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.
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.