2a – Summary & Evidence

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2a. Coach teachers in and model design and implementation of technology-enhanced learning experiences addressing content standards and student technology standards.

The standards related to technology that are embedded in the Common Core have been around now since 2009. At first I think the blind eye that seemed to be turned toward the technology in those standards was in large part due to the lack of technology resources in schools. At the time, there was still a pretty wide Digital Divide in terms of access to internet and WiFi in many communities. Many schools, including mine, were just putting in their first computer labs. Unfortunately, so much money was needed to create equitable access to “things” that we missed out on the opportunity to develop the transformational mindset needed to see those devices as a new way to approach teaching, rather than a more efficient and, most often, fancier way of doing the same traditional teaching teachers had been doing without computers. That trend toward putting off looking at or holding teachers accountable to teaching to the technology standards, at least in my district, is continuing with the addition of the new ISTE Student Standards and the National Computer Science Standards. Those were just adopted formally by the State of Washington just last week though so, hopefully, the conversation will start to shift.

“Nationally, significant progress has been made toward ensuring that every school has high-speed classroom connectivity as a foundation for other learning innovations.(US Education Department, 2017)”  As our use of technology for learning, and Learning Management Systems for making content accessible 24/7, increases we are causing a different gap between students who have access to smart phones, data plans and WiFi and computers at home with students who do not. Many districts are addressing this through 1:1 take home laptop programs and mobile hotspots for checkout to students in need.

The new inequity lies in the Digital Use Divide which “separates many students who use technology in ways that transform their learning from those that use tools to complete the same activities but now with an electronic device.(US Education Department, 2017)” This divide exists as much for teachers as it does for students. Teachers who have only experienced traditional Professional Development or basic technology skills training do not have the models they need to teach differently with technology. Many of them have chosen the “low hanging fruit” of drill and practice software, digital worksheets and traditional research and essay writing because it was an easy place to make the transition to using the tools they were given. It is an excellent first step and a good stepping stone for coaches to introduce new thinking for staff.

In my blog post What Does It Mean to Advocate for Technology? I made the point that “we will never really be able to change student outcomes for the better until we stop doing the same ineffective teaching that we have held onto for years and started to fundamentally rethink how we teach and what we expect students to do as learners.” I believe that one starting point is to look at technology standards in context. Last year the NorthSound Technology TOSA group set out to pull all the technology standards we could find from all content area standards as well as the Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards and Computer Science and pull them together by grade level so that we could start to look at overlaps and commonalities. Here is a link to our documents. The challenge was that most of the new standards are only broken down to the grade band leve. We tried our best to place standards where we felt they were appropriate but it would take some consensus by the group to firm those up. We stopped working on it as the state moved closer to adopting the standards in the hope that they would give some guidance to grade levels. They have not really gone that far yet and are leaving it up to the districts to determine. I would like to go back to these documents and go through a process of defining essential standards that we want to make sure each grade level addresses so there is some vertical alignment. Some districts have done this for fundamental skills, and that is a good place to start. Since that work is done I am almost more interested in looking at the tools and projects that could be used by teachers at each grade level that would help them teach those standards.

After that work is done, we can begin to identify for teachers the places where technology naturally fits into their current curriculum. We will be able to show them that the standards for technology do not need to be separate from the content area standards but can compliment them. We need to help teachers see how technology skills fit into the bigger work world for students by expecting teachers to use them as part of their own professional practice.

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