Monday, July 03, 2006

Technology and professional development

I've just read a blog posting by a guy named Jeff Utecht. He was writing about professional development and points out that teachers don't know what they don't know about the technology training they need. They're comfortable with a few tools and really don't know what else is out there and they don't have time to explore anything new. One response to this blog was from Doug Johnson who says this: "My push has been to change the question from “What specific technology training would you find helpful next year?” to “What are your biggest educational challenges/goals for next year?” and then think about how technology can be tied back into them. I also like to ask “What is your WORST unit and how might we add a tech component to it that will improve it?”

This brings me back to a previous post of mine from June 25th. In that post, I was thinking about David Warlick's notion that we should be integrating curriculum instead of integrating technology and I was brainstorming some if...then statements in that regard. Doug Johnson's question "What specific educational challenges/goals for next year?" relates to this. Here are some examples I'm thinking of: for the past few summers, each of our elementary buildings has been going through a process of data analysis using state assessment data and others. This data is used to inform instructional goals for the next year. Let's pick a possible goal: "improve expository writing" and then construct an if-then situation. If we want students to improve their expository writing skills then we need to help them develop the skills related to this type of writing and we need to provide them with authentic situations in which to write. If we want to improve expository writing then we can provide students with instruction in the use of Inspiration to organize the content of their writing. We can provide our students with access to wikis which will allow them to use their declarative knowledge of [Social Studies] content to work on projects where expository writing is necessary to display their understanding of the content.

We really CAN integrate curriculum with the technology tools that are already readily available. Many of these tools take very little time and effort to employ in instruction.

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