Technology to Enhance Teaching & Learning

Technology to Enhance Teaching & Learning

“The technology itself is not transformative.
It’s the school, the pedagogy, that is transformative.”

Tanya Byron

This summer, with the support of the Brookline Education Foundation, a team of Brookline educators, including ten of us from Lawrence School, participated in the “Building Learning Communities” conference sponsored by November Learning. This annual conference held in Boston attracts educators from all over the world.   The three days were jam-packed with keynote speeches and workshop sessions that were at once inspiring and head-spinning.

Alan November, a leading thinker in the area of technology in schools and the author of such books as “Empowering Students with Technology” challenges us to utilize technology in a way that transforms schools and learning.   He poses six questions he calls the “Transformational Six.”   Two of these questions are: “Did the assignment develop new lines of inquiry?  and “Are there opportunities for students to make their thinking visible?”  To read more, go to:http://novemberlearning.com/educational-resources-for-educators/teaching-and-learning-articles/clearing-confusion-technology-rich-innovative-poor-six-questions/

This year, with the support of last spring’s override, we are fortunate to have an infusion of new technology in the school.  We have substantially increased our fleet of carts of devices that provide students access to technology with new carts of Chromebooks joining our carts of MacBook Airs and i-Pads.   Every middle school classroom (and our new fourth grade wing) has been outfitted with state-of-the-art smart whiteboard projectors.

However, as the quote from British psychologist Tanya Byron reminds us, it is not the technology that transforms learning – it is how the technology is used in the context of teaching and the curriculum that matters.

Our School Improvement Plan includes a new goal to identify and implement strategies for expanding the use of technology as a tool to enhance teaching and learning.   Last year, our School Council began discussions about a vision for technology at Lawrence.  We want to make thoughtful, informed choices and not just jump on the latest cool app or glitzy project.  This year, the Council will finish developing the vision. For example, we want students to learn to research effectively by utilizing tools for finding information.  We want students to be able use different media to create and give a good presentation (and make their thinking visible).  And we want students to learn to be good digital citizens.   This summer, I heard the Head of School of the International School of Amsterdam describe how her school identified six verbs to capture the spirit behind the International Baccalaureate standards for technology: “Collaborate, communicate, investigate, create, organize, and be responsible.” These simple verbs make a good starting point.

In addition, our faculty will be working in action research groups to foster exploration, innovation and implementation of new and expanded use of technology.  We will start the year becoming more familiar with our new tools, including the smart whiteboard projectors, the Schoology Learning Management System (LMS) being used in middle school, Google docs, and more.  From there we will jump off to explore the best way to use these tools to enrich and extend learning.

Watch this space for updates on this work. More importantly, take note of what your child is learning.

Rick Rogers
rick_rogers@brookline.k12.ma.us

 

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