How do I want to improve teaching and learning in my classroom? How can collaborating with others support my teaching and learning goals?
Our 7th and 8th grade students started using a blended learning reading program this year; Read 180. The 8th grade students participated in the Lexia computer reading program, which was very individualized and used computers almost completely with the exception of providing worksheets specific to reading needs determined by the Lexia computer placement test. I am the site test coordinator, and in this case I have given all of the reading tests across grade levels. The 7th and 8th grade students took the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test, which divides score results into components of reading skills. They have recently taken a placement test for the Read 180 program. The results from this information can be added to my research as I review a variety of assessments for common themes.
The collaborative piece to this will be when I go into the classroom to observe how the program’s blended learning stations are working in our school’s specific time and place. I will interview 8th grade students to find out what they think helped, or did not help, them when they used the Lexia program last year and how that program has prepared them for using the one they are in now. I will interview the teacher about apparent motivation and engagement in the reading processes. Then I will share my findings, and ask for his observations so that we can collaborate to improve services where needed.
In my situation, I believe we will learn from each other. The teacher, Jeff, participated in a Read 180 training at the same time I did last spring. We got an overview of the program. Then he received more training this fall. I like the idea from Joyce and Showers (2002) that we could “walk through” a planning activity together. It is early in the year, so we can think about “big overarching goals” for our students (his students as far as being the teacher of record), and consider what we want to accomplish by the winter break, and the second MAP benchmark assessment occurs. If students are not able to keep the recommended pace of the curriculum, I believe these questions are very pertinent: “What instructional strategies are most appropriate for the various objectives you have set for the first [semester]? Are they consistent with your year-end goals?” (Joyce & Shower, p. 92).
I found an article by Sugar and Slagter van Tryon (2014) about the potential benefits of having a virtual technology coach who is available in seven ways for supporting technology integration. The coach collaborates with the teacher and switches roles to mentor the teacher in using new technologies to teach any subject area. A discussion forum would be provided where current technology integration events and topics could be talked about with the coach (and visitors) online. A continuous discussion with other teachers about technology integration into lessons would be helpful; like being able to share and ask questions using the SmartBoard in kindergarten (Sugar, Slagter van Tryton, 2014). The learning resource section is a part of supporting new learning in the virtual coach. I am thinking about learning opportunities here coming directly from the coach in a Google Hangout session, or watching prerecorded lessons like from Screencast-o-matich. The news resource sounds like a great way to keep up with current events. This would look like a wiki where teachers could find links to technology articles or resources, a calendar of events for upcoming webinars, and it can grow to include a wide range of subjects and grade levels where information can be sent to the teacher’s email box.
Another piece was the profile resource. Teachers can have profiles where they update their knowledge and skill level in order to be a resource to each other. If a teacher is willing to share their expertise on Excel, for example, they could list themselves as a resource. I could see this really helping in our district where the teachers in a specific field, such as language arts, could help each other at different schools. A place for sharing resource is helpful. A technology coach could set up a place where teachers could go obtain lesson plans from other teachers. In our district, this would be helpful to teachers who participate in the elementary level dual language program. The coach would be the mediator by setting up a virtual environment for sharing, and help teachers find each other for collaborating.
Something I find that I spend too much time at is troubleshooting technology issues. It would be nice to have a site where a coach serves as a technical resource at the point of my teaching, so that if I am applying technology during a lesson and run into questions, I could post these and receive feedback in a short amount of time. So the article is promoting the idea of having a shared technology coach that is at times available live and at other times, virtually. I think this could really work well. I could start my own wiki to share and get things started. My daughter did this as a place for her students to go, and the resource teacher has already used her wiki (or wordpress site) to find out what the lessons are. I need to get her link 🙂
Joyce, B. & Showers, B. (2002). Student achievement through staff development. Alexandra, VA: Longman, Inc. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Sugar, W. & Slagter van Tryon, P. (2014). Development of a virtual technology coach to support technology integration for K-12 educators. TechTrends 58(3).