Archive for the 'LoTI' Category

Take note! One point for Public Schools…

Friday, April 28th, 2006

Irving ISD is not an affluent district. We are, in fact, an entirely title 1 district and a really neat place to work. We’re an urban organization with over 33,000 students in our system. On top of that, all of our high school students have laptops along with one middle school and one elementary school that are 1:1. Our community and leadership has simply committed to a 1:1 program.

North Hills is a private, and prestigious, prep school here in Irving. You may be aware of the push towards privatization of education, and North Hills would typically be considered a ‘better’ environment by those who support the concept of privatization. If you are not aware of this, it is time to read.

Sebastian Bozas, principal at de Zavala Middle School (the middle school that is 1:1), reported earlier this week that he received an email from a parent stating that her daughter had been accepted into North Hills, but had been debating whether or not to go to de Zavala despite the ‘opportunity’ to attend a more prestigious prep school. Public schools won out - Mr. Bozas continued by telling us that the daughter had decided to attend Irving Public Schools!! What a smile that put on our faces!

Now, and this is important, I am sure it is NOT the fact that de Zavala has computers that influenced this student’s decision - it IS the fact that de Zavala teachers have embraced teaching with technology and that they have a leadership that pushes them to shift towards teaching at a higher LoTI level and higher thinking levels. Again, it is not the computer that is the independent variable in this equation, it is the quality of instruction and what is possible when technology is available as a tool within a better instructional environment.

Lovin’ it - this is where the left lane ends…

Inspired Classrooms - a 1:1 alternative?

Thursday, February 16th, 2006

INspired Teaming

So, about 5-6 years ago, I started brewing this idea of how to use computers more effectively in my 4th grade classroom. Seeing a picture of a classroom setup of Paula Barnard’s classroom (a 4th grade teacher in Washington State) triggered me to start exploring the potential of students having access to computers throughout the day. Just as my excitement for my new classroom design (and how I was going to implement it at the beginning of the following year) was peaking, I moved out of the classroom and into a campus instructional technology position. But - that didn’t stop me from pressing forward. I found an eager teacher at my new campus who shared the same enthusiasm for this new design, and INspired Teaming was born. The whole premise for designing a classroom this way was to move the computers off of the wall (where they typically sat in a nice neat row), and in front of the students where they could use them throughout the day.

I put together an 8 minute video at least 4 years ago, so feel free to take a look at how the classroom design got started: VideoInspired Classrooms

You might be asking yourself ‘why are you bringing this up, Jerram, 6 years down the road?’. Well, the answer is that while we have seen a number of classrooms (mainly elementary) move forward with this physical setup, the tools have changed drastically in the past couple of years.

Darren Wilson, Instructional Technology Specialist at Hanes Elementary is bringing new life to this concept. While he is working with teachers to provide the necessary hardware for setting up the classroom environment (Inspired Classrooms!), he has also setup an Inspired Classroom Wiki to share the design.

While this blog entry is simply designed to introduce the concept, I would (and probably will in the near future) argue that this setup is close to being as effective as a 1:1 laptop environment. You see, what we have discovered in our 1:1 laptop program (and it makes perfect sense) is that it comes down to how you teach, not whether you have a computer or not. (This is backed up by the LoTI concept that we are working hard to bring to the fore of our 1:1 program.)

Inspired Classrooms prime the learning environment for a teacher that already knows how to engage students. I love the word ‘prime’. I always think about our 2-cycle Lawn Boy mower that I grew up with (with a 22″ deck), mowing 2 acres of grass every third week of the summer. I had to push that white, rubbery priming button to inject gas into the engine so that when I pulled the starter cord it would fire to life. THAT is how I think about technology. Just imagine what happens when we prime a good teacher with the right tools! I can picture them roaring to life in their classroom…somewhere out there where the left lane ends.

The importance of dialogue and a reflective practice within teaching

Friday, January 27th, 2006

In our LoTI session this morning, Sebastian Bozas (Middle School Principal of a One-to-One laptop school) noted more than once that we are falling short if we do not provide opportunities for techers to dialogue in a meaningful way about the content of their instruction. We briefly discussed how LoTI can provide a framework for this dialogue, develop a common language (so we do not argue in place of dialoguing) and move toward a more reflective practice of teaching on campus.

Mr. Bozas has truly pushed for this environment at de Zavala Middle School by creating half day periods for his teams of teachers to reflect on what they are doing in their rooms. Interestingly enough, the technology (despite its invaluable place in his school) is not the primary focus - instruction is.

I’ll be interviewing Mr. Bozas next Tuesday about what he sees happening with one-to-one instruction as he has developed this practice with his teachers. Stay tuned for the first podcast…

We’re just searching for where the left lane ends…

LoTI

Friday, January 27th, 2006

We’re doing LoTI (Levels of Technology Implementation) Training. A large group of our ITS crew (Instructional Technology Specialists) are going through a LoTI trainer certification, mainly in an effort to broaden our knowledge systematically, as well as develop a common language as a professional learning community.So what is LoTI all about? Technology integration, right? Wrong. Sort of. We can NOT say that the technology is not important. It absolutley is - it is critical. Often times, however, we put too much focus on the technology itself. This is the key strength of the LoTI framework. It focuses on Bloom’s taxonomy, which directs us back to the value of the lesson and places the emphasis on content (and engagement, in my opinion). David Warlick says in a blog post entitled Contemporary Literacy: Who & When:

It’s confusing that this discussion usually happens among technology educators within the context of technology considerations, but the skills are about information.

While I am taking Warlick’s quote a little bit out of context (as his post focuses on new literacy skills), I fully believe that the concept is then same - we need to shift our dialogue to focus on the content, the engagment, the lessons and the informational skills.Now - let’s consider this in the context of a one-to-one laptop implementation, shall we? While Irving has made huge strides forward, the biggest change that we see happening is not in the students, but in teacher instruction. The shift from the ‘old’ way to the new is drastic, with some that catch on quickly and others that are still struggling with how to ‘use’ the laptops. I fully believe that if we promote more systematic dialogue that (and PLEASE, we MUST not forget the power of the technology) focuses on the content, instruction, engagement and literacy skills that need to be happening in our classrooms, we’ll see a more fluid shift in teaching practice. LoTI provides a framework that is right on target with this discussion. Moving on…

I love it when you see someone processing new content/information! We have a few administrators that are attending our LoTI session today, one of whom rephrased what he saw as the value in the LoTI framework. Moersch has developed a Palm based application that allows an administrator to do a quick walk-through with the ability to quantify (more or less) the LoTI level of any given lesson. While the focus of the application is for administrative purposes (walk-through evaluation), this particular principal noted that it would be twice as powerful for teachers to have the evaluation tool on their own so that they can do continuous self evaluation of their own lessons. Yes, yes, yes! This comment followed Chris’ statement that all of their research blatently shows that the building principal controls the LoTI level on campus. In other words, the Principal’s expectations for their teachers are what the campus will produce. This principal ‘got it’ and saw the value in integrating technology within the LoTI framework. Right on target, in my opinion.

THAT is heading towards where the left lane ends.

Links to check out:

LoTI Levels

Dr. Chris Moersch

David Warlick on LoTI (a little)

Podcast by Wesley Fryer w/ Dr. Chris Moersch

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills

Digital Literacy Bookmarks