Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Discover It!

One of the biggest teacher complaints about technology roll out and integration is lack of training.  I'll be honest...there is a part of me that finds this to be an excuse to not use technology.  It also disheartens me to hear someone say this because I wonder how we are to inspire a passion for learning if we don't model this ourselves; particularly with things we are unfamiliar with.  Know that I am not completely heartless.  I have done some thinking about why technology isn't being embraced by more teachers on a more regular basis.

When I have a material and/or tool that I think my students will find beneficial in their learning, one that has multiple ways to use it, I use a Responsive Classroom® practice called Guided Discovery.  You may remember me talking about this practice in a previous post about the app Talking Tom, but I'm going to briefly explain it here. I provide them with a tool, name it, and give them a few minutes to explore it.  After exploring it, I invite them to share their discoveries with each other; creating a collective knowledge of how to use the tool.  After sharing, I provide them with an opportunity to test out their newly acquired knowledge.  Because of the Guided Discovery they are not only able to use their own discoveries, but those of their classmates as well.

How do I see Guided Discovery being utilized with teacher technology training?  Let's pretend that your school just received a new iPad cart (or iPad for each student).  It is obviously important that students use the devices and in doing so you know how important it is that the teachers are comfortable with the device as well.  It is their degree of comfort that will ensure the devices being put into the hands of students and successfully integrated into the curriculum.  Knowing all of this, you decide to use a faculty meeting or school - wide professional development to introduce the iPads to teachers.

First, I would use a Responsive Classroom® practice called Interactive Modeling, to show the group how to turn the device on and unlock the screen.  Once everyone was on an unlocked screen, I would let them know why the iPads were purchased and give them 3 - 5 minutes to explore them.  Because a variety of apps would already be on the devices this would provide a great deal of choice for the teachers to choose from.  After sharing I am anticipating and/or guiding a few discoveries: 
  • opening and closing apps (which may include switching between apps)
  • moving between screens
  • pressing and holding an app
  • opening and closing app folders
  • how to use a few apps
The process of sharing out the discoveries will not only create a collective knowledge, but establish a community of learners and experts.  Sue may quickly become the expert for Notes while Jeremy may quickly becoming the expert for switching between apps.  

Next, I would want to give the group an opportunity to apply this newly discovered knowledge.  I imagine that the iPads would have an array of apps loaded on to them.  There are a few ways I may use Guided Discovery if this were the case. 
  1. Have everyone explore the same app.  This may be beneficial if the app is particularly complex or layered, or if it is one that I would want used in every classroom by every child.
  2. Have everyone explore the same screen or folder of apps, but have each person/partnership sign up to explore one of the apps housed on that screen or folder.
  3. Assign one of the multiple screens or folders to a group: one table could explore screen 2, while another table explores screen 3, and another screen 4. 
I could see this happening in one session or over a period of sessions.  It just depends on the time you have, your preference, and what you know about your staff at that current point in time.  

Once the staff have explored an app I would immediately give them an opportunity to apply their discoveries.  If I was in a workshop model school I may have them use an app to create something that shares their knowledge of workshop.  If I was in a school that just redefined their mission and/or goals, I may have them use an app to explain them in a student and/or parent friendly way.  My goal would be to not only provide them with further opportunity to deepen their knowledge of the iPad / app, but also to model for them a way to integrate it into their classrooms.  After creating, I would use either a partner share, small group share, or gallery walk to see what an end result could look like.  

This process could be used with any technology, not just iPads, but laptops/netbooks, Web 2.0 tools, new curriculum programs/resources, and more.  In the end, I would want my staff feeling comfortable enough with the technology to integrate it into their instruction.  If they still feel hesitant, I would want them to understand that they are not in it alone; they have a group of supportive colleagues (including me) who are ready and available to help them.