is important but I value the kind of data that measures non-traditional outcomes rather than traditional ones. You have to consider the kind of outcomes that are valued by others however. This takes us right back to our vision for learning……..is this articulated clearly and are the things we value highly articulated and shared by our community?
- So, we need to look at the big picture – what are we evaluating? We saw lots of examples of feedback from students including pictures in response to a question like ‘what is learning English like in your classroom?” So, from this – we can think creatively about measuring data. We could mount an iPad in a room and do a time lapse of the room and then talk about what is happening and what we can see.
- We need to have researcher’s eyes and develop really good questions that allow us to collect data on the things we most value. Spending time on this front end aspect is valuable and will allow you to put energy and time into collecting the data that you want to collect to demonstrate what you need to show. Action research is fantastic – plan to do something, act upon it and as you are doing it, reflect on it.
- It was also mentioned that we should think about the data we already have and look at this with new eyes. We should publish this in some way – do a newsletter, bring the data together.
- We should look at how we measure progress from term to term. We need to remember that giving them devices has opened up opportunities – we need decide what it is we really care about and what it is we need to measure.
- When thinking about qualitative vs quantitative, we need to think about the objective. One point of best practise is to realise that you are collecting data at one point in time. This is like a dipstick and an opportunity to get a snapshot. Surveys can ask the same question each time. If you wish to measure change – don’t change the measure. 80% can stay the same and some can change.
FIFTH POINT OF ACTION
What can we collect data on?
We want to know to what extent the focus on INQUIRY within the Year 5 History curriculum has an affect on individualised learning experiences.
We want to know to how teachers are REDESIGNING THE CURRICULUM to provide a personal and engaging learning experience for students in Year 4 English/History.
Below is our SAMR ladder demonstrating how we could work on the above, supporting teachers to use technology to do this.
Additional Notes about the image above which included Reuben’s feedback:
In the m stage – make sure you have a clear link for what you are seeking to show – refer to the questions we formulated at the beginning about inquiry.
We need to include feedback after the staff presentation.
Consider parent input – what can the parents bring to their conversation? The parents are not in the classroom……so what can they contribute? They need to know what it is are looking to evaluate and so their feedback needs to be INFORMED feedback.
Consider a micro experience – place parents in the situation where they can be able to provide informed feedback.
This is a design process………
This ladder is about getting parents and a community to best understand IBL
There is another ladder that would have to be made about changing teacher’s mindsets (our proposed work with NoTosh).