from Educators' eZine
In 2002, the Polk County School District received the "Enhancing Education through Technology Grant" (EETT) and started the Model Technology Classroom in which an exemplary teacher would integrate technology into his/her teaching strategies and model for other teachers a learning environment based upon the P21 Framework.
Each year the program would recruit about 10 to 15 teachers, who would receive technology equipment for their classroom plus training on how to use the equipment and, most importantly, how to integrate technology use into the learning process. The district also provides infrastructure for the program to succeed. This is the fifth year of the program, and we have made tremendous progress on reaching our goal of a model technology classroom in 80 schools out of 156. The 2003-04 school year results are listed below.
The program's goals are to:
- Increase the technology literacy of students in the district.
- Help teachers provide a 21st century learning environment for students.
- Provide teachers resources and training to integrate technology into their teaching.
- Assess the effectiveness of the program.
To accomplish these goals, School Technology Services took the following steps:
- Purchase of a model technology classroom for teachers.
- Provide technology training for teachers, in summer sessions and other workshops.
- Develop a training program for teachers in technology proficiency.
- Develop Best Practices for use of technology in the classroom.
- Consult with Florida Southern University and University of Central Florida to develop assessment instruments and collected data on the evaluation of the program.
We assessed the program by:
- Surveying teachers.
- Having external evaluators observe classrooms.
- Creating focus group interviews with a small selection of teachers.
A standard Model Technology Classroom includes hardware, software, training and infrastructure – all critical in providing the opportunity for model technology teachers and students to become effective users of technology for teaching and learning. The technology tools consisted of 1 laptop, 1 LCD projector, 3 desktop computers, 1 printer, 1 screen, several headsets, and an AV cart. Administrators and teachers participated in specific technology training and curriculum integration modules that are part of the district technology training certification program before receiving this hardware and software.
In 2003-04 we created Best Practices, and required model technology teachers to implement and follow these Best Practices in the classroom. The Best Practices are used as a guide to help teachers increase technology use in the classroom. They are also featured at teacher trainings and parent meetings to make them aware of their children's technology use. Best practices for model technology classrooms are defined as "a set of strategies that can be used to promote the ongoing use of technology in the classroom and increase student technology literacy skills."
- Ongoing Professional Development
- Teacher Use of Technology
- 21st Century Classroom Practices
- Teacher Mentoring
- Student Use of Technology
- Administrative Support
- Network Manager Support
- Accountability – Student Literacy
- Parent/Community Involvement – Training
Each one of the above Best Practices requires that the model teacher take an action to meet the goal, namely, that all administrators, teachers, and students will be technology literate by 2006. For example, research reveals that ongoing professional development must be there to help teachers utilize technology in the classroom.
2003-04 Project Results
The data of the assessment are presented in detail in another formal report; however, the highlights of these results are:
- Prior to the training, 33% of the teachers believed that they were in the advanced level in integrating technology into the classroom. After the training 67% of the teachers believed that they were in the advanced level.
- External evaluators observed the classroom and prior to the training, the evaluators rated 14% of the teachers at the advanced level; after the training, evaluators rated 36% of the teacher at advanced level.
- Teachers understood better how to model a 21st century learning environment.
- There was an increase of 23% in the use of technology in the classroom.
- Teachers, however, noted that they continued to face obstacles in time management in their efforts to accomplish technology education goals.
The data clearly shows improvement in the ability of teachers to integrate technology in the classroom and that student technology literacy increased. The implications are that the program was successful in meeting its goals. Teachers received resources which they are actively using and the classroom environment has changed. There are many more classrooms that reflect 21st century learning environments, in which students use technology to learn from one another, collaborate with peers and experts in the fields.
School Technology Services hopes that they can continue to replicate this program after the end of the EETT grant so as to involve more teachers and therefore more students. We are trying to address the issues of lack of time and scheduling problems for teachers to attend training through another program called Technology Coaching. Some additional recommendations include:
- Stress ways in Best Practice #8 to maximize the use of technology in all
- Work with the technology leadership team and content specialists to incorporate technology in the curriculum map and other resources that teachers use for instructional planning.
- Continue to seek outside sources of funding, especially to obtain more equipment and bring in resources that are known to improve student literacy and academic achievement.
- Provide teachers with a variety of professional development avenues to increase teacher literacy.
- Increased time to meet with school technology leadership teams as they plan the use of district approved technology-learning resources to increase student achievement.
- Continue to explore ways to make classroom or computer labs more accessible to students before and after school to increase technology literacy skills and student achievement.
- Continue to provide ways for administrators to attend professional development training to make them aware of effective ways technology can be integrated into the curriculum.
- Continue to identify potential pilot projects, using new technologies.
- Provide model technology teams in schools versus one classroom to increase collaboration and support between teachers.
- Continue to support Technology Coaching so model technology teachers will have a support group for collaboration, mentoring and modeling of 21st century skills for teachers.
If districts are interested in more information about Polk County's Model Technology Teacher Program, please visit our website, Model Technology Teachers
Email: Virginia Richard