Framework for planning

One of my goals for next year is to really move forward in the area of changing our philosophy from one of “how can I add technology to this lesson,” to one in which the technology was planned for as the lesson idea was hatched. As it is now, on evaluations or yearly reviews, a staple recommendation is to try to integrate technology into the lesson or into the curriculum as a whole. I have noticed a semantic shift lately in the blogosphere, away from the word “integrate” and towards something altogether more holistic, like “embed” or “underlie.” Until this shift takes place within the mind of the subject area teacher and building administrator, I truly believe I will be working on a Sisyphean problem.

Planning for this to happen will involve a shift in philosophy for me, as well. My primary focus will continue to shift from plugging holes and putting out fires, to one where I am more concerned with meeting with teachers and spreading ideas. Thus, the processes of planning and steering become priorities above all else in this new model. David Jakes via the Techlearning blog shared his framework for planning, which I thought was brilliant and clear. Here it is in it’s entirety:

First, the technology use should support a fundamental literacy that the school or organization believes in.

Second, the use of that technology must extend the
lesson, or learning, to a place that could not be achieved unless the
technology had been included. In other words, there must be a
value-added component to the inclusion of the technology.

And finally, the use of technology must be framed
within a pedagogically sound instructional approach-without that, the
first two are meaningless.

So, after reading this, I came up with a quick to-do list

  1. First things first, what are the literacies that we believe in in my corner of the globe? I don’t know that I have ever sat down and tried to articulate what types of literacies are important to our students. Where do I start with that?
  2. If I analyzed every project I worked on this year, what would the ratio of projects that had technology added for the sake of doing it v. projects that were authentic, where the technology took the learning to a place that could not have been reached without it? This is something to look into.
  3. What were student reactions to newer versions of projects? Relying on actual data from students should be an integral part of every project, just as important as any other facet.
  4. How were the teachers and myself bringing this to the students? In just a cursory glance backward, I can see several instances where we pushed an pulled too much on the students without giving them requisite freedom to explore. The approach has to be wide-open next year, where we approach each project with the idea that the learning is open-ended.

Jakes goes further into how he develops these ideas by listing his essential four literacies:

  • Be able to connect.
  • Be able to create.
  • Be able to communicate.
  • Be able to collaborate.

I earmarked these for several different topics that I plan to cover this summer, most notably any contact time I have with building administrators in the form of workshops or meetings. To me, these four are the quintessential starting blocks for planning with any teacher; all other curriculum can easily fit within these guidelines.

Image credit:
Vidiot, “Sisyphus.” Online Image. http://www.flickr.com. March 25, 2005. June 3, 2007 .

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