This post was originally published as an entry in the VTCITE blog
Differentiation - Key to Tech IntegrationTime… Time… and more Time…..
I personally get frustrated at plans that treat everyone like they all have the same amount of time. I know that each of us has 24 hours in a day…. but we all have different ways of working with the things that pull at us each day. Some of us are first year teachers; some of us seasoned teachers; some of us are reflective; some of us need to perfect every detail; some of us are experimental, etc. If we are going to advocate or differentiated learning as a best practice for kids, let’s also adopt it for adults. Tech integration does not look the same for everyone. We all come in with different prior knowledge; each of us might gravitate towards a different process or integration; and we will definitely produce different products (integration in literacy will look much different than integration in Phys Ed). Let’s honor those differences as we design our technology integration plans.
For some tech integration is the perfect vehicle to promote team teaching; for others it’s the perfect way to stretch oneself (individually). Sometimes the schedule becomes the single biggest factor in what can and cannot happen. Sometimes what is needed is the breaking down of paradigms. I recently talked to several teachers about their technology needs for next year. When I first posed the question about what would best help them move forward with tech integration next year (the original thoughts were ‘faster computers’ – or ‘more computers’) but as soon as I encouraged them not to limit their answers to hardware and also think about things like “furniture” or “where the network wire drops”, it was like a light bulb went off. I had given them permission to think about technology in a way that focused on improving the learning space - not squeezing in some comput(ing/ers) .
The concept of a list of skills (i.e. GE’s) is helpful, but it needs someone who can understand the “big picture” and help each team member (teachers from different disciplines) play their “position’. (Pardon the sports metaphor…. but sometimes it takes a coach to realize that we have too many people playing outfield, and nobody’s covering third base) … okay so maybe it’s not a perfect metaphor. But I think that as tech integration specialist, we can provide a unique perspective of the playing field and help everyone understand their position, the potential that can be developed by playing their position, and help each individual develop the skills they need to play that position effectively, efficiently, and creatively. With the right approach we can create a winning team, without taking each player through the same path (working through a checklist of skills at the same pace)
I learned so much last year when implementing my Titles 2D grant (Tech Savvy Learning Community). I had a vision about breaking up the individuals in groups where each of them would work in teams of 5 to create an interdisciplinary thematic based project that integrated technology. Well schedules, learning styles, teaching styles, collaboration styles, content areas, and other demands of teaching all came into play and I was pleased that I had enough insight and flexibility to adapt to all of these and support each group to success by straying from the original plan.
The Wellness team stayed together as a group, but ended up with a very linear adaptation to ‘team’ work to accommodate or barriers posed by scheduling.The Creative Expression team ended up frayed into 3 projects (one team of 4 with two very strong collaborators; one team of two; and one individual who developed an incredible plan/proposal for team members that he hoped to attract).
The Global Economy team each ended up venturing in their own direction with two very strong individual projects and one emerging project and one individual who ended up becoming a strong support to many individuals from all 3 teams.