Lancaster Mennonite School – Kraybill Campus

Team Members: Val Garton, Keri Hurst, Gena Fisher, Heidi Steffen

Community: IU-13 Year 1, 2010-2011

Our project is focused on Professional Development. Through observation, interviews, and a survey, we found that most teachers were not having students use emerging technologies. We realized several barriers to learning and using these technologies and how teachers felt they would best be able to integrate technology in their lessons. To overcome these barriers and get teachers excited about using emerging technologies, our system would need to change the way technology professional development sessions are done. In our project, we tried running tech PD sessions the way the teachers said would be more effective. We are proposing that our school continue to do them this way throughout the year. As part of the new focus on tech PD we have created a shared google doc of workshop topics and a wiki of technology resources for teachers. We continue to meet with our curriculum director and asst. superintendent to process and implement and evaluate these changes.

We had an idea that teachers were not using the “newer” technologies, even though it seemed like they weren’t necessarily opposed to using technology. We took a survey to verify what we had observed. In the survey, we also asked teachers what they felt were the barriers that kept them from using technology and what they felt would help them use it more. The survey showed “not enough time” and “lack of ideas” as the top barriers. From the survey comments, we concluded that we needed to provide workshops during already scheduled staff development, do it in small chunks, make it purposeful – giving examples from within the context of the curriculum, do several sessions on the same topic, provide time to “play”, do it by department and grade level, have teachers teach each other. We asked our administrators for chances to try out our ideas during staff development sessions throughout the year. We were thrilled with the positive responses of the teachers and the progress they were making. We have been meeting with administration and plan to provide these types of tech staff development sessions often throughout the year. It is our hope that as teachers teach each other in these sessions and have time to work with the tools and share ideas, that a new excitement will emerge for using technology and this type of interaction will become a regular part of all staffdevelopment times.

Problem/Issue: Most of our teachers are not changing the way they use technology with their students to take advantage of the tools and opportunities for creation, communication, and collaboration. Many of those who use technology are stuck having students research a topic and put it in Word or PowerPoint, using their Smart Board as a blackboard, and using a wiki to post homework assignments.

Through observation and a system-wide survey of staff, we concluded four things:

1) that technology was being used by teachers more for teaching, rather than having students involved in using technology.

2) When students were involved, they used it more for PowerPoint, Word, and researching on the Internet, than collaborating, creating, and connecting using emerging technologies.

3) The main barrier teachers gave for not learning about and using emerging technologies with their students was lack of time, followed by not enough ideas, also stressing that if they were not required to use it, they wouldn’t.

4) Teachers preferred learning about emerging technologies during already scheduled staff and collaborative meetings, followed by during the summer, rather than optional after-school workshops, which is when it is typically done.

Possibility: Because of our findings, we are proposing to administration to provide ongoing opportunities during our monthly collaborative meetings and staff meetings for teachers to lead sessions on integrating technology. We are proposing that the sessions be divided by grade level or department, led by teachers, shown within the context of the curriculum, and presented in small chunks. We propose that follow-up sessions are provided with sufficient time to “play” with the tools and develop them to use in the classroom. A shared google doc will show possible workshop topics, teachers who can lead them, and areas of application. A system wiki has been started as a resource for teachers and place for sharing ideas.

Objective: By changing the way we do Technology Professional Development, we hope to overcome the barriers cited by teachers to be able to use technology more effectively, generating a new excitement for using technology.

Assessment: We will form a group of teachers who will go through ongoing tech PD the way we are proposing. We will survey them before they start and throughout the year to see if their use of technology and excitement about it has improved. We will present these findings to administration as a reason to continue this type of PD and do it more widespread each year.

– Discussed, brainstormed as a team, what we saw as the major “problems” in our school regarding tech use with students.

– Conducted survey, informal interviews, observations.

– Discussed the results of our findings as a team.

– Did more informal interviews to confirm our views.

– Asked administration for opportunities to “try out” our “new” way of doing tech staff development.

– Met with Director of curriculum to ask if having ongoing tech PD was a possibility.

– Kept administration in the loop by meeting with them regarding our work and ideas.

– Kept teachers in the loop by presenting a ppt about new technologies and sharing the results of the survey.

– Encouraged opportunities for teachers to teach others to share their area of expertise and develop technology leaders throughout the system.

– Created videos to show admin/teachers to get our point across: How we are listening to our teachers to see the barriers and solutions; and listening to teachers and students to see the possibilities of using emerging technologies.

– Invited our assistant superintendent and director of curriculum to the PLP culmination event, so they could hear the possibilities from both tech leaders and other schools to help them buy into the idea.

– Next year, hopefully do this new tech PD more widespread and throughout the year.

– Next year, focus on one particular group of teachers to intentionally practice the new PD, following their change throughout the year with surveys and interviews to gather data to present to administration on its effectiveness.

– Next year, start another team of teachers in PLP to help spread the word on the shift in education and learning potential of using emerging technologies.

– The following year, implement this new tech PD throughout the whole system.

We are excited about the potential of this project and the results we are seeing already! We are also encouraged by the response of the staff and administration. Many teachers are starting to see the importance of making the shift and are glad to have their views about Tech PD taken seriously. We are currently having conversation with administration about how to schedule these staff development sessions.
Please see our KMS-PLP wiki for all artifacts, videos, google docs, meeting notes, documentation, etc.
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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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