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From Tech class to Tech integration

A learning common

As a new tech integration specialist, moving to a school where they were changing from the tech class to the tech integration model there were certain things that needed to be understood beforehand.

Some of these key ideas I posted in a post called Technology Integration: a six-pronged approach.  Other ideas, however, had more to do with dealing with the emotions of colleagues and I will touch on this now.  I would liken these Kübler-Ross’ “Five Stages of Grief” to the emotions that many of the teachers went through when learning they were dealing with a new strategy for technology:

Denial: Most home room teachers who have been at the school for sometime, upon hearing that their school will be moving to this model will be in shock, and do not really understand what this means.  Some may decide that they do not have time to meet with or interact with the new ‘tech integrator’ assuming this stance as one where they can keep their heads in the sand as long as possible until they will have to deal with what has been given to them.

As a tech integrator it means you need to explain the process to teachers, knowing full-well that many of the words you say or write are falling on deaf ears.  It is of utmost importance that you have patience knowing that they are dealing with change, and are there to offer reassurance, help and support when they are ready to receive it.

Love

Anger: One of the biggest gripes from teachers is that they “have lost their prep. period”.  They do not see the big picture yet and feel like they have gained nothing, but definitely lost what most teachers treasure most – time.

As a tech integrator, this means that you have to be ready to act as the messenger, fully realizing that some teachers will be ready to shoot you.  Again, patience and understanding are key here.  Note that I am not saying, “push for your right to integrate tech”.  A tech integrators role, especially in the early stages, has more to do with empathizing and supporting than it does with integrating technology.  Be kind, be patient, listen, and support.

Bargaining: At this stage many teachers are still not ready to accept the role of the tech integrator and may decide that they will ‘leave for a coffee for the entire period’ while you teach the class in their classroom.  Although this may need to happen at first to ease into the transition there needs to be bargaining and compromise from both sides.  For instance, the tech integrator eventually needs to explain that his role is to be working with the teachers to integrate technology into the classroom.

The tech integrator eventually wants to work his way out of the job.  Essentially, he should be developing computer skills in all the teachers to such a degree that he can begin focussing his role more as a learning coach than a tech integrator.

Another worry from teachers is about how they will do the tech teaching themselves, how they are going to mark, who is going to mark, etc. These questions should all be explicitly focused upon over time with the tech integrator helping out along the way.  Remember, this is not a journey that will take a year.  In my experience and that of others, it takes between three and five years to fully move to tech integration.

Depression: There may be some hidden or some outright depression along the way.  Teachers may say things like, “I don’t know how to teach technology; I just don’t have the skill set; or Please, can you come and teach my class.”

As a tech integrator, the initial stage will mean getting to know all the teachers needs through regular meetings and setting up classroom visits.  However, upon you understanding the support necessary for different teachers, accommodation takes place at different levels.  For example, some teachers may want a lesson to be taught completely by the tech integrator.  Others, may want to team teach.  Other still, may want you there only as moral support or support when something gets tricky.  And finally, many may want you to teach them individually either for personal or professional purposes.  This is where the acceptance stage has started kicking in.

Acceptance: Not only is there a light at the end of the tunnel, but it is a bright shiny light when everyone reaches the end of that tunnel.  Here are some reasons:

  1. The students have a higher chance they are learning technology through authentic means, and not in a separate class where the end goal is to learn technology.  The computer and it’s peripheries begin to be thought of as a tool to help a student come up with better or altogether new ways to create solutions to genuine problems.  Ideally, the teachers and tech integrators are integrating with the highest levels of the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model.
  2. Tech integration improves student learning processes and outcomes because teachers who recognize a computer’s capacity move from a Behavioral approach to a constructivist approach as noted in this article.
  3. Technology integration enables total engagement of the class with tools like Google Docs, Microsoft One-Note, Socrative, Edmodo, and one of my new favorites Todaysmeet.  Integration also allows for students to enlist the help of other classes, schools, or even experts in a field to find the answers to the questions that may be posed.  Students or teachers can post in blogs, on social networks, through ePortfolios and through so many other forms.
  4. As a tech integrator, your colleagues can learn from you in so many capacities.  As mentioned above, they can learn while you are teaching, while they are teaching, or by themselves at their own pace.
  5. Finally, another advantage for you, the tech integrator, stepping into so many classes is that you are gleaning best teaching practice.  I like to think of a tech integrator as a bumblebee pollinating flowers, or carrying best practice from one class to the next. This again is teaching teachers, but it has reciprocal advantages.

While the stages are not the same for all teachers, a technology integrator stepping into these shoes in a school where they are changing from tech classes to integration is unwittingly going to stumble across some, if not all, of the teachers in one stage or another.  He needs to mentally prepare himself for the situation and recognize that he won’t be liked by most upon arrival.  He needs to remember to support, support, support.  In two or three years he will be loved even more than the tech teacher who would take the kids off the teachers hands so they could have a break.  Eventually, he will become the most loved teacher through all the school, even more than the gym teacher!!

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Posted by on August 12, 2013 in Technology

 

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Google to teach speaking

Attention:

You might not sound as smart as you think, especially if you consider how you sound in a foreign country.  Maybe you think your pronunciation is great, but you can’t understand why no one gets what you are trying to say.  There are things that you can do to practice.  One of the best sources I have recently been referred on to was Rosetta Stone (RS).  The reason I like it is because the software ensures reading, writing, connecting thoughts, listening AND SPEAKING!

It does not translate words for you.  At first I thought this was a silly way of learning, but after going through the RS system for a while I realized that building upon reference ideas and then repeating them was a great way to learn.  The drawback, however, is the cost.  (£149.00)  In that case, I have a workaround answer for you, but I will get to that after I have shown you proof that the RS system works.

Proof:

While researching for proof that Rosetta Stone was the best way to learn online or off out on the market, I found some contrasting evidence.  Some people spoke very highly of the product, such as these reviews:

Without a doubt the highest praise went to the ease with which reviewers were learning. Courses were described as being instinctive and natural, even though many had been skeptical about there being no English on the Rosetta Stone software. A lot of learners said that their children were also following their course and were enjoying the quizzes and games. Rosetta Stone seems to be engaging for any age group. The pace seemed to be appropriate, and many users liked a feature of the CD-ROM where it automatically started each session with a quick review of what was previously studied.  (http://www.therosettastonereviews.com/)

Rosetta Stone helps you learn 31 various languages spoken all round the world. It dishes some different and interesting techniques to get accomplish to the languages you want in your armory. People who want to study languages difficult to understand for fun or individuals who loves incomprehensible languages, should also give Rosetta Stone a try.  (http://judgesreviews.com/software/rosetta-stone-reviews)

However, this review was only a partial glimpse:

Some people will get benefit out of Rosetta Stone. I can see how it would happen. I did indeed learn something from this program, including having my first ever conversation in Dutch, which gave me an enormous boost of confidence.(http://www.fluentin3months.com/rosetta-stone-review/)

A further read of this same reviewing would show you this review as well:

Injecting this confidence is something that Rosetta Stone does very well but to be honest the time would have been much better spent on other tasks.  (http://www.fluentin3months.com/rosetta-stone-review/)

With that said, I have to personally say that I can see the benefit and enjoyment factor present with the RS method.  If you have time, it is worth giving it a try to see if the slightly expensive system is worth it to you.  If not, read on and maybe I have some alternative solutions.

Strategy:

There are many free websites to learn another language.  A good example of an English site for this is learn-english-online.org  Like most, it allows you to read, to write and sometimes even listen, but the sites do not include speaking.

Along comes Google!

I figured this out when my wife, who is not a native English speaker was trying to use the Google VoiceSearch found when you are using Chrome as your browser.

She was having the toughest time.  It was a little funny, especially when I heard what she was trying to say and what was coming up on Google.  For example, she might try to say, “Samui, Thailand” and it comes up, “Simile Highland”.  It takes some practice.  Sometimes it is even necessary for me, as a native English speaker to hear what she is saying and tell her to say the word(s) with more enunciation or inflection on a certain part.  How Google works well, is it confirms automatically where I might say to her, as her teacher, that she is saying something incorrectly, but she doesn’t hear it herself.  She might insist she is saying it correctly, but I have no proof.

Well, now I do.

This Google App is available on iPhones, iPads and I am sure lots of other devices.  Because of this, it means teachers can carry it around for students who are trying to pronounce something for immediate confirmation about whether what they are saying is said correctly or not.

All-in-all, I love the idea.  I hope to apply it through technology integration in classrooms, by carrying around a smart phone and pulling it out when the need is there.

Who says we should ban phones in schools?  With enough ingenuity there are plenty of authentic applications for them.  Now, if I can justify spending $15,000 for Microsoft’s MS Surface Table to the school, that would be neat.

 

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ICT integration at NIST

I am researching what ICT integration is and what it looks like.  While doing so I came across an interesting document from NIST that stated exactly what I was looking for:

What is ICT and what is ICT Integration?

ICT stands for Information and Communication Technology and is used as a term to describe all technologies that manipulate and communicate information. This term is the preferred term in education because ICT covers all digital equipment such as computers, camera’s, PDA’s, calculators, sounds recorders, mp3 players and all other digital equipment imaginable.

In the Elementary School at NIST Information and Communication Technology is part of the classroom experience and students use digital equipment on an almost daily basis. To make meaningful connections between the units of inquiry and ICT experiences, the ICT teachers work in close collaboration with the homeroom teachers. This way we can ensure students make connections between previously acquired concepts and we support them with their inquiries.

What are the underlining principles?

We believe that ICT is a catalyst for learning, promotes creativity, brings members of the community together, enhances understanding and gives people a voice. Below are some essential agreements about ICT in the elementary school:

  • Well integrated ICT into the classroom allows us to expand, broaden, and enhance all aspects of learning
  • The ICT department works in collaboration with the year level teams to make meaningful connections between classroom content and ICT activities
  • We believe that the ICT experience should be inquiry based and that there should be room for exploration and discovery

What does ICT Integration look like in practice?

The Elementary School is equipped with two computer labs and one drop-in lab that can support up to one full sized elementary class. Students in year 4, 5 and 6 have laptop carts available that can be used in the classrooms.

The Elementary ICT team works in collaboration with the different year levels to plan lessons and make meaningful connections to the units of inquiry. The ICT teachers are on a flexible timetable which gives room for flexibility and homeroom teachers can book us to assist in the classroom or for lessons in the computer labs.

Of course, I will be cross-referencing this with other sources when I find and add them here.

 

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New job title: Tech Integration Specialist

As many of my Concordian fellows know, I have come to a juncture in my road of education.  I will be leaving Thailand in order to move on to Turkey.  Doing so, I will also change job positions from a technology teacher for grades 6-10 in the MYP to a technology integration specialist for PYP.I look forward to the challenges it will bring working more closely with colleagues and getting back to the PYP.

One of my first jobs will be to gain to knowledge of many of the teachers I am working with right now.  I will send out a survey to see what kinds of things technologies they are implementing in their classrooms now.

I will also talk with people from my ISTEC group here in Thailand, possibly leading me to talking with other integration specialists from NIST and other schools.

A subsequent approach to formative learning in my new school will be to do the same with my new colleagues.  I am planning that it will prove positive in order to help guide my own working experience for the integration.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2011 in Education

 

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