Monthly Archives: May 2010

Matching Technology to Strategy

I have mentioned in previous posts the need for our instructional strategies to incorporate the technology available to us. As an instructional coach there are many experts whose work I follow and endorse, one of whom is Robert Marzano.

This article outlines ways to integrated technology into the classroom using strategies recommended by Marzano in “Classroom Instruction That Works“. This is another good example of how easy it can be to effectively incorporate technology into your everyday practice.

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Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century

I just found this article which perfectly reflected many of things I have been thinking about recently. We as educators have an understanding that the world we are preparing our students for is one where the ability to use and understand technology is critical, but do we fully grasp the implications that has for our everyday teaching?

The graphic shown from educational origami outlines many key roles an educator is now required to fill. One of the most interesting aspects of my job as an instructional coach has been talking to teachers about the difference between ‘teaching’ and ‘facilitating learning opportunities’. The roles outlined in the article very definitely lean towards the teacher as a facilitator and co-learner.

21st century educators must model what it means to be a learner and how information should be received and processed in the age of technology. As outlined in the Ontario School Library Association’s document “Together for Learning“, students are having an increasingly difficult time making meaningful connections between what they learn at school and the skills they need in the outside world. as educators our responsibility is to make those links apparent and model what it is not only to be a 21st century teacher, but also a 21st century learner.

It Doesn’t Have to be Difficult

I stumbled upon this website yesterday. There are countless sites like this one, which outline simple yet effective ways technology can be incorporated into our everyday use in the classroom. This one caught my eye due to the use of the word “tomorrow” in its tag-line.

Tomorrow. It really is that easy. As soon as you make the decision to include technology in the instruction and learning experience in your classroom (and really, with the mountain of research outlining why you should, what compelling reason can you make for not incorporating technology?), you can start immediately. Not only that, you can be effective immediately.I have mentioned before that engagement is only the door to learning. If someone told you that engagement in your classroom could increase exponentially starting “tomorrow”, wouldn’t you do it?

Maybe I Missed The Point?

After my recent post questioning the merits of Twitter, I had several conversations with colleagues on the topic. Invariably we got on to discussing our internet viewing habits, exchanging the sites we regularly visit and the blogs we try to keep tabs on. I, as I assume most do, have a pretty standard routine of sites I visit every morning and then others I try to check in on through the day. I have made use of RSS feeds to keep up with them, I have used Tizmos to access direct from my homepage, and enjoyed the most viewed feature of Google Chrome. In short, I had a routine I was happy with.

The Twitter conversations got on to the topic of how this routine can be streamlined by using Twitter and then expanded with the extra time created. I was skeptical. My experience of Facebook and Twitter had led me to view it as little more than self-indulgence. However, I promised to explore with an open mind.

Over the last two days I have created a new Twitter account, linked it to my blog and spent several hours trawling for people who might link content I am interested in, including those who were part of my daily routine.

The results thus far have been interesting to say the least. I am wondering how I am ever going to find time to read everything I am being sent. Because I approached this with a purpose, I have basically excluded the self-indulgent and am inundated with the fascinating. The point I made in my initial post was that Twitter seemed an important tool for those with an audience and platform. What I did not realize or know, was that it was also beneficial for an audience with a purpose.

I am happy to have gone through this process. I aim to teach students to engage in critical analysis, to find the strengths and weaknesses of materials in front of them. By focusing on just one aspect of Twitter, I missed the bigger picture. Count me in as someone who has seen the value of this service and am excited to explore its potential to impact learning in our classrooms.

Supporting Teacher’s Learning

I am genuinely proud to work for an employer who sees the value in supporting teachers with a job-embedded model of professional development. I have spent the past year working as an “instructional coach”, one of 19 hired by my district to serve 61 elementary schools. In addition to this we have at least one coach per school in the secondary panel.

Perhaps the most innovative model however, is our “paired” math coaches. These two coaches work as a team to support math instruction at the intermediate level. Their work was recently featured in the Staff Development Council of Ontario’s monthly newsletter and has been making a significant impact on math instruction with grade 7 and 8 teachers.

One of the reasons I like the work of these coaches is that they are passionate about developing the use of technology in the intermediate classroom. They model and support the use of “Gizmos“, they create easy-to-use yet exciting materials with Smart Notebook, and they keep a blog which provides ongoing support and resources to intermediate math teachers.

The math coaches are currently only available on an ‘application’ basis. I would strongly advise anyone with access to them to apply for this outstanding professional learning opportunity. In the meantime, bookmark the blog and check in regularly for activities to support your Grade 7 and 8 math instruction.