Monday, January 20, 2014

Teacher Leadership Challenge | January 20, 2014

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 5.01.03 PM
This multipart series is intended to help teachers grow their leadership practice and ignite conversations about education online, through blogging, and in person.
The goal of a teacher leader is to improve the learning of all students through their efforts, collaboration, and influence. The 2014 Teacher Leadership Challenge is a weekly installment activity that poses a prompt on an educational topic or issue. Your challenge is to respond to the prompt in 500 words or less via a post you publish to your blog. The aim is to get more teachers thinking globally about their classroom practice and their own connection to the wider education community. You can subscribe to this blog to get the weekly challenge sent automatically by email.
You can share your post to Twitter using #TLC2014 and spark conversation with educators. In addition to posting on your own blog, you can elect to include your post in the weekly collection showcase blog. To do this, simply email your completed response post to the showcase, at Make sure that you include the title of your post with the week of the prompt for proper tagging (e.g., "My Post Title | September 6, 2013") in the subject line (without "re:") of your email, and the full post laid out in paragraphs in the body of the email. Posts are automatically published by sending the email. You can embed images and URLs into the body of your email, and the post will publish while maintaining your formatting and layout. Check out others' responses in the response collection or on Google+ each week, leave them your comments, and get the conversation rolling ahead for teacher leadership.

This Week's Challenge:

Characterize the Effective Use of Technology in the Classroom

What makes for great instruction that has educational technology, or "edtech," involved? Are there features of educational technology use that coincide with great instruction? How are the two different from each other? What can we learn from instructional trends of the past to inform what decisions we make today? Are approaches like authentic assessment, project-based learning, and hands-on inquiry possible without the use of technology? Are the features of great technology use in education the same features that make for a great 'low-tech' lesson or instructional strategy? How does this compare from grade level to grade level, subject area to subject area, or student to student?
IMG_0240Consider this photo from a 2nd grade classroom. Without knowing the lesson at all, would you label this effective use of edtech? What makes you respond that way? What do you see going on in the picture? What do you infer is the classroom lesson, the learning, the teaching? What role is the technology playing and how could it be helping students? Are all the students doing the same thing? 
Now, let's add some context to this picture to see if it changes your estimation: 
The students in this classroom have four ipads to share between 24 students. They are practicing their vocabulary spelling words together, which were given to them in a list on their word wall. The student group selected one of the vocabulary words and are doing the digital equivalent of playing Pictionary with their classmates, except instead of acting out the word, students are making a collage on their iPads using images found in the room. Then they'll project their collage on the front board using AirPlay Mirroring and other students will have to write the word they think the collage represents, spelling it correctly.
How did your impression of this classroom's use of educational technology change once you had the context on top of the image? 
If you walked into a classroom that had effective use of instructional technology in the education of students, what would you see? What would that classroom look like? What would students be doing? What would the teacher be doing? How would the technology be used?

Image Credit: Gary G. Abud, Jr.