Education Week - Calendar of Events - August 21, 2013 - (Page C7)

Want Better Classroom Tech? Give Teachers More Time By Bud Hunt As an instructional technology coordinator for a large school district in northern Colorado, I see an awful lot of interesting uses of technology in the classroom. However, as a professional developer and former classroom teacher, I see too many things done to teachers and students, rather than with them. If we believe that student choice and passion and curiosity are essential to learning, how can we approach professional development for teachers without considering these as starting places for teachers and their learning about technology? Top 10 lists, sit-and-gets, and vague mandates about “technology proficiency” are not useful. And yet they fill up Twitter streams, Facebook walls, and blog pages all over the place. Four years ago, some of my colleagues and I attempted a radical (at least for us) shift in the way we approached technology-related professional development. Our starting point was that teachers, as learners and as inquirers, should have control over their learning and explorations in technology. Thus, the St. Vrain Valley school district’s Digital Learning Collaborative was born. A two-year program that costs about as much for a team of teachers as one day with most technology consultants, the collaborative is an attempt to return the agency around teacher learning to the teacher. In the first year, we help team leaders to convene iStockphoto.com/Akindo; Vanessa Solis/Education Week Cultivating Tech-Savvy Teachers Should Be Higher Priority, Report Says By Sean Cavanagh Teachers may be the undisputed authorities on academic content in their classrooms, but when it comes to their knowledge of technology, many of them have a lot of catching up to do. The widely acknowledged need to improve the technology skills of teachers and other school officials, and help them understand how digital tools should be used in the classroom, should be a major area of focus among state officials and other policymakers, according to a recent report by the National Association of State Boards of Education. The association’s recommendations cover a lot of ground—from the need to improve educational infrastructure in schools, and tailor learning to personalize instruction, to the need to use technology to build students’ foundational research and analytical skills. But the report also examines the extent to which many teachers, principals, curriculum specialists, and support staff lack the necessary familiarity with technology to make the most of it in classrooms. Lots of barriers exist to closing this gap, including steady teacher turnover, and a generation gap: The average age of principals is around 50, the report’s authors say, so “it will be some years before a large portion of school leaders are digital natives.” Many teachers, meanwhile, aren’t given adequate training for the tech challenges ahead, the report contends. “Many educator preparation programs do not provide ad- equate focus on the teaching skills, dispositions, and strategies needed to thrive in a technology-rich school or reflect the digital learning environments we want to create in our K-12 classrooms,” it says. “Professional learning for teachers too often has not kept pace with advances in technology or new ways of learning, even as the number and quality of these opportunities have fallen significantly due to budget cuts.” One of the report’s findings relates to teachers’ understanding of how to use data: Just three states have put in place policies and practices, including professional development and credentialing, to ensure that educators know how to “access, analyze, and use data appropriately.” The report, written by a study group made up almost entirely of state board officials and others, offers several recommendations for improving the picture on this front. Among them: State boards and teacher-licensing enti- ties should take steps to ensure that teacher-candidates have technology skills and the ability to use technology to personalize instruction; they should ensure that aspiring teachers have “robust clinical experiences” for which they use technology and online programs; and they should improve both access to professional development and mentoring throughout the school day on technology. This article originally appeared in Education Week’s Digital Education blog. teams of teachers curious about exploring more of the technology around them. In that first year, we instruct our teachers not to race to implement new technology in the classroom; instead, we encourage them to take time to play and explore and wonder. Dig deep. Try something new. Fiddle with it for a while. Explore. Play. Experiment. In year two, we ask teachers to explore the consequences of their explorations and learning in their classrooms, and to conduct a teacher-research study about what happens when they apply their learning to students’ experiences. This can be messy work, and some of the teachers we work with are unsettled by it. They would much prefer that we tell them what to do, and when to do it, and why it matters. School districts, it seems, have sometimes taken the agency away from the folks we trust to facilitate that agency in others. That’s not such a good thing. But we have learned that prescriptive learning isn’t learning that lasts, so we try to build support structures where our teachers can struggle together to better understand the technology that surrounds us. We want those teachers, and the students they support, to actively engage the tech of today, and to be ready to face the technology of tomorrow. You can keep your Top 10 lists, or your quick tweets of “must reads.” And while tech-advocacy days are fine and certainly can raise awareness, they’re not terribly useful in terms of actual day-to-day organizational change. So a special day to boost digital technology use is a good start. But that’s all it is. I’ve found that thoughtful inquiry and meaningful time for exploration are the best tools for thoughtful technology integration. Deep learning and instructional change take time, and I hope you’re helping the folks you work with to find the time in their days for learning to happen. Bud Hunt is an instructional technology coordinator for the St. Vrain Valley school district in Colorado. He blogs at Bud the Teacher at www.budtheteacher.com. This essay originally appeared on the Education Week Teacher website. EDUCATION WEEK 2013 CALENDAR OF EVENTS & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT DIRECTORY www.edweek.org/go/calendar 7 DIGITAL PD TAKES OFF OPINION http://www.iStockphoto.com/Akindo http://www.budtheteacher.com http://www.edweek.org/go/calendar

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - Calendar of Events - August 21, 2013

Education Week - Calendar of Events - August 21, 2013
Contents
Flipped’ PD Initiative Boosts Teachers’ Tech Skills
Study Aims to Evaluate Tech-Related Teacher PD
Online Tools Playing Greater Role in Teacher PD
MOOCs Provider Targets K-12 Teacher PD
Opinion: Getting Real About Educational Technology
Cultivating Tech-Savvy Teachers Should Be Higher Priority, Report Says
Opinion: Want Better Classroom Tech?
2013-2014 Calendar of Events
Sponsors of Events
Subject Index
Directory Table of Contents
Directory Index
Directory Listing

Education Week - Calendar of Events - August 21, 2013

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