Knowledge and Skills B4 Tech

When I first started to integrate tech into my lesson planning, and I am talking many moons ago here, I was definitely more focussed on the tech, than I was the students, or the learning targets. I think in many instances this is why the impact that I may have been looking for did not take place. When I think back, part of this was due to the fact that I was a newer teacher and there is a tendency to want to be progressive and bring new things to the classroom, without always thinking it fully through. In addition, being new, there was a lack of that deep knowledge of standards and learning targets. The other part was if I thought I had found some great new tech tool, at least in my mind, I would jump in right away. Sometimes it is best to seek out the advice of others before jumping into something new. I think the below meme represents where I used to be 🙂

When I look at the way I plan technology integration currently, it is completely different. I know that my time working in curriculum had a profound effect on how I approach my work now, and this is a great thing. As Kim Cofino mentions in her article 3 Steps to Transforming Learning in Your Classroom, it has to start with what you want a student to know and be able to do, what are your learning targets? I quite like that this was labelled as step zero, because this should be the basis, the foundation, before you even speak the words technology.

At this stage, two other things that I like to consider are the SAMR model and the TPACK model. You can see the SAMR on Kim’s Blog post, I have included the TPACK model below.

These two models help me with planning purposes and keeping me on the right track. If you are unfamiliar with them, I highly suggest reviewing them before beginning to embed technology into your unit planning.

Last year I had the opportunity to attend the Unplugged Conference at the American School of Bombay.  There, I attended a session by Dr. Ruben Peuntedura, the creator of the SAMR model. Here are a couple of my key takeaways from his session:

  • The most challenging stage is to move from Augmentation to Modification
  • SAMR Ladder – Take a unit of study and start with substitution and move along towards Redefinition – One does not need to move all the way to Redefinition, a new teacher to the technology can stop at a point that makes them comfortable
  • The research tells us that the SAMR model works (exponential pay off as we move along the ladder), it is vital to provide the time for teachers to do the work.  It will be work to learn and implement the technology, but we have to support them to do so
  • To do the best design with the SAMR model, it is important to consider the TPACK model at the same time
  • Authentic audiences drive students to perform better, the research supports this.  Additionally, authentic mentorship combined with an authentic audience drives this further

If you are looking for some of the research that he mentions above, or looking to delve deeper into the SAMR model, Ruben’s blog is a great place to do some research:

There is a great article on the blog, entitled SAMR and the EdTech Quintet, which speaks to integration of the model with TPACK, the EdTech Quintet, and other models, plus it includes research on the positive impact of using the SAMR model.

After I consider those models, then I select the tech. This is where having some experience, a good network, and being a connected educator come into play.  We all know there are too many tools in existence for us to keep up with all of them. However, through our network and connections we can conduct the research that we would like. And of course this is only in consultation with the teacher, as I want to make sure their students are ready(and the teacher too), and the students have the prior skills to allow for success. Of course we may have to push them out of their comfort zones, but we want to ensure we have them set for a positive experience and growth. From our readings I also like the Teach Thought article on 15 Questions To Ask About Tech Integration in your Classroom.  These make for some solid reflection before heading into the classroom with your tech.

Kim’s other steps include using real world tasks and utilizing an authentic audience. These are two steps which are highly valuable and help to motivate students.  As Dr. Peuntedura mentions above, authentic audiences help to drive students, and even more so when coupled with authentic mentorship. I’m also a big proponent of Project Based Learning, which is a model that supports authentic tasks, and authentic audiences.

I came across the video below when searching for embedding technology into the classroom.  A couple of important points that Khan makes. Firstly, he states himself, that the technology is a tool, not the primary, a tool to complement what is happening in the physical classroom.  Second, he speaks about personalized learning, students learning at their own pace, and learning about what interests them. Again, no mention of tech, but students first. It’s a short video and worth the watch.

This week especially, I am really curious to hear how others go about embedding technology into their classrooms. What do your processes look like?