Sunday, February 28, 2010

Developing a Rubric - Phase 2

At his point of the pilot, our challenge is to create a rubric to measure the effect of literacy and technology on student learning.  Although this appears self evident to many of us - why else would the state invest all of this money? - it is much more of a challenge than it appears.  As a coach, I can walk into a classroom and identify the effectiveness of the literacy/technology combo - but - how do we identify separate elements and assume a correlation?

On February 23,  Tom Ward,  Sue Pratt, Mona Baker and I met to review our process so far.  We rethought our progress, so this week I have revisited resources, rethought connections, and reflected on assessment.  I feel like the little guy on the left:) - it seems like a perfect fit and then I find a bug!
Many educators are at the same juncture for a variety of reasons.
  1. Technology and the opportunities it provides us, has caused us to rethink and rewite our definition of literacy.  Ryan Bretag  , author of Metatonia, defines it this way:"Literacy is a group of evolving skills and skill sets as well as a form of knowledge needed for thoughtful, meaningful, and effective communication in socially relevant contexts."
 You can check out his blog, Metanoia under the list of blogs in the navigation bar on the right.    

2.  Ruth Reynard in her article, Technology's Impact on Learning Outcomes: Can It Be Measured?, wrote in 5/14/09,

"The main benefits of technology use are to support each individual student in his/her own learning process, provide direct access to all learning supports he/she might need (as well as creating his/her own when needed), and collaborating within various learning communities and project teams.

Additionally, misconceptions exist around the direct role of technology in the learning process, and, often, the technology is regarded as the teacher rather than a tool used by teachers and students to support the dynamic process of learning.

While content remains important, we know that it is always expanding, and, therefore, we must work with students to know how to think within certain disciplines rather than simply produce rote information. How do historians think? How do biologists think?

  • Focus on how rather than what. Teachers who encourage students to focus on “how” something works or happens are more likely to develop students who can think beyond what is currently happening to what might happen more efficiently and effectively.
  • Focus on why rather than when. Additionally, teachers who encourage students to ask “why” questions are more likely to develop thinking skills that help students to move beyond the understanding of simple tasks and the fulfillment/completion of simple tasks toward the more complex skills of problem solving.
  • Focus on future trends rather than current practices. The ultimate result of these kinds of

    approaches to learning is that we will see students who can move toward future trends and progressive organizations and methods, who can move toward change rather than stagnate within existing practices that may or may not meet the demands or the needs of clients and participants.
In order for us to be able to evaluate whether technology use improves student learning outcomes, my sense is that we as educators must redefine those outcomes and the methods with which they will be measured.  

Additionally, if teachers were better equipped to use technology, not only would students have a more consistent experience from class to class, but we could actually begin to see what effects the technology is having on student learning through more disciplines and over longer periods of time.

Certainly, if learning outcomes were to include more of the kinds of skills likely to be developed through technology use, we could move beyond the obvious and begin really to see how the actual learning is being changed, if at all." 

I agree with Reynard.   I believe effective teachers are teaching students how to think when they use technology by creating authentic tasks and opportunities to employ thinking strategies.  Not too surprisingly, the thinking strategies I have identified are "literacy" strategies that have now been labeled "thinking" strategies.  - And Yet - we do not measure them with our summative assessments.  Will this prove to be our "bug?" 
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Is technology alone enough?

 Over the last 2 years, I have spent a great deal of time in classrooms observing teachers using technology, used technology myself when providing staff development with teachers, and used every spare minute to research where we are in implementing technology in our classrooms in Maine.  There appears to be a split between teachers who use technology as a separate entity and technology as a resource - if used in conjunction with appropriate prompts and tasks - to provide opportunities for students to develop 21st century skills, taken from Standards for the 21st Century Learner in Action by American Association of Librarians.
The biggest challenge for classrooms using technology is teaching students strategies to access the information, select the appropriate information,  comprehend the information and then synthesize or create new information.  While this process is easily outlined, the specificity of teaching these strategies within the context of technology is a balancing act for teachers - requiring them to have a solid foundation in their content area, technology, and literacy strategies.  Recently, e-School News published the results of a study on the elements involved in successful 1to1 computing programs. 

One-to-one computing programs only as effective as their teachers

Experts say 1-to-1 computing research needs to focus more on classroom practices—and less on equipmen

By Meris Stansbury, Associate Editor

It’s “impossible to overstate the power of individual teachers in the success or failure of 1-to-1 computing,” Bebell and Kay write. “Teachers nearly always control how and when students access and use [the] technology during the school day. In addition, teachers must make massive investments in time and effort to adapt their teaching materials and practices to make the 1-to-1 environment effective and relevant.”

Our two year pilot in Maine schools has lead us to the same conclusion.  Therefore, over the next few months we will be visiting Maine classrooms, observing students' behavior and teacher instruction.

Please check our blog.  We will be posting our visits.

PS - Webinars will be coming up in March and April.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Survey for Pilot

A few weeks ago, we finalized one of the surveys we have been working with to try and develop "digital" background for some of the students we are planning to look at during our pilot.  Hattie has administered the following survey to her students during her midterms. 
      One of the most important issues we need to address when we are drawing correlations between technology and literacy is the total amount of time - in and out of school - students have access to and are using technology.  We know that early expose to reading and reading outside of school has a direct correlation to students' ability to read - and we are suspecting the same of our tech savy students:)  When school is back in session, we will be meeting to review the data and will let you know about any trends we observe.
  You can create your own survey and analyze the data you collect by going to google docs and following the directions.  It is easy!


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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Committee Update, February 10, 2010

     Our third grade team, Elaine and Bill, are busy getting ready for their project on e-pals.  Elaine has enrolled her students and all of them have sent her a message and she has returned one.  The students love it:)  Bill's kids should be up and running after break.  This process is much more involved than presented during the trainings for e-pals.  Anyone considering using this program needs to check with the tech coordinator regarding capacity as well as registering students.

The committee has selected the rubrics to be used for our pilot data.  We will be posting them as soon as they have been finalized.  I think they are rubrics everyone will be able to adopt in their classrooms.

     Thanks to the generosity of Title 2, we will be presenting a series of webinars in March and April.  Presenters will be classroom teachers who will share their instructional strategies and student work.  Our teachers will represent grades 3-12 in a variety of content areas. You will love this.  The teachers are using the technology in a way to further strategies used on text and the student results have been excellent as well as the engagement!   More later:)

Enjoy your February break.  Check our blog.  We will be posting:)
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