Sunday, December 8, 2013

School Evaluation Summary

MTI Elementary Technology Plan Summary

As many of you know, I have taken a leave of absence from MTI Elementary for graduate studies.  I still felt that I could complete this project due to having been on the School Improvement Committee for a number of years, having been the technology resource teacher for a few years as well, and contacting a few friends that still work there to get some up to date data.  A teacher that is currently on the school improvement plan and I reviewed MTI using the Maturity Benchmark Survey together and concurred on each section and sub-section.

The were a few surprises on this survey.  One surprise was, I did not realize that the district had posted their technology plan until I looked.  It was very comprehensive. Another surprise, even with a yearly survey to the teachers, it surprised me how little input the teachers and staff that work with students have on what apps/technology equipment are chosen. 

I expected MTI Elementary to be either in the island or integrated stage.   The survey showed that is is in the island stage.  At the beginning of the semester I would have consider MTI more integrated; but, after studying the different technology plans and articles I realized most of the teachers at MTI use technology as lesson enhancers and not as an integral part of the curriculum.  This is partly due to all decisions about technlolgy coming from the district staff.  Also, the lack of in-depth training of new technologies, whether they be small devices or applications, continues to strengthen many teachers dislike of change.

This survey confirms to me that the way public education is administered needs to change dramatically if we are going to assist students in learning 21st century skills. 

Below is MTI Elementary's Survey and Evaluation
MTI Elementary Survey

MTI Elementary Evaluation

Monday, December 2, 2013

Technology Use Planning Overview

Effective Technology Planning- 

1. A definition of technology use planning.
     Technology use planning in a school or school system is a multi-part process.  A committee of interested, knowledgeable, and  responsible teachers, technology staff,  and administrators would be needed to begin the planning.  The planning would involve reviewing current technology practices in the school/school system.  The review would include an inventory of current equipment, if it is being used, how often, and in what context is it used.  The review would also include what applications are being used regularly and if they are thought to be effective by the teachers and students using them. 

     Next, the committee would interview teachers and students for subjective ideas of what types of technology would be useful to help student learning.  While the interviews are going on, committee members would also be responsible for researching different areas of technology (equipment and apps) that would be useful in the classroom.  Each member would then bring back to the committee their recommendations based on interviews and research.  

    Then the committee could make a flexible 2-3 year plan.  The plan would include purchasing of new equipment and apps to be used with students and teachers, and ongoing intensive professional development for teachers to be introduced and immersed in the technologies that would benefit their classrooms.  Please notice that the equipment, apps, and professional development would be flexible in that it would fit the needs of the classroom/students.  An example would be the third grade classrooms have computer stations while the fourth grade has tablets, and the fifth grade wing has a 3-D printer.

    Technology use planning should be ongoing and have an open communication pattern between the committee members and all teachers.  This would increase the successful use of the technology in the school/school system.  

2. The new National Education Technology Plan 2010 as an effective tool in planning.
    The NET Plan 2010, if used in technology use planning, can be a very effective tool.  It covers learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure, and productivity. The scope of the plan is nationwide and has some high aspirations for our nation's education- such as reshaping our definition of a classroom, making sure that every student and teacher has access to technology at school and home, and using learning analytics during a student's education lifetime to help them be successful.

   This overall plan has some wonderful concepts that could change education to be more meaningful and student centered.  So using this plan as a reference in technology use planning makes sense.  Each state school system will have to look at its resources to decide when implementation of different parts can be made.  Common Core seems to have made strides in many states, which begins to address the learning section of the NET plan 2010. The assessment section, using learning analytics plan, will be a complex challenge because, for it to be truly effective, it needs to be nationwide while protecting each student's information.  The teaching section, one of the most important models, should be a placed in technology plans immediately.  The professional development suggested in the plan would be instrumental in creating a successful technology infused learning environment.  Finally, the infrastructure and productivity, models will be changing to incorporate the 24/7 style of learning that is suggested in the NET plan 2010.  

    One of the benefits of using this plan as a basis for state/county/school wide technology use planning is that it should make it easier to find grants and donations to fund these changes

3.  John See's Paper on Technology Plans
     John See wrote a paper that covers what effective technology planning should do.  I found it to be full of common sense and practical. I agree with the premise that technology planning should be short term, no longer than 2 years.  His argument that technology is changing so fast that anything longer than that may be obsolete within 2-5 years is practical.

4. & 5. Technology plans should focus more on apps than equipment.
     I agree with this statement.  Mr. See's statement "It may be better to go to your school board saying this is what we want our students to be able to do-output.  Then tell them what technology you need in order to accomplish your goals ...", is right on.    It is the output, what students are learning, that is important.  Having a I Pads in a classroom with only games on it will not help a student who is struggling in math and reading.  It will not propel a high achieving student to grasp higher concepts in those subjects. 
    Technological equipment is changing at a fast rate, however with budget constraints and age appropriate needs, older equipment can be used effectively as long as the apps within that equipment are appropriate and the equipment can handle the apps size and programming needs.  As students mature so can the equipment. It is really important to have apps that enhance student learning and it makes sense to place more of a budget in this ever-improving type of technology.

6. My experiences with technology planning.

     At one point in my career at my Title One Elementary School, I was the co-chairperson for the school improvement committee and the technology representative for our school.  During that time, the committee made technology equipment a priority.  The school board made the decisions for apps at that time, so we did not have much say about what was on the computers.  Our school went from having a just a teacher computer to having 6 computers for student use in each classroom, several teachers applied for and received technology kits that included interactive equipment and Smartboards.  Each teacher got LCD projectors and a document camera.  Each group of 3 teachers shared a printer to help with quick copying or finally printing student work. The school got two sets of laptops that could be used by a whole class at one time.

   Many of these improvements were helpful.  They all came with challenges.  The committee had to actively budget for LCD projector bulbs and printing cartridges.  Teachers used the equipment like overhead projectors.  Some teachers used the printers to print whole sets of worksheets (it was for lesson plans and example worksheets) so they used their limit of ink before the year was out.  Some teachers did not let the students use the computers, or only used the computers for games at recess.  The teachers that got technology kits from the school board had to deal with some jealousy issues.  There was not enough wi-fi strength for the laptops to work  all at once.

    Even with these challenges, the improvements were successful.  Many teachers started to used the document camera, LCD projector, and computer as a teaching tool- incorporating videos, board approve apps, and websites to enhance learning.  The students finally had opportunities to use computers regularly in classrooms.  The computer lab was used by all grade levels so the whole class could create a project or do research at the same time.  A signal tower was built on the school property to assist with wi-fi strength.