Yesterday after school, I dashed to my car and drove to another school district in the area, where I am beginning to do some consulting work around the integration of technology and New Literacies ideas in an elementary school setting (this is all through the Western Massachusetts Writing Project). This district received an Innovation Grant from our state and is doing inquiry around how they can better use technology for student engagement and learning.
I was brought in yesterday to chat with a committee of teachers, parents, School Committee members, and the principal about the venture. I’ll also be spending an entire day there in late April, doing some demonstrations in classrooms and then working with the staff in the afternoon. It’s exciting to be part of this school’s push forward, and I hope I can help them do it in a meaningful way.
Our meeting yesterday was pretty informal. I presented some of my views around technology:
- Helping student make the shift from consumers of media to creators of content
- Using the backwards design model so that technology is just a tool to get where we need to be, not the focus of the instruction itself
- Making sure teachers have time to play and investigate and reflect on technologies in a safe, nurturing community
- Moving away from the isolated Computer Lab model to a more integrated model of technology right in the classroom
- Valuing the technology literacies of students outside of school
- Understanding that online communities provide important professional development opportunities
- Reaching the “middle group” of teachers who are ready to make a shift, but need a path forward
One of my suggestions is that the school consider a “theme” for its move forward, and so we talked a lot about digital storytelling and its power to use voice, image, multimedia and writing across various age levels. My demonstrations will focus on digital storytelling in the various grades, although it will be only a taste (in a limited time).
In the meeting, there were questions around a lot of topics already, including:
- Differentiated instruction and reaching all students with technology
- The potential value of 1-to-1 computing environments
- Ways to consider digital citizenship as part of an instructional unit
- How technology can create pockets of collaboration
- The potential of publishing for students
- How does an ICT position (the lab teacher) transform into a technology coach position
- How technology use might look different in the lower grade levels (and what that might look like)
I have to admit, I felt pretty honored and humbled to have been invited into this role. While I know I do a lot with technology with my students, and I am invited to give PD at various times for other districts, I’d love to see this consultant gig emerge into a partnership with this school where I can provide resources, advice and learning experiences for the teachers there in a way that makes sense for them. I want to value their school culture in our work. I see the role of consultant in this way as more of a partner, and guide, than the “expert.” My hope is to learn from them, as they learn from me.
Peace (in the sharing),