Call for Data

I am in the midst of an ACTION RESEARCH PROJECT…

I would love to hear any thoughts and feelings you all have reguarding professional development and they way it is provided in your district.

Please provide me with name, experience (yrs), and location. 

Here is my problem statement:

Educators in the DuBois area school district need to provide a relevant education to their students.  Currently, few teachers are demonstrating 21st century applications or skills in their classroom.  We believe that this is a result of inconsistent professional development and a lack of technical support.

Therefore, we will make a concerted effort to provide quality in-service training that is relevant to the educator’s aptitude and follow up with consistent skill reinforcement.  Furthermore we will make a concerted effort to provide adequate resources to educators whenever and where ever they choose to use the new knowledge or skill they have acquired.  

Research Questions:

1.  What are the 21st century skills we want our teachers to model?

2.  How can we provide consistent and relevant training to 200 teachers?

3.  Will adequate resources encourage teachers to integrate technology into their curriculum?

I believe that feelings are relevant to atmosphere or environment so I encourage you to let it out.  If you would like to keep anything private, please note it so that I do not publish the comment or include you name on the paper. 

Thank you network.

Take Care.

11 thoughts on “Call for Data

  1. We currently, as a private school, have zero PD. Last year I offered free Training Tuesdays to all staff/faculty. I had one taker. This year, our principal will require this of faculty. We also have an acsi workshop and a smartboard training (we’re getting two!) set up.
    1. We desperately need to teach the ISTE standards (so we are all on the same page)esp critical thinking, problem solving, & collaboration. These are essential skills for future workers in our global economy.
    2. Set up a wiki with pages for training one, training two, etc. Participants can move through at their own pace. Those Act 48 things can be signed by a facilitator who oversees the trainings. Perhaps a quiz or artifact will be required as culminating activity by PDE. If PDE was approving all PETE-C workshops (some were worthless), then this detail should be no problem.
    Also, we have an audiotorium with a internet hookup and screen, so we can present before hands-on, though i personally prefer hands-on. I think many teachers would like presentations first. We can seat 750.
    3.I think initially someone else doing the tech will help. I hope to start a Student Tech Team for this purpose, since none of us can be everywhere at once. Teachers need the resources, but they need the how-to demonstrated, as well as relevance. Some of us (like me) need the how-to demo many, many times before we get it..
    You may publish anything I say (or stutter)
    Lisa Durff

  2. Hello! I am involved in an alternative certification program for new teachers. We are an independent non-profit and a competency-based program. When we talk about 21st century skills, they need to be imbedded into the core standards and expectations we have for our teachers. The great challenge is when we suggest that 21st century skills are an add-on – They need to be integrated into all aspects of whatever PD occurs. We are striving to fully integrate the ISTE standards into our curriculum so that our interns (student teachers) learn the skills without even knowing they are really doing it. It’s hard, but very exciting.

    At the core: We are moving to an electronic portfolio system, so that all interns will need to be able to demonstrate those skills as part of their certification. Have you considered helping them develop those skills in ways that are relevant and/or fun to them, like doing reflective digital stories, for example??

    Just a few thoughts from New Hampshire. Good luck! If you would like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I am about to begin researching what works and what does not work about this strategy…

  3. Research Questions:

    1. What are the 21st century skills we want our teachers to model?
    I think that you must first convince the powers that be that a one day workshop WILL NOT work. You cannot even create the needed skills in one day, let alone try to create a change in mindset of when to use them.

    I’d lay out a series of several days, if possible, and I’d keep the group together so you could show the power of the network. I’d USE tools without TEACHING the tools – as much as possible. Just in time training on the tools while focusing on the types of lessons and assessments you’re after. I’d create a series of model lessons and have them be the students. They would do the lesson, then use a tool to report out on it as their evaluation. You would have a rubric ready for each lesson and review it with them so that they knew what was expected in their project.

    For example, I might do a lesson on a familiar book in which the teams would be responsible for creating wiki pages about plot and character development – whatever the desired outcomes were to be. If there was key vocabulary, that would be a required part of their project, as well. They would use the discussion pages to discuss what should be included and what should NOT be, etc etc. You can see that this would easily take half a day if you allowed them the chance to really work the tools and see the thought processes that go into it.

    Then, of course, I’d bring them back together to show the wiki to the group and let each team discuss their part of it. Finally, I’d open it up to discussion. I’d have the essential questions for the unit on the board (projected) and ask them if those questions had been answered. I’d ask them to discuss THEIR learning in the process. Let them hash it out. Let them talk about the time element of grading such projects, and the subjective nature of it. Let them come up with acceptable solutions.

    Then, when it was all done, I’d ask them to write a single quote that would express their feelings about that lesson, and I’d get them into a powerpoint somehow by the end of the day. Then I’d put one quote per slide and send it to slideshare and post that slideshare in your wiki for them to see. Keep a running track of comments so you can show them how they’ve grown over the X number of days, too.

    Here’s an idea that I plan to use with my teahers this fall. I’ll start by showing them a few of the videos that we’re so familiar with by now. The Shift Happens video, the Pay Attention video, the Machine is Us/ing Us, the one about when I grow up, etc etc. Then, after we’ve done a number of sessions and have become comfortable with the tools and with the change in philosophy, etc, I’ll have them write out a script for a movie of our own. I’ll ask them what they want to say, and we may use GoogleDocs as the tool for them to get it together about their message. Then we’ll script it and then make the video. I’m psyched for that one!

    As for the skills themselves, I would love to see them purposefully using discussion forums to extend the classroom conversations. In fact, I guess my responses to this part all come down to the ‘purposefully’ part which means that they must know the tools and when they are best used. For example, they’d need to know when to use a blog vs a discussion forum, or a wiki vs a blog, etc.

    2. How can we provide consistent and relevant training to 200 teachers?

    I think your initial focus might be on having them focus on the idea of learning networks. It will be a struggle for some, but as soon as that network forms your job stress level drops significantly as they use the discussion forums to share ideas, or perhaps they build a wiki together of assessment ideas, with the comment areas being for feedback. But, get them into the mode of self-directed learners. So when you throw something out there they swarm over it and work it out together. (In a perfect world)

    3. Will adequate resources encourage teachers to integrate technology into their curriculum?

    The resources must not only be adequate but they must be RELIABLE and easy to use. Of course, for those teachers who are still struggling with email, easy is a VERY relative term. But, if you can show them the the technology works, works well, and is easy to use, I think they’ll come along.

    Good luck. They’re lucky to have someone in their corner who truly ‘gets it.’ No smoke. You’re a good man for the job!

    Wow… how’s THAT for a comment? 😉

  4. I love your problem statement and questions!

    I am also starting a project this fall that seeks to web 21st century skills with professional development (mentoring and induction activities, to be specific). This may eventually feed into my master’s thesis, which was supposed to focus on integration of these skills and applications within a language arts classroom context. However, I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that isolated integration within my own classroom will never result in the reforms we seek.

    Can I add a couple more questions to the conversation? First, how can the instructional leadership MODEL and encourage the integration of technology?

    And, your last question about resources made me think about the intangibles — support, school culture, and system-wide policy that embraces web-based applications and student-centered computing. The word “resources” connotes “tools” — the hardware and the software applications. But there is plenty of evidence to show that when these are adequate and accessible, nothing really changes.

    What do YOU mean by “resources”?

  5. Thanks Jen,
    Good question. I suppose I think about resources as both the hardware and the support provided. Like your 4th question I am looking for “best practices” that can model for teachers, what I want them to model..if that makes sense.

    Keep in touch, I would be happy to share information as this progresses.
    Contact anytime.

  6. Great Questions!

    1. What are the 21st century skills we want our teachers to model?

    If we want our students to take charge of their own learning, be open to new ideas, and be willing to experiment, then we need to model these skills ourselves! Teachers also need to model a certain amount of persistence or as I like to call it, “stick-with-it-ness”.

    Jim Gates’s comment above is right on, a one-day workshop will not work, but I think that teachers as well as administrators need to realize this. It is not a one-day or even a one-year event. 🙂 I participated in the Sustainable Classroom Grant ( http://pattyoflynn.edublogs.org/sustainable-classroom/ ) two years ago and am still learning and improving the ways in which I integrate interactive technology. I expect this to continue indefinitely because there is always something new to learn about technology. How exciting!

    2. How can we provide consistent and relevant training to 200 teachers?

    That’s a difficult task! Keeping it small works better in my experience, so for 200 I would definitely use a professional learning team model which would enable subgroups to find their own focus which is most relevant to their needs. Teachers will come in with different levels of technology experience and comfort levels, and we need to meet them where they are if it’s going to work. Teaching teachers is all that different than teaching kids. 🙂

    3. Will adequate resources encourage teachers to integrate technology into their curriculum?

    The key to effective integration of technology is to focus on best practices and effective teaching strategies rather than on using “cool tools” for their own sake. The use of nonlinguistic representations is proven to increase student achievement, and my interactive whiteboard helps me use this strategy in my classroom. Effective formative assessment has been shown to increase student achievement, and my student response system helps me integrate this into every lesson. I use these technologies because they support good teaching, not just because they look cool (although they do).

    A great starting point would be the book Classroom Instruction That Works by Marzano et al which focuses on using nine particular research-based strategies in the classroom. We spent a year reading and discussing this book during 2005-2006 as part of our SCG training and focused on how we could use our new technology to implement the strategies presented. This put our focus on good teaching rather than on the technology, which is exactly where it needed to be IMO.

    Another thing to consider is release time to visit each other’s classrooms – I’ve learned more from getting into other classrooms and talking with teachers than I ever have from any professional training. When teachers see how others are using technology, it will get their wheels turning.

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