This is the standard that was the driving force behind my return to school. I wanted the ability to better assist my teachers with applying and implementing curriculum plans that include methods and strategies for using technology to maximize student learning. How can I help these over-worked and over-whelmed teachers implement technology into their lessons? How can I make them understand that technology can motivate and draw out “wallflower” students? Technology, in my opinion, is an important piece of the puzzle that, when used correctly, can support and enhance the very learning that teachers want so dearly.
I’ve asked teachers in my district over the last 17 months why they don’t use the technology that has been provided for them. We have Promethean boards, top of the line color document cameras, Discovery Learning streaming media, laptops, and eInstruction clickers. The answer is invariably that they don’t have time to learn how to use all of it. I privately take this very personally! It’s MY job to make sure that they CAN use these technologies. However, my hands are tied because, in addition to my duties as District Technology Coordinator, I am also the District TAKS/STAAR/EOC Coordinator, Special Education Supervisor, HS computer teacher and Erate liaison. How can I change the minds of the administration and the faculty about how imperative it is that we integrate technology into instruction when I can barely spend 2 hours a day on it? Technology shouldn’t be a weekly trip to the computer lab or a kid working a math problem on the whiteboard. Technology must be an integral part of the school day to produce 21st century learners. I sometimes feel like West Texas is in a fishbowl looking out at everyone else making leaps and bounds with technology, but I noted while reading the Solomon and Schrum article, that they mention to readers that “you will notice that there are not a lot of examples as of yet in which an entire school system has re-conceptualized itself to incorporate technology…” (Schrum & Solomon, 2007, p. 23)
I have become more familiar with the curriculum strategies that support technology integration and am trying to implement them into my school. Texas requires that Technology Application TEKS be taught for all grade levels. We conducted a technology application TEKS comparison in one of our courses and found that the objectives spiral from one grade level to the next and are re-taught with increasing levels of rigor. My school purchased a web-based technology application product called Learning.com. This software program does an excellent job of teaching these TEKS at an appropriate level for our elementary and junior high students, but we are still a long way from implementing all of the curriculum strategies. We haven’t introduced technology requirements to the school board and we currently do not have grade specific benchmarks. After so many Texas schools fell in the accountability ratings this year, technology is not at the top of the priority list. Principals are scrambling so hard to find a magic bullet to regain their school’s coveted “Exemplary” or “Recognized” statuses that they are ignoring what might actually BE the magic bullet.
Perhaps with my shiny new Master’s in Educational Technology and my principal certification, I can help change the way educators in my school feel about technology. I can remember a veteran teacher who recently retired telling me that she was there to teach, not to entertain. I respect this woman very much, but she was wrong. We really have no choice about the students’ desire to learn with entertaining digital tools. Schools are being forced to change and incorporate more technology due to the sophistication of today’s students who do not consider technology an “extra”. Technology for these kids is a way of life and a major source of communication. Technology has changed the way today’s youth approach life. This is the way they communicate, research, learn, play and are challenged. Simply sitting in a classroom taking notes everyday doesn’t help them learn, it makes them resist. “This disparity threatens to alienate youth further and encourage the already growing student perceptions that schools are outdated and irrelevant to their interests and goals. (Williamson & Redish, 2009, p. 57)
Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2007). Web 2.0 new tools, new schools. Eugene, OR: International
Society for Technology in Education
Williamson, O., & Redish, T. (2009). Iste's technology facilitation and leadership standards,
what every k-12 leader should know and be able to do. Intl Society for Technology in
Educ. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books/feeds/volumes?q=9781564842527