|2b. Coach teachers in and model design and implementation of technology-enhanced learning experiences using a variety of research- based, learner-centered instructional strategies and assessment tools to address the diverse needs and interests of all students.|
Amazing instruction will always be amazing instruction with or without technology. We managed to produce creative, innovative, intelligent, thoughtful, caring, citizens from within our school systems for years using the old model of education, without technology, so it is hard to visualize why we should approach teaching and learning differently. The problem is that those systems really only worked for a majority of our population. There have been learners in every generation who have slipped through the cracks, were written off as not smart enough to succeed or who gave up because the system did not fit their needs or strengths. Technology has the potential power to help us better track those at risk students, diagnose their areas of struggle and design learning experiences that better meet their learning styles and needs.
I believe that no amount of technology will make teachers better teachers or learner better learners. If we want to ensure that ALL students learn we need to first start with good instruction. I really enjoyed learning about the Understanding by Design (UbD) model. To me it makes complete sense to start with purpose and work backward. “This process helps avoid the common problems of treating the textbook as the curriculum rather than as a resource, and activity-oriented teaching in which no clear priorities and purposes are present.”(Wiggins & McTighe, 2005) I used the model to develop a lesson plan on What is Redefinition? that I taught to my Future Ready Teacher Cohort. I think the task of thinking about what I wanted them to learn first helped me focus on how I might use technology to support the lesson, rather than technology being the lesson. In the end, we played the four corners game, which did not involve technology at all but led to rich conversation and a clearer understanding of the SAMR model that we were able to translate into our technology planning later.
UbD meshes well with another model we looked at, Universal Design for Learning (UDL). This model asks teachers to look closely at their student’s unique needs first before designing instruction. Again, it looks at purpose and learning targets first and then keeps the individual student needs in mind as you design inclusive learning experiences. It is partly about accessibility and ADA compliance, as I looked at in Helping Teachers Make Digital Learning Accessible to All, but all of the tools that make learning easier for special needs populations can benefit our general ed students as well. It is about choosing the right tool or the right instructional strategy to design experiences that will help all of your students learn.
The final part of this standard is about developing learner-centered instructional strategies. We can not push knowledge into our student’s heads but we need to encourage them to be part of the learning experience. I really like the idea of mastery based learning. Students will increasingly be learning online and hopefully continuing on to learn independently after college. They need the skills to be able to learn on their own, to retrain themselves, or to follow their passions. I wrote about Empowering Learners to Define Mastery because one skill we will need to learn independently is to understand what it takes to master a skill. How do we know when we truly know something? Helping students work through the process of defining evidence for their learning around standards and what it means to master a skill will benefit them as they continue to learn throughout their lives.
McTighe, J., & Wiggins, G. (2012). Understanding By Design Framework (p. 2). Alexandria: ASCD. Retrieved from https://www.ascd.org/ASCD/pdf/siteASCD/publications/UbD_WhitePaper0312.pdf