Looking @ Technology Training & Integration for Teachers

Looking @ Technology Training & Integration for Teachers - Of the barriers which inhibit effective use of technology in the classroom, the biggest is teachers who haven't learned to integrate it as part of their lessons. School Librarians are already adept at technology and integration, so we can provide multimedia technology training for our teachers. #NoSweatLibrary #schoollibrary #technologytrainingTechnology can bring creative enrichment to many educational activities, but it’s disappointing how rarely audio, video, and digital technologies are used to their fullest. Students need and deserve to learn a variety of ways to express themselves so they may be active participants in our global community.

The barriers which inhibit or restrict the effective use of technology in the classroom are from 3 sources: from teachers, from students, and from the technology itself.

BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE USE OF TECHNOLOGY

Many tech-related problems have been solved as electronic hardware became more robust and affordable, and as digital products became standardized or accessible online. Multimedia technology is now available within most classrooms, and online access is widely available through the federal e-rate. Today we can find a tech solution for any educational need, many of them free.

Technology breakdowns are less frequent than in the past. School districts with older hardware or insufficient bandwidth for large-scale online use may still have issues; however, hardware, software, and online barriers are nowadays incidentally frustrating, rather than obstructive.

Many students still lack entry-level tech skills and/or equitable access to technology. The demand for tech-savvy graduates is pushing school districts to find solutions through grants, bonds, and corporate funding, and 1:1 initiatives are narrowing inequity. Keyboarding classes, once prolific, are now scarce, so incidental training during assignments is now the norm for students, and brings us to the biggest stumbling block to effective use of technology in the classroom.

Technology training for teachers has been a staple of professional development for decades, yet there remain huge gaps in tech proficiency among teachers. Even newer, younger teachers who we’d expect to have grown up using a wide variety of tech applications lack the skill and ability to effectively integrate technology into their classrooms. Clearly we still need to provide all teachers with time to pursue training in technology applications, but more importantly, we need to provide teachers with more focused training, enabling them to develop tech integration lessons for their students.

STAFF DEVELOPMENT FOR TECHNOLOGY

The typical manner of tech training for teachers is showing a whole group how to use a tool, expecting that they will effectively integrate it into student learning. While this method is cheap and easy, it isn’t the best way to do it: teachers merely add a shallow use of a tool to what they’re already doing—as in requiring final papers to be typed with a word processing tool yet still requiring a handwritten rough draft. Teachers need to see a different way of doing things—even as simple as using that word processing app from the start, then tracking changes when commenting, proofing, and editing within the tool itself, and doing so completely online.

Decades ago, Alan November said “the goal should be to train teachers not to master specific technologies, but instead to design learning environments in which technology helps children learn.” Yes, teachers don’t just need to learn how to use a tool, but to have an integrated model to take back to the classroom.

Bring together a small group of same-grade-level or same-discipline teachers and help them develop a carefully planned multimedia lesson or unit that incorporates tools with curriculum standards and objectives. Even a teacher with rudimentary tech skills can do this for more meaningful student learning, and creative teachers will supplement and enhance the unit for a truly memorable student experience. These tech-integration trained teachers then become facilitators for others in their schools, and more teachers become familiar with, and adept at, planning units to fully integrate multimedia into classroom experiences.

A PROCESS-BASED APPROACH TO TECH TRAINING

One of the most effective technology training paradigms I’ve found is the online Cult of Pedagogy JumpStart course.

JumpStart is a self-paced online technology course for the thoughtful educator. By guiding you through a series of hands-on projects, this course will give you the confidence and skills you need to make smart choices about the tech you use in your teaching.

What’s unusual about this tech training course is that it doesn’t look at “tools”, but rather at processes, specific ways of using technology that can be applied in a variety of classroom situations. You learn 10 key processes and complete a hands-on project to practice that process with one tool. You’ll can transfer that process to your own classroom, using the same tool or a similar one of your choosing. Here are the 10 processes:JumpStart Your Technology Training for Teachers - School Librarians can help teachers integrate technology into their lessons by providing customized multimedia technology training or encouraging enrollment in Cult of Pedagogy's JumpStart online course. #NoSweatLibrary #schoollibrary #technologytraining #CultofPedagogyJumpStart

  1. Blogging
  2. Online Collaboration
  3. Mind Mapping
  4. Curation
  5. Screencasting
  6. Flipped Learning
  7. Digital Assessment
  8. HyperDocs (playlists)
  9. QR codes
  10. Podcasting

The JumpStart course offers 2 options: Basic, where you take the course on your own, at whatever pace works for you; and Plus, where you get the support and accountability of a community. The JumpStart Plus course is only open for enrollment five times a year, and enrollment for the July 2019 training is open June 23-July 3. (There is also an October 2019 training with enrollment from September 22-29.)

I was in one of the early JumpStartPlus groups, and though I consider myself technologically adept, I learned more than I could have imagined: not only processes and tools, but a completely new vision for how to help students learn technology within a flowing pattern of applied multimedia techniques. I heartily recommend the Cult of Pedagogy JumpStart course for teachers at any tech level, novice to expert.

(I am Cult of Pedagogy’s Pinterest Marketing Specialist,
but I receive no compensation for this
 JumpStart endorsement.)

THE ROLE OF SCHOOL LIBRARIANS IN TECH TRAINING

As a School Librarian we can offer a variety of technology training opportunities to teachers, from new ways to use a common tool to full-length design-based integrated technology units. We need to treat professional development for teachers with the same consideration and planning we give to student lessons. I use my Library Lesson Planner for technology professional development so I stay focused on just what teachers need—nothing more, nothing less.

Here are 3 ways to offer technology PD to teachers:

  • Short faculty meeting presentations
    These are 5-10 minute show-and-tells which demonstrate a new facet of a tool teachers are already using. It’s important to make this use part of standard classroom activity so teachers can immediately put it to use, rather than figure out on their own how to incorporate it.
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  • Topical training before/after school or during common subject planning
    Many teachers are willing to come into the School Library before or after school for 20-30 minute tech sessions. These, too, need to be designed as time-savers or enhancements to already-in-use systems so teachers can take them back to the classroom and apply them right away. Some topics I offered my teachers were webpage training, using our email app for lesson scheduling and time management, student blogging and discussion forums, and creating videos from slide presentations.
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    Another option is to offer a series of training sessions during common subject planning periods. For example, I created weekly presentations about how to integrate Design Thinking and Technology into lesson units. I provided a pocket folder with brads to hold guided worksheets that teachers used during the various sessions and then kept for reference. I included suggested projects for various subjects, and created a narrated version of the presentations so teachers who were absent or future new teachers could view them. I received several teacher requests to further help integrate technology into a lesson!
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  • Extended rotating workshops during beginning-of-school-year staff development
    Teachers become “students” and spend 45-50 minutes each at 2-3 hands-on stations working through a classroom lesson using new technology tools. This model requires the most planning, strong support from administration, and a cadre of trained colleagues to assist the teacher-students. One year I designed a series of WebQuests using library online subscription databases for informational projects teachers assigned during the school year. My Library Lesson Matrix was invaluable to customize the WebQuests for each subject, which were so successful that teachers had me schedule those same WebQuests with their students!

EXPANDING OUR LEADERSHIP ROLE

It’s no longer enough for School Librarians to promote reading and give lessons on research skills. We need to learn, use, and then integrate multimedia technologies into student learning, and teach our teachers how to do it. We are the best person on our campus to do this: we are the only one familiar with all subject curricula and we are already skilled at integrating into classroom activities. Make it a goal this school year to provide some tech training for your teachers!

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Looking @ ELA, the Workshop Model, and Classroom Libraries

Looking @ ELA, the Workshop Model, and Classroom Libraries - The School Library can't just be about reading books. School Librarians need to rigorously contribute to student learning by fully integrating Library Lessons with all subject curricula. Otherwise, we can't lament a lack of appreciation for the library when curriculum changes affect our circulation. #NoSweatLibrary #schoollibrary #ELA #classroomlibraries #readerwriterworkshopLately I’m seeing a lot of librarian posts that run something like this:

The English Language Arts department adopted a reading & writing workshop model with classroom libraries. Students choose books in their classrooms and read for 10-minutes at the start of class, so teachers no longer bring them to the library. Our library circulation has plummeted and I don’t think students have the time and freedom they previously had for free reading.

Friends, this is why our library program MUST be more than just books and reading! If we focus only on promoting reading and checking out books, we will suffer when classroom libraries and reading workshop programs are implemented. Our school library must be a multi-faceted learning space, not just a book repository.

I’m a School Librarian who has gone through this experience, and I can tell you that, because I built strong curricular relationships with ELA teachers, I wasn’t adversely affected when our district adopted such a program. Well, we did follow the “rules” for the first 9-week grading period, but teachers were very unhappy with our reading results, so by the middle of the second 9-weeks we reverted to our already-successful regular recurring ELA library visits with sustained silent reading. Yes, because of our long record of DEAR/SSR, we were able to see the shortcomings of the new model.

PITFALLS OF WORKSHOP MODELS & CLASSROOM LIBRARIES

  • 10-minute reading doesn’t allow story immersion
    Students need 2 or 3 chapters to really get into a story, and that takes a lot longer than 10 minutes. Teachers found that students weren’t continuing to read a book they’d chosen the day before, but would look for a new one. Limiting their browse time didn’t solve the problem (of course not!) and students just grabbed any book off the shelf, read for the allotted time period, then put the book back and grabbed a new one the next day. Students weren’t really “reading” nor finishing books; they were just fulfilling a “requirement.”
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  • 10-minute reading doesn’t foster comprehension
    Try it yourself. Pick up a new book and read for 10 minutes, then mark your place and put it away. The next day, pick up the same book and begin reading where you left off—don’t reread—for 10 minutes. Do the same thing for a third day, and when you put the book down, write a short summary of the story. The fourth day, start a brand new book at the beginning and read for 25-30 minutes, then write a short summary of the new story. Compare the two summaries: you’ll shake your head at the shallow understanding those short reading periods gave you and how much more you got out of the longer reading session. You’ll also want to continue reading that second book!
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  • 10-minute reading doesn’t build reading endurance
    When we reverted back to our regular library visits with DEAR Time, kids would look at the clock after 8 or 9 minutes to see if the “10 minutes” they’d gotten used to was over—and then they’d get restless and disruptive. Even upper grades who had enjoyed extended reading in prior years did this. We cajoled and stuck with it–providing the same long DEAR Time in classrooms in the off weeks–and eventually students settled into reading for 25-30 minutes.

So ended our experiment with daily reading as a “bell-ringer” activity. In all fairness, the workshop model is supposed to provide lengthier reading times, but all too often curriculum writers make the “reading workshop” into a text analysis activity instead of free reading.

DON’T FIGHT CLASSROOM LIBRARIES – SUPPORT THEM

With classroom libraries I had fewer intermittent students coming in during class to get a book, but that wasn’t a huge contributor to circulation. I was actually happy to have teachers building classroom libraries. I rarely purchased more than 2 hardback copies of any book, even if popular, because I’d found they sat on the shelf after the first burst of interest and would be weeded for non-circulation within a couple years. Since classroom libraries were predominantly paperbacks, teachers could get several copies of best sellers and by the time the “newness” wore off, the books were pretty worn out anyway.

Two problems the ELA teachers had were a lack of shelf space for books and a lack of funds to keep purchasing new books. Because they were so supportive of the library program, I decided to help:

  1. The 5-foot high oak bookcases in our school library are a perfect height for middle school. I have 3 shelves of books and use the bottom shelf to display new books or featured themes. Each bookcase came with 4 shelves, so I had over 100 extra solid oak shelves on the bottom shelf of bookcases.
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    I designed a 6” deep, 2-shelf bookcase that would fit under whiteboards in ELA classrooms and had a high school construction class use my excess shelving to build 4 for each ELA teacher. You can imagine their surprise when I gave each teacher 20 feet of additional paperback shelving that didn’t eat into their classroom space!
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  2. I’d been running a school store in the cafeteria during lunch for a couple years. I sold school supplies, all priced from 25¢ to $2, that were fun & flashy, and the students gobbled them up. Income purchased more supplies, but by the end of 2 years I had accumulated some significant profits. After replenishing supplies, I donated $385 of school store profits to the ELA department for purchasing new books for their classroom libraries.
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    If ELA teachers were delighted with the bookshelves, they were over-the-moon about the money! They met at our local brand-name bookstore that very weekend and chose dozens of new books–substantially discounted, thanks to a supportive store manager. They praised students for helping to get those books by supporting the school store, and my business boomed even more during ensuing weeks. At the end of the school year I donated another $160 to ELA teachers.

INTEGRATED THEMATIC LIBRARY “WORKSHOP” LESSONS

In its simplest form, the workshop model has 4 parts: opening, mini-lesson, work time, and debriefing. This coordinates well with the 4 instructional steps of my Library Lesson Planner: direct instruction, modeling & guided practice, independent practice, and sharing & reflecting, so it made sense for me to configure our library visits as Reader Writer Workshops:

Warm-up – I share Learning Targets and allow for the return of books.
Mini-LessonDirect Instruction and Modeling & guided practice to the whole class.
Workshop is Independent practice. Usually we have Reader Workshop where students browse for new books and have DEAR Time free reading. Sometimes the lesson is Writer Workshop where students complete an activity.
Sharing & reflecting – The last several minutes of the period is our by-table book checkout and I can talk to each student about the books they’ve chosen.

From the first Library Orientation visit, 6g ELA teachers liked my adoption of the RWW model, but their big concern was moving students for the half-period each of classroom and library every other week. (If you know anything about 6th graders, you understand!) After studying their new curriculum I could see opportunities to bring certain activities into the library for a more enriching experience covering the entire class period.

6g ELA teachers and I began to work together, customizing Library Lessons with their Literary Text Unit Themes and integrating their classroom learning activities into a full-period Library Lesson visit. These new Library Lessons are quite extensive, often with us co-teaching, and yet still allow plenty of time for book browsing and silent reading. Because we collaborated, 6g English Language Arts is intricately woven into every-other-week library visits, and the content and pacing of curriculum is not just preserved, but enhanced.

I’ve adapted 6th grade Literary Text Units for use by any middle school librarian. Narrative text, Expository text, and Persuasion units are available from No Sweat Library, my TeachersPayTeachers store. A poetry unit and units for 7th grade are under construction.

NoSweat ELA Narrative Text Unit for 6th grade (as Reader/Writer Workshops) NoSweat ELA Expository Text Unit for 6th Grade (as Reader/Writer Workshops) NoSweat ELA Persuasive Unit for 6th Grade (as Reader Writer Workshops)

MAKE EVERY LIBRARY VISIT IRREPLACEABLE

I clarify that my school library program wasn’t negatively impacted by the workshop model and classroom libraries for 3 reasons:

  • We’d already established regularly scheduled library visits with silent reading every other week for all ELA classes.
  • I’d already created short Library Lessons for some visits that supported classroom learning.
  • The strong relationship between School Librarian and English Language Arts teachers prompted collaboration to overcome the deficiencies of the workshop curricular plan.

The School Library can’t just be about reading books. School Librarians need to rigorously contribute to student learning by fully integrating Library Lessons into all subject curricula. Otherwise, we can’t lament a lack of appreciation for the library when curriculum changes affect our circulation.

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Looking @ Coordinating Collection, Curriculum, and Library Lessons

Looking @ Coordinating Collection, Curriculum, and Library Lessons - As school librarians, it's our responsibility to develop a library collection that doesn't rely on generic 'balance,' but one that supports our grade level curricula. More than that, we must also create Library Lessons that use those materials for meaningful classroom activities and worthwhile assessments. #NoSweatLibrary #schoollibrary #librarycollection #librarylessons #socialstudies #ELASchool Librarians develop a school library collection based on the curriculum needs of teachers and students, not a ‘balanced’ collection based on arbitrary numbers of some purported authority. We know that we are the authority for our school library and better able to determine our print and digital needs than anyone else. We must be bold enough to trust our own judgment—to ignore ‘balance’ and support as much of our school’s curriculum as possible.

But it’s not enough to just add materials based on topics of study in the classroom. We must think deeply about how we can integrate resources into classroom experiences so they are actively used by students and teachers…and that means anticipating Library Lessons, especially those that bring authenticity and higher-order thinking to assessment products. Let’s follow the development of one such example.

BEGIN WITH CURRICULUM ALIGNMENT

Early on I begin to apply subject sticker-labels on fiction books to aid student choices. I notice a significant number of historical fiction books covering the same time period our 8th graders study in U.S. History—discovery of the Americas through Reconstruction. Instead of the Historical Fiction label, I put a distinct Historical America sticker on those books, already thinking I can promote them to 8th graders during their library orientation.

Around the same time, I learn that 8g English Language Arts does a novel study each semester using a classic historical fiction novel with a tie-in to Social Studies. It occurs to me that a novel study might be more interesting if students could choose their own individual Historical America book to read, and I store this in my mind as a possible Library Lesson.

DEVELOP THE TOPICAL COLLECTION

Though we have a considerable number of suitable historical books, there aren’t quite enough for the whole grade level. Determined to increase the Historical America collection, I run a report for relevant books owned by other district middle school libraries, but not ours (we’re only a couple years old), and find a good number to purchase right away.

Periodically combing through book reviews for good books of the time period adds titles to my acquisition book list. About this time one of our major book vendor representatives shows me how to do various searches in the online book vendor catalog. I perform one for “Popular” (which is as it sounds, the most popular titles purchased by other librarians) and filter for “Historical Fiction” and “U.S. History” which adds more titles to the book list.

Each year, as I begin my collection development, I search for newly published titles. As our school population increases, so does our special Historical America collection.

SEIZE A LESSON OPPORTUNITY

Eventually a new 8g Social Studies teacher approaches me…he wants students to “hear another voice of history” beyond the textbook by reading an historical fiction book. Because I thought ahead, I could show him our, by now, substantial collection of Historical America titles.

Looking @ Coordinating Collection, Curriculum, and Library Lessons - Looking @ Coordinating Collection, Curriculum, and Library Lessons - Make the school library collection relevant to curriculum with meaningful Library Lessons. Add Historical America subject sticker labels to historical fiction (from Discovery through Reconstruction), then promote a cross-discipline project to English Language Arts & U.S.History Social Studies with unique assessment products! #NoSweatLibrary #schoollibrary #librarycollection #ELA #socialstudiesWe plan the Library Lesson for shortly after the start of the 2nd semester. We’ll co-present the lesson to students, then allow them to move around the library to choose from the Historical America books I’ve arranged on tables. The U.S. History project criteria focus on the historical events of the story and how they align to what students study in class:

  • historical time period and location of the story
  • character’s conditions and lifestyle in historical context
  • political, economic, religious, environmental, or sociocultural issues of the historical event
  • historical accuracy of circumstances that lead to the character’s decisions

We decide students will have multiple product choices:

  • Academic – research paper or slideshow
  • Artistic – mural or foldable flipbook
  • Speaking – talk show interview or debate

REALIZE THE VISION

Returning from winter break, I discover the 8g English Language Arts teachers plan to assign a book report instead of doing the novel study. I see my initial plan coalesce: I approach ELA about the upcoming Social Studies Historical America project, and they agree that students can use the same book for both projects! I assure them we have enough books for the entire grade, with a few additions through Inter-Library Loan.

image of biocube-small sampleAlways alert for unique and meaningful assessments that fit with my lesson ideas, I’d found a Bio-Cube on ReadWriteThink that, with a few modifications for content, will be perfect for this assignment. I show the ELA teachers and they are delighted to use it. On each side of the cube students write “biographical” information about a chosen character from their historical story:

  1. character’s name and personality traits
  2. personal background
  3. time period and location of story
  4. significance in U.S. History
  5. biggest obstacle to overcome and pivotal choices (grading period theme) character makes
  6. important quotation from story

Copied to colorful paper, then cut & pasted together, finished cubes are suspended from the ceiling in the ELA classrooms. They are a real conversation starter for classroom visitors. Students also write a one-page summary of bio-cube information that contains a reflection segment.

THINK AHEAD

We’ve done this singly and as a cross-discipline project a few times over the years…all because I thought of a curricular Library Lesson and built a collection to implement it. I use the same process to build other mini-collections, such as earth and environmental books for science, print/audio book kits for ELL, and careers.

As school librarians, it’s our responsibility to develop a library collection that doesn’t rely on generic ‘balance,’ but one that supports our grade level curricula. More than that, we must also create Library Lessons that use those materials for meaningful classroom activities and worthwhile assessments.

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