Who are we?
In mid-August I joined my district’s Instructional Technology(IT) Team. There are five other coaches, an assistant director and director. Between the 8 of us we support 3 High Schools, 5 Middle Schools, 17 Elementary Schools, support programs, curriculum and central administration. Numbers-wise that is 19,000+ students and the staff that facilitate student learning.
Our team is in many ways still in its infancy. Forging an identity, both individually and as a team, seemed a natural and important step. What I am realizing now is HOW important the identity we were giving ourselves and our team was.
We are a creative bunch of IT coaches. It is amazing how we complement each other and our individual strengths truly make the team the best instructional team in the district. But this didn’t just happen because we are individually amazing. We had a vision, a focus and a goal. Our intent was to change the perception of what we are to teachers and students and begin establishing our role in relationship to sound quality instruction.
How did this happen?
Through the process of our roll out #LessonCrashers.
Here is the sequence of events:
1. Collective brainstorming. What would happen if we took a teacher and a lesson with difficult content (engagement/motivation wise) and “crash it.” Much like HGTV’s “Bath Crashers” or “Yard Crashers.”
2. Logistics: How we would roll out this idea and be the vehicle for changing how IT was perceived not just in our district but across education.
3. Promotion: We filmed a “promo” Anchorman-style to gain traction and encourage teachers to submit a lesson to be crashed. Through email, word of mouth and Twitter got the word out to submit a lesson to be crashed. We also designated two of our district #nisdnov8 chat nights to the topic (which garnered interest beyond our district).
5. Selection: Using Google Forms for submissions and video the IT team selected our first crash.
6. Planning: We met with the teacher, collaborated on ways to deliver content, created a menu of applications for students to create product, designed a rubric, and provided a way for the products to be shared and viewed by students.
7. Implementation: With a plan in place the IT team supported the teacher through the entire process.
8. Student Product/Result: A gallery walk of product that students accessed through Aurasma including a quick assessment for each product. All student created.
9. Reflection: There were several benefits, but the top three were:
1) 100% student engagement
2) student product reflecting deeper levels of learning
3) the teacher embraced without apprehension students experiencing and exploring technology without the need for the teacher to be an expert with technology tools
What were the results?
We realize this journey with #LessonCrashers has caused a mind shift among teachers and administration on how they perceive the use of technology from an instructional standpoint as well as how they perceive our role in the district. Since this first crash, each member of the team has “mini-crashed” other teachers and departments. Most recently the IT team crashed a Middle School Staff Development.
Why is this important?
With our first classroom “crash” it was with a well-respected, experienced, department chair. Her first thought once we did this was “How can I share with others?” DING, DING, DING!
With our “mini-crashes” many are not asking for a tool to use anymore but are starting with the standards and consulting IT Team about the different choices students can use to create to deliver deep meaningful content. DING, DING, DING!
With our Staff Development crash we used two tools and multiple devices in a 45 minute time span. Results… the realization that technology integration does not have to be a huge time consuming event AND most used the two tools modeled THAT DAY in their classrooms! DING, DING, DING!
What are our next steps?
We continue to seek opportunities and are sought out to provide “crash” experiences. We have developed systems and supports for teachers to take the reins and do for themselves what we have facilitated through #LessonCrashers. We have created a wealth of resources on our moodle called NetSchool including an online Technology Integration Course that is constantly changing, just like the technology tools. It changes so much we have even wondered if it is a course that should be encouraged to be revisited every few years to facilitate teachers continual sharpening of their skills.
I am excited how this “idea” called #LessonCrashers has redefined the role of the Instructional Technology Coach. #LessonCrashers was the vehicle for something bigger. It’s been just a few months in this position and on this team and the change is palatable. Where this is going is bigger than this district. It’s a vision and change that’s purposed to serve all learners. It’s a ride I am glad to be not just a passenger on but a navigator and pioneer into the 22nd century of education.
This is how our IT Team is evolving. This is how our IT Team is redefining Instructional Technology. Please share how Instructional Technology is changing the face of instruction and student product in your district, campus and classroom.