St. Patrick School

Team Members: Patricia O’Donnell, Lori Anderson, Patti Keefer, Marian O’Brien, Sue Kennedy
Community: Archdiocese of Philadelphia Year 1, 2010-2011





The following are the issues we saw as our research problems:

  • Teachers are resistant and intimidated by the concept of incorporating technology in their classrooms.
  • Teachers need peer modeling to integrate technology across the curriculum. The traditional approach to instruction does not engage students in higher level thinking or prepare them to for the 21st century world.
  • Teachers need training and exposure to internet and technology tools that are available for use in the classroom.
  • Teachers need support in the use of technology in their classroom.

Our project was designed to address the above issues. How do we lead our teachers and students to be 21st digital citizens, engaged and committed to making technology an everyday part of our teaching across all grades?

Our team goals were to establish a team of lead teachers to model instructional use of Web 2.0 tools that would increase the use of technology in the classrooms of our school across all subjects and grade levels. We facilitated technology immersion by presenting workshops for the staff on a variety of Web 2.0 tools. We also had a technology forum for parents and parish members to demonstrate the integration of technology at our school. Finally, we built awareness of digital citizenship for our school and parish community.

To assess our accomplishment of our goals, we tracked the usage of Wikis we helped each member of the faculty create and implement in their classrooms.We kept track of how many posts were made weekly,and by whom they were getting used (students, parents, other), and whether or not each group had completed their assignment and reported their results, as well as three suggestions for future uses from each group. In addition, we sent out surveys on the use of technology to students, parents and teachers. We also used the TPack model to assess the impact on learning.

First, we had to address the issue of the limited avaiablitily and reliability of our technology resources. Among our hardware goals were the purchase and installation of 5 additional Smart boards and a new server, the acquisition of 54 tablet computers, 15 laptops, and 32 Netbooks; Refresing the existing computer lab, establishing a primary school computer lab, and populating two portable laptop carts. Next, in order to guide our fellow staff members learn about the application of Web 2.0 tools and utilize them in the classroom, we formed a Lead Teacher Team, which consisted of our PLP cohort members, who modeled, invited and supported use of Web 2.0 tools in the classroom for our fellow teachers and students. Some of our initial accompplishements were a collaborative Wiki on a Habitat with another school in Virginia Beach, skyping with relocated students in Switzerland, forming classroom wikis for literature discussions, completing a cross-grade, cross-curricular Presidential Wiki, creating a wiki resource for teachers to guide the implementation of Web 2.0 tools in the classroom. While the lead teacher team experimented with the use of these Web 2.0 tools, we shared our experiences with one another and fellow members of our faculty.

As a result, we were able to create a supportive and encouraging judgment free community of learners who learn from one another. In addition, we hosted a presentation for parish and school community on the integration of technology in our school featuring the following tools: interactive Math and Language Arts tools, multi-grade level Presidential Wiki, Discovery Education, a Virtual Frog Dissection, Google Earth, Movie Maker Commercials, and Polleverywhere

At the beginning of the year, we faced the daunting task of creating teacher buy-in for integrating technology across the curriculum. As it turned out, that was one of the easiest parts. Once we, the PLP team, started digging in and learning about some of the many resources available through technology, our enthusiasm became contagious. As we started talking to our colleagues about what we were doing and using the technology in our classrooms, teachers noted how excited the students became, and wanted to know how they could join in the fun. To celebrate this influx of technology we held a technology night for our parents and parish community. This night was a great success. Next, we had a workshop for our teachers on Wikispaces (see Why Technology Power Point and Video on team wiki page). The teachers found the presentation helpful and we have had 100% participation in a school-wide wiki project. Our culminating event will be at our next faculty meeting when teachers do a round table sharing of their wiki projects with one another. We have also created a teacher sharing website to collaborate with one another. This year of technology immersion has been the springboard to take risks with Web 2.0 tools. These powerful learning practices will help us embrace the new Core Curriculum State Standards. Power to the Peeps!
Surveys, slideshows, and other artifacts and documents can be downloaded from the team’s wiki page. Links to the parent and teacher surveys used are below:

Parent survey Teacher survey


About Action Research Projects

Action research is a process in which Powerful Learning Team members collaboratively examine their own educational practice systematically and carefully. Action research is:

  • Disciplined inquiry into a problem or possibility within the school or classroom
  • Collaborative and usually takes place in a community of practice
  • Meaningful, positive, and reflective
  • Data-driven, action-based, improvement-focused
  • Transformative
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Sheryl is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Powerful Learning Practice. She works with schools and districts from around the world helping them to infuse technology into their curriculums and by leading other digital conversion efforts. Sheryl also consults with governments, educational organizations and non-profits in development of their various professional learning initiatives. Sheryl is a sought-after presenter at national and international events, speaking on topics related to digital and online learning, teacher and educational leadership, online community building, and other educational issues impacting children of poverty. Sheryl served on the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Board of Directors for six years. She co-authored The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age with Lani Ritter Hall. Sheryl has four children and four grandsons, Luke, Logan, Levi and Tanner and a trio of dachshunds. You can find out more on her blog and on Twitter @snbeach.

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