Flexible scheduling for EdTech (Part 1)

Kimberly House

Kimberly House is the Educational Technology Specialist for the Primary School at the Bavarian International School

This is the first of a two-part article about integrating technology into the curriculum.

As EdTech specialists, our role within the PYP is to authentically integrate technology into the curriculum. In many schools, this means fitting these into weekly scheduled lab sessions and this can be frustrating. The students often do not finish projects during the unit, time for planning with teachers is limited and the balance between skills teaching and authentic integration becomes challenging.

Introducing a flexible schedule for the EdTech specialist and the lab (or IT facilities) can bring schools back to a more meaningful use of educational technology. The most important part of authentically integrating technology is collaborating with teachers. EdTech specialists know that, if this critical step is missed out, everything we do seems to be an add-on to the unit or stand-alone work. Freeing up the EdTech specialist means they have time to attend planning sessions to share ideas to enhance the units of inquiry with meaningful, authentic uses of technology.

A further recommendation would be to look at the ISTE Standards for Teachers and ISTE Standards for Coaches. Whether or not your school has adopted ISTE standards, these can be a good guideline and reminder that everyone is an educational technology teacher. It helps frame the conversation about how we are using technology and reinforces the role of the EdTech specialist as support for both teachers and students.

What does a flexible schedule look like?

Start by clearing the timetable and booking all grade level planning sessions. This will ensure the sharing of new ideas and finding ways for students to demonstrate learning. A key part of our role is to “engage in continual learning to deepen content and pedagogical knowledge in technology integration and current and emerging technologies.” (ISTE Standards Coaches, http://iste.org, ©2011) It is this knowledge that we bring to help teachers better integrate technology.

Kimberly House image1Each week I attend planning sessions. I am always there for the initial planning of a unit.

For future sessions, I check in ahead of time to see what the agenda is for the sessions that week to determine whether I need to be there or not. I do not always stay for the entire session, but I usually like to check-in once our initial planning is done.

As we begin planning a unit, I suggest ideas on how to integrate technology. These ideas determine how much of my time will be needed; for example, if the class wants to create public service announcements (PSA’s), then we book the time needed on laptops or in the lab to facilitate the video editing part of the project. This could mean that a class comes in for four consecutive periods in one day or it could mean they come in every day for a week. The timing is up to you and the teacher to determine and book accordingly.

We discuss with the teaching team what the needs of the project/unit of inquiry are and we decide who will be responsible for which pieces. In the PSA example, the class teachers are responsible for teaching the persuasive writing piece, the EdTech specialist might assist with the voice recording and the library media specialist would assist with sourcing appropriate copyright free photos. Finally, the EdTech specialist would assist the students in putting it all together using technology. All of these steps are clear to all participants and appropriate time can be booked to accommodate the project.

The key role of the EdTech specialist is to “guide and support teachers in an increasingly connected and global society so they can leverage the power of technology to engage students in their learning and help them develop digital age skills.” (ISTE Standards Coaches, http://www.iste.org/standards/standards-for-coaches, ©2014) If I am working with a class, it is important for the class teacher to be in the room as often they are learning with their students, thereby furthering their skills and increasing their confidence with technology. Co-teaching also supports the class teacher in utilizing the skills they already have whilst getting support from the EdTech specialist. Traditional lab timetables often mean that the teacher is not in the lesson and therefore not getting time to learn and further their skills.

Part 2 will be published next week.

Kimberly has been working at the Bavarian International School for the past 19 years. She started in the days when there was a donated PC lab and she stole time away to take primary students there with some CD Roms. She has been a part of the development of the technology programme from a class set of the old clamshell macs to a school that is now full of technology and brimming with students and teachers keen to utilise it.  For the past 3.5 years she has been leading the introduction of iPads into the primary school. Throughout all of the changes, developments and improvements in technology, the one thing that has remained the same is her passion for educational technology. Kimberly is an Apple Distinguished Educator and leads workshops around technology integration as well as consults with schools who are looking to further develop their technology programmes.

 

 

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5 Responses to Flexible scheduling for EdTech (Part 1)

  1. Hamish 27 May 2015 at 8:52 pm #

    Hi everyone, it’s my first visit at this website, and post is actually fruitful
    in support of me, keep up posting such posts.

  2. Sanjana 28 May 2015 at 5:56 pm #

    Hi Kimberly,

    The article gives a good insight on focusing on the planning of the tech sessions. Can you share some more examples in detail on integration with a particular central idea especially on how the collaboration meetings were conducted.

    • Kimberly House 24 June 2015 at 12:25 pm #

      Hello Sanjana,

      Our grade level teams have collaborative planning time with the PYP coordinator for 90 minutes each week. These are the sessions that I attend. A recent example is our Grade 4 unit ‘Limited World’ under the transdisciplinary theme, “Sharing the Planet’. For this unit, one of the language focuses is on persuasive writing. The students research a limited resource of their choice. They then write a persuasive speech convincing others to conserve this resource. All of this is done in class. The students take their piece of writing and begin to highlight key words in the writing. They find pictures (copyright free of course) to match with their keywords. We use these images in an iMovie public service announcement. The students add the photos and record themselves reading their writing. To finish it off they add in music and title text to the movie. Students use a rubric to self assess their final movie. The rubric is designed in conjunction with the classroom teachers and myself. Students also peer assess each other’s videos. At the end, each student puts their video up onto their student blog to share.
      In terms of the collaboration, I planned this out with the class teachers. The class teachers are always with me in the lesson when the students are working on the videos. They ran the lessons on using keywords to search for images. I ran the tech lessons on using iMovie–but the teacher was there as well.
      It’s about finding authentic opportunities to use the technology and not making it an added on extra.

  3. Lillian Murillo 15 June 2015 at 6:15 pm #

    Dear Kimberly,

    I would like to thank you for sharing your experience and ideas about ICT specialist.

    While I was reading I was reflecting about the school I work for and the necessary adjustments that we are welling to do related to ICT. Your post made me to rethink about it, however I feel I lack of experience about and I would like to know if could be possible to have a videoconfence to speak about my concerns.

    Some of them are:

    What kind of resource or tool do you use or recommend for teachers’ booking computers’ lab? (Google calendar?)

    Why do you suggest ISTE Standards for teachers and coaches?

    Do you know another one for sequence of scope? Do you use IB subject sequence of scope for ICT?

    How do you do co-teaching?

    How do you work on ICT policy? any recommendation?

    Do you mind sharing some reference book or links for this great suggest that you just share?

    Kimberly,

    I would appreciate all kind of help you can offer to improve ICT on our school.

    Thank you

    Lillian Murillo
    Mexico City

    • Kimberly House 24 June 2015 at 5:48 pm #

      Hello Lilian,

      In terms of booking a computer lab, we have an internal system. To book me, teachers use a YouCanBookMe (https://youcanbook.me/) set up by me. This way they can see my schedule and book times for themselves or for their class. This has really worked well for everyone.

      I’ve suggested the ISTE Standards for students, teachers and coaches because they widely accepted and give everyone a foundation to start from in terms of expectations. The most important thing is that it makes it clear that every teacher is a technology teacher. My role is to support them and guide them. The standards for students have informed our scope and sequence. The standards for teachers are part of our teacher appraisal system. The standards for coaches provided an outline for my job description.

      There is no IB scope and sequence for technology. We took the ISTE standards and then added to them to create our curriculum. The ISTE standards for students make up the larger themes under which we have more specific skills.

      Co-teaching is done however the situation suits. For instance, if I’m teaching the kids iMovie, then I do the main teaching and the class teacher supports. If I’m working with groups in the classroom on iPads, then the teacher and I might meet before hand to talk about what they want to do. Often I work out a workflow for a project and we decide who is doing what.

      I’m not sure what you mean by ICT policy. Are you referring to device usage and a user agreement? Or more like a 3 or 5 year plan for implementation?

      I’ve found this to be a reliable booklist:
      edtechdigest.wordpress.com/lists/top-25-edtech-books/

      I hope this answered your questions! Thanks! Kim

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