IU-13 Early Childhood and Special Education Services

Team Members: Barbara Chubb, Nadine Hart, Teresa Fleming, Christine Brooks-Taitt,
Community: IU-13 Year 1, 2010-2011

Our team attempted to align specific sections of the PA Academic Standards with the NETS and give examples and/or suggestions for how the use of technology and 21st century skills can be integrated with the learning of academic competencies. It is our hypothesis that the use of technology with standards-aligned learning activities will serve to increase student engagement, promote the use of higher level thinking, and increase students’ digital and information literacy.
On each separate page, you will find a listing of specific competencies from the PA Standards Aligned System from our state Department of Education along with searchable topics, grade levels, and examples (and/or links) of classroom activities that could be used to enhance teaching and learning. It is anticipated that technology is being used in conjunction with higher level questioning and the integration of 21st century skills and national technology standards where appropriate.


  1. PA has academic standards that are required learning for all students. In addition, those of us promoting 21st century learning and technology literacy look to the National Educational Technology Standards for guidance in setting benchmarks for students’ and teachers’ use of technology to promote creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking. Both sets of expectations, i.e. standards, are important in preparing our students to be contributing members of a global society, powered by technology. However, anyone who is or has been a teacher knows there is no more time in the school day, nor would it be “best practice” to add more content, more assessments, or more class periods to teach 21st century skills in isolation. Therefore, how do we expect schools to focus on both sets of standards?
  2. Some teachers currently use technology to create learning materials and to present academic content to their students. However, the ultimate goal for 21st century learning is to have students creating their own materials, guiding their own learning and sharing new information with others.
  3. As would be the case in learning any new instructional methods, teachers, who are new to 21st century learning, need guided practice on how to engage learners via technology and how to facilitate the use of higher level thinking skills that will allow students to create and demonstrate knowledge of required content (as outlined in the PA Academic Standards).

Research Question: Is it realistic and useful in promoting 21st century learning to align the required PA Standards with NETS and show peers examples of how the two sets of standards can be integrated?

  1. To investigate how specific PA Academic Standards can be aligned with National Educational Tech Standards. Evidence: We will compare 3-5th grade competencies in reading comprehension and in social skills with the 3-5th grade ed tech standards.
  2. To provide examples of standards-aligned lessons that use technology as a tool and require students to use 21st century skills. Evidence: We will research web 2.0 tools that lend themselves to each competency and provide an example of tech integration for each academic competency.
  3. To design a web-based tool that will allow us to share our ideas with colleagues and for our colleagues to expand the content. Evidence: Google Site for Project.
  1. Use the PDE website to find academic standards for the 3-5 grade bands.
  2. Familiarize ourselves with NETS for Students and NETS Profiles specific to grade bands.
  3. Discuss usefulness of our project (aligning standards and suggesting 21st century tools) to others and to ourselves.
  4. Agree on project focus and discuss our end product: How will we document and share our work, consider purposes, functionality, “shareability”.
  5. Create a wiki in Google Sites with the file cabinet template so data can be sorted and searched by users. their work to the wiki.
  6. Narrow our area of focus (reading comprehension and social skills, grades 3-5 as a starting point).
  7. Decide which part of the academic standards is most comparable to the NETS for alignment.
  8. Populate the wiki with standards and competencies.
  9. Research tech-integrated lesson ideas and web-based tools that show how students can use technology to demonstrate their understanding of academic content.
  10. Create examples of student-created products and link to standards.
  11. Populate wiki with tech tutorials so users learn how-to use the various tools in our examples.
  12. Create a process to evaluate and to get feedback about the wiki.
  13. Share our work with others.
  14. Use the wiki as the focal point for PD across our programs, giving teachers time to explore the examples, providing guided practice to create their own lessons, and showing them how to upload

Actions to date:

Our team has completed Steps 1-12 of our implementation plan.

  • A wiki has been created in Google Sites that shows alignment and examples of what students might do to demonstrate both the academic competency and the tech standard in our targeted curricular areas (reading and social skills, grades 3-5).
  • We added a survey to the wiki to solicit feedback from viewers on the usefulness of the wiki for others.

Next Steps:

  1. Convince other ECSES leaders to allow us to share our work with teaching staff during the August in-service days next school year.
  2. Develop a “roll-out” plan for our wiki to systematically make colleagues aware of the resource, how to use it in their planning, and to invite them to contribute.
  3. Use the data (from the wiki survey) to improve the wiki’s content and functionality and determine need for further PD in ECSES.
  4. Coordinate our efforts and purposes with the other IU 13 PLP teams, via supervisor and tech team meetings, to share projects: determine overlap across teams, areas for future collaboration, and ways to share our PLP information with others in ECSES.

Lessons learned:

  1. The amount of information that could be generated with this project will outgrow the limits of Google sites. We need another web-based tool that can house large amounts of data; it may need to be a paid subscription. We need to keep looking for a different tool before we launch.
  2. Team members discovered many new tools and generated ideas for classroom applications.


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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